Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Done

Fish Tank Cleaned. Not exactly part of the decrapping project, but it needed doing and now Mavis and Ben, the tetras, are super frisky. All two of them.

Meds Organized. I sorted the kids' medicines and things like instant ice packs, slings, all that good stuff. It's now in one of these things, which will be a lot neater than the one box it was all tossed into before. My middle one has asthma and so we always have boxes and boxes of albuterol and his other meds plus loads of Benedryl in different forms and now it's all tidy. Exciting enough, though, since it's taken me the better part of 6 years to organize it all.

Nursery Decluttered. I put away all her 2T clothes that had been laying around since I switched her into 3T a few months ago. I had it all in neat piles and then someone decided it was great fun to chuck clothes around the room and it pretty well deteriorated from there. Anyway, when I started there wasn't a whole lot of carpet showing. And now there is.

On deck next: Children's school artwork needs sorting and storing. Perhaps tomorrow when they are in school, since they cannot be here to witness me recycling any of their work - that surely would not go well.

I sent a trunk full o' junk home with my mom today for her to drop off at NAM. If I can't use it, maybe someone else can. It's starting to look pretty good in here!

On another note, I signed us all up at the Y, so that should be fun. I hope it's something we actually use. Goodness knows, we need to use it!

Off to burn and label 150 CDs for Mister Lawyers seminar speech this week.....

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I hesitate to post this....

WARNING:
IF YOU HAVE EVEN A TOUCH OF

OCD/CLUTTERPHOBIA, YOU SHOULD PROBABLY
NOT READ THIS POST!



Here's the (somewhat horrifying) before and after shots of the much-ignored upstairs linen closet:

BEFORE (Eeeeek!!!):


AFTER (Ahhhh!):


A shot of the stuff going out to charity. And, yes, it is fun to chuck things off the catwalk.


Oh, that wire is from my floor steamer....I also have freshly steamed floors. I don't normally leave wires around for little people to trip/pull/chew on. I have one of these little gadgets and it's been worth every cent so far. I highly recommend it.

2009 Decrapping Project

We've lived here for ten years come August. And in that ten years, we've accumulated a lot. I'm attempting to decrap the house - purge the junk and useless stuff we don't need and probably never will need. I should be systematically going room by room, but it's more of a random process so far.

When Mr. Lawyer and I talk about "my stuff" and "his stuff," "his stuff" is literally his personal stuff. His clothes, his sports collectibles, his tools, his actual stuff.

"My stuff" is everything else in the house. Everything for the house, family photo albums, holiday stuff. Everything on the walls, everything in the kitchen, everything decorative, all of it. Oh, and all three kids' stuff - that's my stuff. Yep - all "my" stuff. The only stuff that he would admit joint ownership to are the electronics and the vehicles. Oh, and the house itself, I suppose. He's not keen on it, so maybe not even that.

So when we are decluttering our stuff he's not very useful, the excuse is that in comparison, he has so little stuff compared to mine and why don't I get rid of mine?

To his credit, he got rid of boxes and boxes of papers and...stuff....from the downstairs office several months ago. It was very times consuming, and he attacked it like a champ - it was awesome.

However, he has a full closet full of his college attire that he will never fit back into. He thinks the boys will wear it one day...hell, at the rate they are growing, they probably will. But it's a LOT of clothes. And some if it, not so attractive..... Skinny ties anyone? I'm not sure it's worth taking up an entire closet for, but maybe I'll be proven wrong.

Oh, lord - and his books, CDs and DVDs...I'm talking thousands of each. Stuff far too nice to throw out or give away, but it does take up a massive amount of room, you know? I'm not sure there really is a remedy, though some of the books need to go. Do we really need that vintage C+ programming guide? And by vintage, I mean of course, completely obsolete.

I admittedly have a ton of holiday junk. I've been trying to prune as we go through the year, but then I hit the after holiday sale and we're back to square one. And honestly, I think now is the time to enjoy holiday crap - when the kids are young. I can always chuck it when they are older, right? I do make a point of getting rid of the really junky stuff, though. Hooray for Freecycle.com! So part of the decrapping project will attempt to reorganize the stuff, so it will all fit back int he rear of the Master closet, instead of infringing on the rest of the room.

