Category Archives: Wonder if it Works Wednesday

What’s Going On Wednesday

Well, I planned to try a Write 31 Days month. However, I missed the first day and don’t want to start out behind on it. It’s not really even a thing anymore. So I’ve decided to just focus on blogging more this month.

I started a  post yesterday before my scheduled changed (yes, again). Unfortunately, I was so wiped out by the end of the day yesterday that I missed out on my Mom’s Night Out plans. Fell asleep around 9 PM!

In more positive news, the pork chop recipes I combined in the crock pot turned out pretty well. Layered browned pork chops between apples and onions, threw a couple teaspoons of maple syrup over each pork chop, and then added about 1/4 cup of apple cider to it all. Good fall flavor despite another 93 degree day.

My 31 Days plan was to get back to the heart of my blog. Bring back some old categories. Focus a bit more on organizing again. Share some recipes and fun things. I can still do all those things even if I don’t do them for 31 days in a row. 

When the ants invaded, I did end up reorganizing both sides of the pantry. The above photo shows the finished left side.  There wasn’t really too much to do there. Threw away some very expired tea and disposed of some expired medicines.  Found my missing snowman mugs, hopefully we won’t be using them too soon.

Since an old blog category used to be “Wonder If It Works Wednesday”, seems an ideal time and place to share my medicine cabinet make-over has functioned well for us since 2012!

Just a short post today as I wait on laundry to finish. What’s going on in your world on this first Wednesday in October?

Clearing Out My Books Using The KonMari Method

My plan is to use each Wednesday to share my thoughts on decluttering using the Marie Kondo method. I’m following a free printable checklist found here. Decided to give myself one week per category. One week per subcategory when I get to the miscellaneous section.

First, I want to make sure I point out that I’m only focusing on my items. This isn’t a whole house, family all together project (yet).

Clothing was easy. Books not so much. And I broke the rules a bit. I have more books in the basement but I only focused on the books upstairs. While it would have been a great workout, I didn’t have the energy for a billion trips up and down the stairs.

Books

Again, I made the bed my staging area. Can’t leave it covered if I want to sleep. 

Not very many books from upstairs. Might be a reason why I left downstairs alone though most of the downstairs books are kids and young adult books the boys and I read at the same time.

There’s a subcategory order to follow with the books: Cookbooks, general, kids, magazines, reference and textbooks, and phone books.

Confession #1: I kept every single one of my cookbooks during this stage! However, I did get rid of several loose magazine page recipes.  I started to wonder if I’d keep all my books.

However, after considering each book… 

An entire box to donate!

Confession #2: Shortly after taking this picture, I went to library and borrowed more books!

Final Thoughts on Clearing Out My Books with the KonMari Method:

  1. Her main book question outside of the spark joy one is will you re-read it? I found it easy to focus on which books I might pick up and re-read (not many) versus which I loved whether I planned to re-read them or not.
  2. It’s hard to stick to the category.  I took the cookbooks out of a super cluttered cabinet.  I’m trying to “follow the rules” at least a little so I left it and only focused on the books.
  3. It helped me to think of donating away the books as making room for new knowledge.
  4. Letting go of books I thought I should keep to “look smart” (we’ve all done that haven’t we?) also helped.
  5. The books left (upstairs) are ones that truly make me smile when I see them.
  6. I’ve read about her arbitrary number of 30 books and do think that’s silly. Books are too personal for that.

Confession #3: I completely forgot to sort my magazines. Luckily, I keep up with my magazines so this wasn’t a huge thing. However, I did go ahead and go through the bin, removing several old and outdated travel guides I’d hoarded.

*****

Have you ever cleared out books?  Did you find it difficult?

The next item on the checklist is papers. Everywhere I glance I see paper.  This one’s scary to me!

 

 

 

Thoughts On Tidying The Marie Kondo Way

I read her second book late last year, a book that left me a little cold. And then watched her TV show on Netflix. I found her personality in complete contrast to the first book I read.

So, I went ahead and jumped on the band wagon, requesting her first book from the library. The book she said to read first.  I’ve never been one to do things in the correct order.

I’m still reading the first book and mostly enjoying it.  Mostly, I get her ideas although a few parts do leave me going what? And thinking she might have had some childhood issues.

Found myself stuck at home on Monday and Tuesday. Perfect time for a bit of clutter clearing. I decided to just try her method. Starting with only my things as she suggests in the book if you can’t get the rest of the family to join in the “fun”.

Clothing first.

