Wednesday, November 30, 2011

At least I did something...

I still did not get much done today, but I did do a few little things.  I bagged up a lot of VHS and DVD movies that we are going to take to a used book store.  This is at least progress because they were previously just sitting in my living room floor.  I also threw some VHS tapes away that were not worth taking to the used book store or even Goodwill. 

I anticipate making better progress tomorrow, but with Kyler teething and the whole family suffering from seasonal allergies it is hard to say what will happen.  I thought about making goals for the day and posting them tonight, but then I will feel even worse tomorrow when none of those thigns got done.  Instead it will be a pleasant surprise if anything is accomplished tomorrow.

Now, I have a question for you.  Are there any organizing books or methods that you have found to be useful?  I have tried to read some lately, but I have been disappointed.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Another flop

Nothing done today.  Worked all done.  Now I am going to have some hot chocolate and then going to bed early. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

No progress today

Today I worked hard all day to get nothing done towards organizing.  I got a lot of necessary stuff done, but nothing extra.  After folding and putting away 2 loads of laundry, running an errand, buying a few Christmas gifts online, organizing my coupons, cooking, helping Cade make a solar system for school, and dealing with a very unpleasant teething toddler there was no time or energy left to organize.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Today we got more VHS movies recorded onto DVD, so we are almost done with that.  We also went through our DVD collection.  James and I took out all of the ones that we don't ever watch and don't think we will want to watch.  We also got rid of some that we know we can watch online for free or borrow from someone else.  Some DVDs we are getting rid of are the first season of Doogie Howser, the first season of MacGyver, and the first 2 seasons of Friends.  Some that we have chosen not to part with include: Dirty Dancing, You've Got Mail, the first season of The Cosby Show, 27 Dresses, the first 6 Harry Potter movies, Band of Brothers, and many more.  We have now been able to open up room for the increasing number of kids DVDs that are coming into our home.  We even kept the ridiculous number of Elmo, Clifford, and Bob the Builder DVDs. 

I did not get nearly as much done today as I had hoped to, but we had some good family time today also.  We went to church, had lunch with my mom and brother, and had movie night with the boys (the new Winnie the Pooh movie- it was pretty good).  All in all it was a good day.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Cookbooks, Magazines, and VHS Movies

Today I worked on a hodge podge of things that I never know what to do with.  To begin with, I went through a few cookbooks that I never reference.  One of them didn't have any recipes that I will ever use, so it is leaving.  The other two had no more than 5 recipes each that I wanted, so I am typing the recipes into Word documents and getting rid of those cookbooks, too.  I have more cookbooks to deal with still, but this opened up a little space in my stuffed kitchen cabinets. 

Next I worked on a big stack of magazines.  Recipes that I want I find online and save in Word documents.  If there are any craft or organization articles that I want to keep I tear them out and file them in one of 2 expandable files I keep for this purpose.  I only keep the most recent issue of each magazine I subscribe to.  The only exception is the I keep all of my copies of Disney Family Fun because they usually have a lot of stuff I want to keep and reference.  I have not yet figured out how or where I am going to keep my back issues.  Any suggestions?

Finally, we worked through some boxes of movies we have on VHS.  The ones we like or want to keep we are recording onto DVDs and then getting rid of the VHS tapes.  Today James got 5 movies from VHS onto 2 DVDs.  This saves space and is more practical because the VCR part of our DVD/VCR combo doesn't work.  The only reason we are even concerned about keeping these movies is that almost all of them are James's James Bond collection.

Does anyone else out there have outdated technology (VHS tapes, cassettes, etc.)?  How are you dealing with this stuff?  Speaking of outdated technology, I had to laugh the other day when my husband found a stack of at least twelve floppy discs when he was cleaning out our old laptop bag.