On the project list (I'm documenting this as much for me as anything else):

~The Linen Closet - reorganize and purge...TODAY!
~The Nursery Closet - reorganize and purge. This is more work than you'd think since the disarray has spilled out onto the the floor and threatens to swallow the baby as she sleeps.
~The Master Closet - reorganize and purge. Probably 2 full days worth of effort needed here...it's a BIG closet.
~The large box of unread magazines that I haven't gotten to yet.
~The other large box of unread magazines that I haven't gotten to yet....maybe donate to the hospital?
~The coupon box - organize.
~The kids' art supplies - reorganize into super cute bins I bought.
~Boxes and bozes and boxes of legal books (anyone need a full set of reporters or Texas Jurisprudence? No?) - this alone will free up about 18 file boxes worth of space and I've been given the OK to find it a new home (!!!!)

With 3 kids 5 and under, the progress is slower than you might think...for every minute I spend cleaning, they spend that same minute cluttering, spilling, spreading, dumping, destroying, or pooing in or on some other part of the house. One step forward, two steps back. But it's better than just two steps back, right?

I think we'll be in better shape once I can get rid of all the baby toys and clothes. We want another kid, in theory, but I don't think we're going to have one. Age, finances, blah blah blah. It just makes sense to stop now. That said, I'm not really ready to purge the infant stuff she's outgrown or won't use yet....that and the fear that once I do we'll have a little surprise in the oven. You guys know how much space that all takes up though...two full closets and pretty much the whole spare room full of pack and play, exersaucer, highchairs, etc. A ton of stuff. It will be really cathartic to get rid of it when I'm ready.....both mentally and for the physical space it will free up.

We know we are going to move at some point...don't know how far, could be across town, could be to another state. I keep thinking "would I take this with us?" As it turns out, there's not a lot of stuff here I'd actually take with us, especially to another state.

Off I go....hitting the linen closet first. Everything that isn't donation-worthy will got to the local cat shelter - they can always use linens of all types. Here we go!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

How Clean is Your House?

The kids and I watched two episodes of How Clean is Your House? today on BBC America. I didn't even know we had BBC America, but that's another tangent.

The answer to the question, is not clean enough, but a heck of a lot cleaner than the homes that were featured. Oh dear lord was it disgusting. My 5 year old actually said, "Mommy, it's too gross. I'm scared - turn it off, turn it off!" So I did. We missed the end of the episode featuring the dogwalker's flat. I'll trust that it came out nice and shiny, but went to work here to avoid the fate of the homes featured.

How is it that you can clean and clean and clean and yet the house looks just as bad as when you started? Or worse! It seems that if you want to do a really thorough job, you end up taking things out of cabinets and drawers and boxes and throwing some of it on the bed to organize later, and some into the laundry basket to fold or sort through for charity and before long you have an entire room full of mess when before you only had a bit of clutter and a floor that needed vacuuming. Or is it just me? Perhaps I'm going about this the wrong way.

My goal lately is to reduce the amount of Stuff in the house. Stuff takes up a lot of space and it seems to breed when you aren't looking. I have a theory that, unless you are Aaron Spelling, no matter how large a house you own, most people will accumulate enough Stuff to make it seem too small. We certainly have.

So I'm on a Stuff Purging Mission, which is why, in part, when I clean, it gets seemingly messier - the Stuff comes out of the woodwork. Apparently I have all this stuff in a some sort of a real life zip file, and uncompressing it makes it take up an entire room, whereas before it was all bunged into a cabinet. How is that possible? I would think it defies the laws of physics, but I'm no expert there.

Yesterday, in addition to a master bathroom scrub down, dishwashing all and recycling or tossing some of the bath toys, I bundled up all the sippy cups we don't use, the ones missing part, and the ones that I'm 90 but not 100% sure they don't contain BPA and send them to recycling or charity, as appropriate. Three plastic grocery bags full and yet the cabinet is still full. Decluttered, but still full - how is that possible? If only Newton were alive to explain.