Admittedly, I was skeptical about it. I don’t really have too many clothes as I’m not exactly a size where I enjoy clothes shopping. Didn’t think I’d have very much to let go.And folding my clothes like that? Please.

Except….

  • My clothes mountain was a bit more than a mole hill after all  
  • Three bags of items to donate! 
  • And there is actually something kind of zen about folding clothes her way 

I really do find a bit of joy opening my drawers and seeing all my clothes, deciding what to wear. It’s nice to have a place to put my clean laundry. We’ll see how this all goes once the laundry (currently mostly done) piles up on us again.

Things listed under clothing I also went through: jackets, bags, shoes, jewelry. Some items on the list didn’t apply to me. I own exactly one swimsuit and no costumes. Not being much of a fashionista this category went pretty fast for me.  Books…well, that’s going to be different.

My exact thoughts after finishing category 1 tidying:

  • I think her main point is to love the things you own. And not bury the things where you can’t see and enjoy them. This is much easier when the things you don’t want/need/love aren’t in the way.
  • The get it all done at once method appeals to my personality. It’s not a spend all your time doing this so much as a finish this category and then, move on to the next. There’s less decision-making for me if I know I’m working on clothes vs picking out a set number of random items each day.
  • I really would like to hear her and the Flylady debate.
  • Distractions still happen but they’re easier to move past if you have a plan: This is a sentimental item, save for last. This is miscellaneous, save for that category. I can’t go to bed with this stuff everywhere (Especially if it’s covering the bed! Am I the only one wondering if those people in the show slept on the sofa or shoved their things on the floor?).
  • Her focus is purely on tidying and clearing out stuff. I like that she’s not telling me how or when to clean my kitchen or bathroom.
  • I think this works for me (so far) because I’m in a bit of a transition year. Things look different to me with older kids, one leaving home for college in the fall.

Have you tried tidying up her way? What did you think?

*I may try to update my thoughts on this each Wednesday as I work through all the categories. There’s a great printable checklist here if you want to see the order of clearing items Marie Kondo deems important.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wonder if it Works Wednesday: The Middle School Student Edition

I woke up today and realized that it is the first Wednesday of September!  That means it is time for another round of Wonder if it Works Wednesday around here where I revisit a previous organizing project and share how it is working (or not).  Since schools are  just now starting for some of you (we’ve been plugging away since August 14 over here), I thought I’d take a look back at my attempt to organize my middle school student last year.

Last year I shared this post about my attempts to get the child organized and then, this post about some strategies I was evaluating.  So, what did I end up doing and it did it work?  Has it made a difference this year?

Honestly, I didn’t end up doing very much.   I think the small amount of organization with the binder helped quite a bit ( Pareto Principle in action).  Did that mean we didn’t have any more lost papers or that I never had to remind him to do his homework or practice the clarinet for the rest of the year?  Um, no.   However, he made very good grades (A’s) last year.

One thing that I think made a big difference was when I backed off a little bit and let him find his own way.   However, I did check his grades and assignments on Powerschool (If your school district offers some type of online grade tracking, I strongly encourage you to use it to check on things as well as contact the teachers if you need help or have questions.) to make sure his grades were up to par (i.e., he wasn’t flunking any classes due to missing assignments).  He was usually checking it right along with me.

Here is our current after school routine for his 7th grade year:

He gets home from school and I try to jump in with some conversation before the X-box turns on and all the conversation is between him and his friends.  I ask my son the following two questions every school day:

How was your day? 

Sometimes I even get more than a grumbled “fine” like the day when they changed all the students’ schedules and teachers around because of a computer “scheduling issue”.  He had lots to say that day.

What is your homework status?

He’ll usually give a reasonable answer like “math, band, and reading”  So then I say, “What is your plan for getting it done?”   He usually does have a plan.  He doesn’t always follow it (sounds a bit too familiar!) but he does usually have a plan that I will sometimes need to remind him about putting into action.  “I thought you said you were going to practice at 7:30?  It’s 7:30.”  That goes over about like you think it would with a 12-year-old but the books (or clarinet) usually come out.  I’ve also found that a bit of humor helps.  If I think to say “I thought I was going to be treated to a clarinet concert starting at 7:30” instead of “Why aren’t you practicing?”, it gets better results.  The results still come with eye-rolling.  Sorry, I have no solution for that aspect of the tween/teen personality.