Friday, November 25, 2011

149 Days to Go

There are now 149 days until my goal and progress is being made slowly but surely.  Today I spent most of the day recovering from my Thanksgiving exhaustion (and sleeping for 2 nights on the twin size bottom bunk of my son's bed with my husband), but a few things were accomplished.  James and I sorted through several c.d.s and a drawer full of computer software discs.  We are going to take most of our c.d.s and a lot of our DVDs also to a used books and music store to get then out of our house.  Any c.d. that we have the music from loaded onto the computer we are going to get rid of.  I will be careful to back up everything so I don't lose all of my music if something happens to our computer.  We will also keep our kids' c.d.s.  When we get a c.d. of children's music we make a copy of the c.d. and put that in Cade's c.d. wallet.  We keep the original.  Now when he scratches or breaks a c.d. we can just make a new copy from our original.  We were also able to throw away installation discs for software that we don't use anymore.  We will work on this more tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


First of all, I will neither be organizing or posting tomorrow.  I am taking the day to spend with my family.  My goal is to maintain things as much as possible.

Today was not really an organizing day.  It was a Thanksgiving preparation day.  I baked 3 different desserts and spent time with my in-laws who came into town.  I also made a Thankful Tree with my boys.  I have been working on this for about a week, but we finished it today. 
 Here is a close up of part of it:
I made stencils of their handprints on a cereal box and then traced them on construction paper and cut them out.  On each handprint "leaf" we write something we are thankful for.  Some of the things we are thankful for include: that Jesus died for us, Pup Pup (Cade's stuffed dog), our new baby, chocolate, Cherry Coke, and a lot of family members.  I had so much fun talking with my children about thankfulness and listening to what they say they are thankful for.  I really want my house to be clean and organized, and there were organizing projects that I could have worked on today, but no matter how organized my home is there is not a substitute for taking the time to do special things with my children and to teach them. 

If you have children, how are you teaching them to be thankful?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Before and After pictures

Today was a rough day.  I woke with a migraine to a whining child standing next to my bed.  Both of my kids were whiny all day.  I worked hard getting stuff done all day, yelling at my children sporadically.  I don't have a lot to say today, so I will just show you some of what we have accomplished this week.  James helped a lot.  We are by no means done, but you can at least see our progress.

Bedroom before

Bedroom after
Bedroom before
Bedroom after
Bedroom before
Bedroom after (James moved some furniture)
Laundry room before 
Laundry room after
 Sofa table before
Sofa table after
 Dining room before
Dining room after
 Computer desk before
Computer desk after
 Side table before
Side table after
Bedroom before
 Bedroom after
Tomorrow my in-laws arrive, so we had good motivation for getting this stuff done.  I hope you are making time to get stuff done, too.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Not much accomplished today

I have not accomplished much so far today.  I worked all day and then just wanted to sit and rest after the kids were in bed.  We packed some more Goodwill stuff up and we are going to work on some more stuff in our room in a few minutes, but I did nothing of note today.  Soon I should have before and after photos from our bedroom.  It is looking a lot better already.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Getting rid of even more stuff

Today I had to deal with my clothes.  I have been in the process of switching from summer clothes to fall/winter clothes and of switching from regular to maternity clothes.  It has looked like my closet threw up all over my bedroom for weeks.  Every time I tried to work on it one of the kids got hurt or needed me desperately.  It is finally done now.  My clothes that I am not actively wearing are sorted by season and by when I anticiapte being able to wear them again after this baby is born and put away under the bed or on a closet shelf.  On a side note, we bought some Space Bags several years ago to store things under the bed.  We HATE them.  At this point we are still using them because they are what we have, but we hope to replace them with something else soon.  I also got rid of some clothes that fall into the "even if I could wear this again, I shouldn't" category.  As I sorted through these clothes I was appalled to see the percentage of my clothes that I have had since high school.  These are mostly t-shirts from the softball team and yearbook staff.  I really should get rid of these.

