10 and 10: How to de-clutter daily

The semester is winding down.  Three weeks of classes.  Just three weeks.  And while the work and projects and page counts soar, so, too, does the clutter around our house.  Some days, it just overwhelms me, how much stuff we have as a family of five.  So I’ve decided to do something about it.  I call it 10 and 10.

10: Every day, I get rid of 10 items in our home.  Items so far have ranged from an old, rusty necklace to a shirt I no longer wear to a kid’s meal toy to part of a kid’s meal toy.  Getting rid of it entails tossing or donating.  I have a diapers box in my closet where I have been collecting my donation items, and our garbage can is already full for the week!

What went this week?  Here are a few of the things I can remember:

  • dried out nail polish containers
  • expired make-up
  • worn-out and unworn shoes
  • worn water toys
  • old plastic organizers
  • a couple of t-shirts

Each day, I started in a different room.  First the back bedroom.  Then my room.  The kitchen.  The laundry room.  The front bathroom, etc.  Usually, the first item or two make me pause a little bit, but by nine and ten (or while I am chatting with Caroline), tossing becomes so much easier.

And here’s the best part: I feel so much lighter afterward.  Like I can physically feel clutter retreating.  Definitely a domestic rush.

Now for the second half…

And 10: This phase, I just came up with the other night, but I haven’t implemented it yet.  I plan to start tomorrow night.  This ten refers to ten minutes.  Before I get ready for bed, I am going to start spending ten minutes straightening up and putting things away around the house.  Who knows?  Maybe I will even throw a few more items away.  At the very least, I will get to wake up to a house that is a little bit tidier.  Which means I will wake up a little bit more content.

I am starting to believe that there is a definite correlation between clutter and my productivity levels.  Sometimes I can ignore the clutter, especially when I am in full throttle survival mode.  But sometimes I can’t.  10 and 10, I think, will help me manage the clutter with a daily dose of working to manage and cut down on it.

I’m pretty pumped about this plan!  By Christmas, I’m hoping for some clear shelves and unstuffed drawers.  I’m hoping to make this a habit I can maintain.

Less clutter = more productivity and less stress

I like that equation a lot.


My new online hobbies: coding, Spanish, and organization

1.  Codecademy.  My brother introduced me to this website, and I have been enjoying my first taste of computer programming on it.  In the past couple of weeks, I have earned 134 points and 11 badges.  I love the positive reinforcement as I progress through coding fundamentals and applications.  Pretty soon, I’ll be able to code a blackjack game!  From a n00b’s perspective, Codecademy offers an accessible entry point into JavaScript and other programming topics and languages.  I’m a fan.

2.  Duolingo.  Though the online program is still in the beta phase, I am pretty pumped about it.  It is a web-based program designed to teach Spanish, French, and German.  I have been working on Spanish for a couple of weeks, and like Codecademy, Duolingo offers positive reinforcement and solid structure.  It also offers plenty of opportunities to practice new vocabulary and language skills with real Spanish on the web.  In July, I am going to start working through a Spanish for Reading Knowledge textbook, so we’ll see how much Duolingo can prepare me for that.

3.  Trello.  If you love lists and organization, check this site out.  You can move items on your to-do list through stages (like to-do, doing, done).  You can also invite members to a group and organization tasks, team members, etc for a common project.  I have set up a couple of boards (one for my summer course, one for summer, and one for my family).  The site is easy to learn and easy to use.  Another recommendation from my brother.  Thanks, Bren!

How to manage a toddler’s art gallery

Riley brings home projects and activities from preschool almost daily. We’ve seen it all: coloring, painting, penguins, and cotton poofs. Some of it is good. Some of it, let’s be honest, isn’t. But she did it, so that makes it special. Special enough to display for a time? Yes, definitely. Special enough to take a picture of. Sure. Special enough to keep for all eternity in an ever-growing artwork archive? Certain items, yes. The vast majority, no.

So I tackle the accumulation of projects and papers with a process that involves three main steps: display, capture, and keep/toss. Here’s how it works:

Display –

As Riley brings home projects, up they go on the two corkboards we have up on a wall in her room. Over a month or two months, the corkboards fill up with penguins, bears, drawings, and hand-drawn reindeer.

Capture –

Once the boards are full, I take a picture of the collage. I also zoom in on a few really cool pieces. Then down they come.

Keep/Toss –

Then it is decision time. Most of the projects get tossed at this point, but a few (like a certain hand-drawn reindeer) get put in her bin. The boards are cleared off again, ready for more artwork.

Down the road, I want to put together a photo album of all her project collages. I also want to put the saved projects in sheet protectors and put them together in a binder. Those might be summer projects…or projects for two summers from now… 🙂

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Sunday in Atlanta

Our family fieldtrip to Atlanta was a big success! First we went to the Children’s Museum which was a blast for Riley and Adrian. The museum had sand tables, water tables, a paint area, a special section devoted to Clifford, a market, a tree house, a stage, a garden, and a machinery section.  Everything was on one floor, and the space was designed really well.  They even had a nursing room for moms, tables for families to eat at, and birthday party spaces.  Mostly, Shawn and I divided and conquered.  One of us would go with Riley, the other with Adrian and Sidney.  We spent a solid two and a half hours there, and Riley wasn’t quite ready to leave (though Adrian was exhausted!).  What fun!

A couple of observations:

1.  Children’s museums need more than one changing table in a bathroom.  Every time I went to the bathroom, there was a line!

2. Atlanta moms know how to rock the heels! In my North Face fleece, jeans, and Sperry’s, I would have fit right in in Athens, but I was definitely under-dressed as a mom for Atlanta!  My feet hurt just watching these women chase after their toddlers.

Afterwards, we headed a couple of miles down the road to IKEA.  For Shawn and the kids, it was their first time.  Riley went to play in Smallland for forty-five minutes, and the rest of us chugged it around the showroom and marketplace.  Forty-five minutes flies in IKEA!  We picked up a couple of wooden toys Shawn wanted to get Adrian, some new plastic-ware for the kids (I am always running out of bowls.  By the end of the day, I think we go through a dozen easily!), a new lint-roller, a closet organizer, and some batteries.  A quick note: these closet organizers are fantastic.  Really sturdy, lots of space, looks good.  I already had this one in pink for Riley’s stuff, but I wanted one in green for Adrian’s.

I am looking forward to a time when we can do some major IKEA shopping, but that will have to wait until I am making good money again and we are settled somewhere.  Shawn even said we could.  And now that I’ve blogged about it, he can’t back out! 🙂

We hit McDonald’s on the way home because I didn’t want to cook or have to clean anything, I had an 80 page article to read, and I really wanted this…