One cabinet down, a bajillion to go. Next stop, the master bedroom armoire... [cue Psycho theme music]

Friday, May 22, 2009

One

Last night before her Birthday:


Smiling pretty for the official Birthday photo:


"What? I got an ear infection for my birthday?"

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Yellow Crowned Night Heron....in Love

I ran across a Yellow Crowned Night Heron yesterday at the arboretum.

"The Yellow Crested Night Heron is a very rare and elusive bird. To find this bird, like any bird, it is necessary to understand what its life is like.

When and where it will be is predictable, but sometimes it is just luck. The sun going down and coming up sets a timetable of activity. High tide and low tide can provide for many a time to eat or a time to build nests.

The Yellow Crested Night Heron is a difficult bird to see. It is called a Night Heron because of its nocturnal habits. It likes cool sleeping spots and nesting over still water. It seems to pick dark shade deep in the woods or caves at the edges of lagoons or in a gallery of trees that stand in water."

The park worker said that this particular one had shown up in the early morning and had been there at the pond all day; unusual behavior for a nocturnal bird.

We'll call him Romeo. Romeo fell hard for a pretty little thing we'll call Juliet. Juliet is lovely, attractive, and graceful, and unfortunately for Romeo, made entirely of plastic.

Despite his sexy suave bird moves, he is unable to get Juliet's attention and pines for her. Predictably, she continued to play hard to get:



He strutted left and right, showed off his wings, did a thing with his beak (see video) and tried so hard to impress her...it was a little sad, actually, knowing he was going to get shot down again and again. Hopefully if he remains there, they will remove the plastic bird - at least until he moves on to a lady friend who will appreciate his charms.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sad Day

Today we had to put our five year old girl tortoiseshell cat down. She was in liver failure caused by precisely what, we don't know. She may have had an intestinal blockage or or could have been liver cancer or any number of other things. We took her to the vet several times and they couldn't give us a clear diagnosis without spending more than we have to spend on a kitty - even a well-loved kitty.

She had been losing weight since December and despite several courses of drugs had become very unhappy in the last week or so and it was apparent to Mr. Lawyer and I that the benefit of prolonging her life was outweighed by the ethical duty to let her go with dignity when when was past the point that recovery was likely or even possible. Cats don't show pain - I think it must be a survival technique. But she had become extremely withdrawn over the last week and we had resorted to syringe feeding and watering her, which she couldn't keep down.

So the kids... The kids are at that age where death is still rather abstract. After much thought, I told them after preschool that I had taken her to the vet and that she was so very very very old and very very very sick that Mommy and the Doctor tried to fix her, but she died at the Vet's office. The 5 year old took it pretty hard. And then he asked if she was just bones now, like dinosaurs. The 3 year old wanted to know what happened to the body. Because I'm a big chicken, I told them I didn't know and that we could call the vet and ask next week. I'm hoping they forget by next week.

She was as old as my 5 year old, which is not old at all for a cat. Actually, she was probably born right around when I became pregnant with him. We got her in October 2003, right before his birth. She was starving, pregnant, miscarrying due to a severe infection, had intestinal parasites, and ringworm. Per the vet, she would not have lived but a few more days had we not taken her in. She not only recovered from all that but went on to become the fattest smooshiest kitty I've ever had. She had a good, extremely spoiled life here - that much I know.

R.I.P Nutmeg

Merry Early Christmas, Owl.

He (she?) is getting a fancy new nesting box courtesy of my dad - I've just printed off the directions and that's his new project. I've been reading a few different sites and apparently they like owl houses, so we are going to try to convince it to stay.

It appears that it is an Eastern Screech Owl - they are very common here and lots of other places too:

The Eastern Screech-Owl is the most common owl in Houston. Very small (8" - 9"), it has two color morphs: gray and red, with gray being the most common. Screech-Owls mainly eat insects, but also like to hunt for small fish and frogs.