I also went through some boxes in my closet where I had just been storing various things.  I am embarrassed by some of the things that I have been holding onto for years.  The stuff I got rid of includes:
 -ticket stubs from a Sting/Annie Lennox concert from 2004, Bob Dylan concert from 1999, and Tom Petty and the Hearbreakers conert from 2005
 -ticket stubs from a flight to Montevideo, Uruguay in 2005 (this was my first flight and so far my first and only missions trip)
 -a pocket "Guia de Montevideo" from the 7 weeks my husband and I spent there (because apparently I might need to know where to catch a bus in a South American city I haven't been in for over 6 years)
 -my high school graduation program from 2001
 -a ton of cards from my baby shower in 2007, birthday cards, Valentine's Day cards, Easter cards, and so on
 -various drawings from kids I used to babysit
 -extra Christmas cards that I ordered for Christmas 2007
 -17 extra birth announcements from when my 4 year old was born

Some of the few things I kept are a photo of Tom Selleck's star on the Walk of Fame and an acrostic poem that a 7 year old wrote for me 7 years ago.  The poem made me smile, so I will share it with you (spelling is his):

Me and her ar freinds
Exelint at art
In Bellivebel
Exelint taste in musice

I don't think he knows that laughable means "of a kind to provoke laughter or sometimes derision : amusingly ridiculous " (Merriam-Webster).  That is what I am choosing to tell myself anyway.

What do you have a hard time getting rid of?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Getting stuff out!

Today I ran a bunch of errands in preparation for Thanksgiving.  Some of the errands included dropping off a huge bag and a large diaper box full of stuff at Goodwill and taking a bag of toys to a donation drop off for Toys for Tots.  I am so happy that this stuff is getting out of my house.  By the time I got home my husband had a laundry basket full of clothes that also need to go to Goodwill, so those will be leaving the house in the next couple of days also.  He cleared two drawers from his dresser so now we will have a place to put some baby clothes when the time comes.  Yay!  There is still a lot more to get rid of, but progress is being made.

Friday, November 18, 2011

My children "help" me

I actually got a lot done today even though my children "helped" a lot.  One project that I knew needed to be done but had planned to put off for a while was going through my son's puzzles and decks of cards (various flash cards, Go Fish, Crazy Eights, etc.).  That plan changed today when I let my 4 year old stay downstairs to play while I showered this morning.  When I came back down he had the pieces from nine different puzzles and five decks of cards mixed up in one giant pile.  Here is a picture of what it looked like:

This was taken about halfway through the clean up process.  By this time most of the puzzle pieces were sorted out.  I decided that since they were already being sorted, we might as well tackle this project now.  We counted the pieces from each puzzle (great counting practice for my four year old) and labeled the back of the puzzle pieces with letters.  For example, each piece from the Noah's Ark puzzle has an "A" on the back and each piece from the Cars puzzle has a "C."  Now if he does this again I can let him sort the pieces by himself by the letter on the back.

The backing of the puzzle or the box is also labeled.  Next we sorted the cards into stacks.

Kyler "helped."

Cade was very helpful in this part.  It took over an hour for the entire project, but it finally got done.

Some other things that were accomplished today include:
  -I sorted pictures saved on the computer into files based on content so I can find what I am looking for.
  -I found my handheld computer (kind of like a palm pilot) that I misplaced many months ago.  I consolidated the three calendars that I have been working from all onto one electronic calendar.
  -I worked on cleaning off the sofa table and the dining room table, though neither of these are done yet.
  -My wonderful husband spent quite a bit of time sorting still more receipts.

Somehow I managed to do all of this while still unloading the dishwasher, doing laundry, making dinner, reading to my kids, soothing an unpleasant teething toddler, and going to the doctor's office.  The kids also helped unload the dishwasher and fold laundry.  Yay!  I rejoice in small victories.

What do your kids help with around the house?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

More receipts and a question for you

I spent another hour organizing receipts tonight.  Nothing exciting to report on that front.  I am still not anywhere near done.

Now I have a question for you.

What did you do with all of the text books and notes after you finished college?  Did you sell some or all of your texts?  Did you pitch the notes?