******************

So far the beginning of this year has been much calmer than last year even with his schedule and teachers changing all around.  I think just having that element of the unknowns of middle school gone helps tremendously.  We also sat down and organized his binder BEFORE school started this year and he opted to not carry a backpack/messenger bag at all.  They aren’t allowed to carry their backpacks into the classrooms anyway.   His binder has a strap and a couple of pockets but without the extra backpack, he has to decide on what to do with his papers rather than jam them into the bottom of a bag.  I’m hopeful that there an avalanche of paper isn’t in his locker.  I think this is close to the binder he uses (I should have thought to take a picture of it before he left for school).  That doesn’t mean that we haven’t had a few issues here and there already with hey, you need to practice your instrument or what do you mean you are suddenly remembering you had social studies homework now that it is 9p.m.?  No system is perfect 100% of the time but the routine of the above 2 questions does work pretty well for us MOST of the time.

I’m calling this organizing project a success although I have to give credit it where it is due and say this organizing success mainly belongs to my son.

 

Wonder if it Works Wednesday, I Stink at Math

It has been a rough August already with sad memories and yesterday combined but I started this post over the weekend and decided to stick with it for my Wonder if it Works Wednesday in August.

This one is a hard post to write because it is one thing to admit  an organizing project failed.  You simply adjust and move on.  It’s easy to share on a blog because most of the time our organizing projects are pretty and not all that personal, neatly stacked linens and insides of refrigerators are fun to see but the posts usually don’t go any deeper than that.   What about when you share a personal goal on your blog and then have to fess up later about how horribly you’ve been in taking pretty much not too many if any steps to achieve it?  I’ve been avoiding giving any update whatsoever on my Weight Loss Math post for a long time.

I always did find addition easier than subtraction and I was (my kids love to roll their eyes at this story that I’ve shared with them a few too many times) the 5th person in my grade school class to memorize my multiplication tables winning that last coveted can of orange soda back when we didn’t have electricity and traveled by horse and buggy.  Yes, my boys think I am that old.  They are off by just a couple of years.  Maybe that is why instead of writing about my success in losing weight so far, I’m sharing a story that is more about failing to do so.

So, way back in January I had this plan that I was going to spend the year losing 5 pounds each month and by year-end I’d have met my goal (cringing at that word over here) of losing 60 pounds.  Ahem.  I guess I will need to adjust that to try to lose 12 pounds each month until year-end.  So for those of you with great math skills and maybe those of you without like me, that means that I have made ZERO PROGRESS on this one.

LOSER

photo credit: Out. of. Focus. via Flickr

Maybe I should have looked for a photo that said “GAINER” as that may have been more appropriate.   So what went wrong?  Well, I have a few theories including that I’m just a bit lazy.   I started out pretty well with Leslie Sandstone and using My Fitness Pal.    I never developed the habits.  I did discover right before the boys came home for summer break that I enjoyed doing Wii Dance and did that for a bit.  I really liked it because it felt less like the evil exercise word and more like fun.   However, once the boys came home for the summer, I lost my consistency on that as well.

These are all going to sound like excuses and they are just that.  However, maybe if I list them out, I can figure out a way to make this happen.

  • I can’t figure out a good time to exercise.  I’m not exactly a morning person and then again, I’m not much of a night person.  However, it is not practical or convenient to get sweaty right at mid-day since that is when a lot of obligations tend to fall and I don’t want to be the stinky person in the room.

  • I’m an emotional eater but I’m also going to tell you right now that carrots do NOT have the same crunch as potato chips nor does fruit cut it when I want chocolate.  Call me whiny but I don’t want to think about what I’m eating for the rest of my life whether I should be eating carrots or carrot cake (we all know the correct answer).

  • I do better if I don’t keep junk in the house but with my husband and 2 boys that isn’t exactly easy to achieve even when I’m the one who does the majority of the grocery shopping.  They ask for it.  My husband buys his own and brings it home.  I don’t do well with having just one potato chip.

  • It was easier when I lived alone because I didn’t have to worry about anyone else.

I’m not going to give up because I’m pretty much as stubborn as the fat that stuck to my body but I am going to re-evaluate and see if I can’t manage a bit of micro progress even.  So, I need to determine a good time to exercise, stop eating when I’m happy, sad, glad, mad, and bored, and just let them whine about the lack of junk food.  If my husband does bring it into the house, I need to ignore it.  I am also going to make a list of what I did when I lived by myself and ask myself if there is any reason why I couldn’t do those things now although I won’t be going back to drinking the mass quantities of Diet Coke I used to consume.

Sounds easy, right?  Ahem.  I’m still not that person who is going to slap billboards up all over my personal Facebook page that I’m trying to lose weight or share the calorie count of every cookie consumed at a party.   Anyone else ever struggled in this area and came out on the lighter side?

 

 

 

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