They are relatively tame and curious, and have been known to follow evening strollers out of curiosity. They readily accept an owl house. Screech-Owls are best seen in the early evening or pre-dawn hours. Their call is long, descending quavering whinny. A second call is a long, low trill.
Merry Christmas, Owl!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Whoo-whoo are you?

Sighted today at my parents' house:

We think he is a juvenile screech owl, but it's possible it's full grown. He's about 7" long and full grown, he will be closer to 8-10". Considering how far I had to zoom in, a tripod certainly would have helped, I know.

There is a purple martin house about 10' from where this little guy has been roosting. The bird book says screech owls will nest in nesting boxes and sure enough, the birdhouse has been chewed away by squirrels on one side, making room for a larger bird to get through the hole. So the thought is that this owl is pretty fresh out of the nearby nest and so he roosts every day in my mother's fig tree (I've been getting daily owl-updates).

Double Geranium:


Ginger about to burst into bloom (See the yellow bloom popping out on the right? I must go back when it's in full bloom!):

Peekaboo!





And it's two days later now and I'm going to sneak in this little slideshow I just sent to Mr. Lawyer:

Saturday, May 9, 2009

¿Está claro?

3 Year Old: Glacier is Spanish for Ice.

5 Year Old: [in annoyed tone] I know that. I know everything.

Babybeast: Creeping Toward 12 Months Old

Here's my girl. She's modeling the very latest in vintage early-1970's baby fashion courtesy of Mommy's old wardrobe. That blanket is also mine - my grandmother made it and I was brought home from the hospital in it.

I'm planning on having another go at this, but this is what I have so far. For the record, wiggly babies are not so easy to capture on film unless you want your car keys in the shot also. Yes, I know - the blanket makes a really annoying background, but my mom is happy, so it is what it is. The next effort will probably just have a plain black background.












Pile of Leaves

Mr. Lawyer let them play in a small pile of leaves last week. The "pile" was comprised of about the same number of leaves you could jam into a bucket, which is, to say, not very many. The photos show the entire pile.

Reportedly, they took turns running from two houses down to jump in it. That's the spirit, boys.



Friday, May 1, 2009

Just for Jack

Free Mother's Day Card from Hallmark - Today Only


Signed, sealed, stamped, and sent - all online, courtesy of Hallmark.com.

All for free - how can you beat that? Well you can't.

Move fast - it's only good today. Cards here.

Promo code: CARD4MOM

Mother's Day is May 10, 2009.

Happy May Day!

Hey - it's May Day! Yeah, I forgot too - it's not exactly a big event these days (probably due to the lack of commercial opportunities), but one worth remembering,

I love the idea of May baskets - I'd never heard of them before. Obviously not a US tradition, but it looks like fun all the same. Maybe next year, so I can plan ahead....

From Wikipedia:
The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian, with the festival of Flora the Roman Goddess of flowers, the Walpurgis Night celebrations of the Germanic countries. It is also associated with the Gaelic Beltane. Many pagan celebrations were abandoned or Christianized during the process of conversion in Europe. A more secular version of May Day continues to be observed in Europe and America. In this form, May Day may be best known for its tradition of dancing the Maypole and crowning of the Queen of the May.

The day was a traditional summer holiday in many pre-Christian European pagan cultures. While February 1 was the first day of Spring, May 1 was the first day of summer; hence, the summer solstice on June 25 (now June 21) was Midsummer. In the Roman Catholic tradition, May is observed as Mary's month, and in these circles May Day is usually a celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In this connection, in works of art, school skits, and so forth, Mary's head will often be adorned with flowers. Fading in popularity since the late 20th century is the giving of "May baskets," small baskets of sweets and/or flowers, usually left anonymously on neighbours' doorsteps.
Here are a few simple May Day activities I found trolling the interwebz:

May Day Word Find

May Day History for Preschoolers

List of Ideas from Preschool Express

Coloring Pages from Everything Preschool

Computer Activity: Pages to Color Online

Make a Maypole (and other ideas)