I have three large boxes of notes from college classes.  Most of them I hate to just throw away because my husband and I hope to be missionaries, and we might like to have the information from the Bible and Missions classes.  Plus I spent thousands of dollars for this information.  I am trying to get them typed and saved so I can get rid of the hard copies, but this will take forever.  We also have several shelves of books from classes that I am not sure if we should keep or not.  What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Receipts, Receipts, Receipts

After a very busy day of running errands, baking, and church the children were finally in bed.  Now comes the moment of truth.  I have not done any organizing today.  I want to sit on the couch and watch t.v., but I don't.  I spent the last hour sorting receipts by month.  Here is a picture of our box where we stick receipts and paperwork that need to be filed or dealt with:
After an hour I have not even put a tiny dent in this mess.  I am sorting the receipts by month so we can check them against our bank account, make sure things are in order, and get rid of any that were not for large purchases.  I am also planning to go through my grocery receipts to see how much money I have saved with coupons this year.  I intended to keep track of this throughout the year, but that did not happen, and now it is already November.  Here is the after picture of my progress:

I know.  You really can't see much difference.  I put each month's receipts in an envelope, and I am ashamed to say that there are 14 envelopes there.  This project will clearly take many more hours of work, but even these tedious tasks must be accomplished at some point. 

I know this has not been an interesting post, but the moral of this post is that if you take care of the tedious stuff as it comes (like receipts) you won't ever have to do this.

Please comment and tell me:
How do you deal with the receipts that come into your house?  Do you keep them?  If so, for how long?
I struggle with these questions about a lot of paperwork in our house.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The beginning...

Over the past week I have been looking around my home.  I have come to the conclusion that things are not working.  I am usually a very organized person, but this place is a disaster.  More on that in a minute. 

I am a happily married mother of 2 (and a half).  My third baby is due on May 5th.  The reason I am calling this blog 158 Days to Simplify is that I NEED for my life and home to be much more simple by the time this baby gets here.  158 days from today will be 2 weeks before the due date, so I feel this is a safe goal. 

My family and I live in a 2 bedroom townhome in Nashville, Tennessee.  We have a lot of stuff and are quickly running out of room to put things.  Now we are going to have a new person and a new person's things, too.  These are some of my conclusions:
1.  A LOT of this stuff has to leave my house and never come back
2.  We don't NEED nearly as much stuff as we think we do
3.  It is going to take a lot of work to get where I want to be

Now, back to the disaster.  I have taken before pictures of every part of my house.  Looking at the pictures makes it seem a lot worse.  If these were pictures of someone else's house I would probably say, "How can they live like that?"  And yet we are living like this.  So... I am getting things in order starting today. 

These are my goals:
1.  Accomplish something every day towards a simpler and more organized life
2.  Do more each day than my children undo
3.  Post each day what has been accomplished (probably with some interesting stories of how things got done with 2 crazy boys running around)
4.  Post before and after pictures when it is appropriate

These are my challenges:
1.  With this pregnancy I am exhausted and having a lot of headaches
2.  I tend to get bogged down in the details (so I am likely to spend a lot of time making a plan for what I want to do and very little time actually accomplishing said task)
3.  I am extremely cheap, so I am not going to spend much money on organizational supplies

I have even accomplished a few things already.  I have recycled (when my 4 year old son wasn't looking) a ridiculous quantity of drawings, cards, and Sunday School papers.  I got rid of 3 diaper boxes full of toys, toiletries, and school supplies that I had been saving for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.  We had enough to pack 10 shoeboxes with gifts to be sent to children all over the world who would not have Christmas gifts otherwise.  I have tamed my mountain of coupons that was getting out of control.

Please comment on my posts.  Please feel free to make suggestions and offer advice for organization and simplicity.  I need all the help I can get.  This is one of my before pictures.  This is my sofa table that was supposed to help keep things more organized in our living room/entry way.  Disclaimer:  My house does not always look this bad.  I have just made it through my first trimester, and very little has been done for the last 2 months beyond the bare minimum.  Don't judge me.