Saturday, March 31, 2012

40 bags: week five

Confession: my 40 bags resolve weakened a bit this week.

For the most part, I have been keeping up with one space per day (besides Sunday) and this is the first week that I fell behind. 
I was gone over the weekend and when I came back home the week hit me like a truck + I wasn't looking forward to the items on my list.

I soldiered on, however, and doubled up a couple of days until I was back on track.

Day 28: paper piles.

We have a desk in our kitchen and it collects major clutter. I have a pretty good system in place, it just needs to be weeded through every now and then. I try to recycle things immediately if I know I won't need them and then I have a square bin on the desk that I use as a catch-all for the maybe's. The for-sure-keeps get filed in these folders (above) that are housed in a PB caddy.

Day 29: books & magazines.

I don't usually hold onto a lot of books and magazines after I read them because I know I won't reference them again. I don't like to read books more than once (with a few exceptions) and I try to tear interesting articles from magazines as I go. Tossing catalogs promptly keeps me from being tempted to buy things I don't need.
Our Paper Gator recycle bin benefited from today's purge!

Day 30: craft/office closet.

This closet is semi-organized but it can quickly deteriorate into a hot mess. (I like to blame this on the children). We keep the kids' craft supplies in here as well as office supplies and games. 
I removed some trash (i.e. broken crayons and used up coloring books) and added some items to the donate pile.

Day 31: paperwork & files.

More paper...ugh! Again, I did work at developing a system a while back and it's holding up pretty well. I have two places where we store files - a small file box and then these three binders (originally inspired by this post). Therefore, I have two magazine holders in place for needs-to-be-filed for items that belong in the file box and one for items that go in the binders.

Day 32: front closet.

We have three different coat closets in our house which is overkill if you ask me. One of them actually holds coats, the second one is our craft/office closet, and this third one is a catch-all for my scrapbooking supplies, file stuff, note cards, exercise equipment, random electronics/cords (on the upper shelf that you can't see), and, of course, the vacuum.

Day 33: digital files.

I have a basic folder system in place and I try to keep up with it, but in the busyness of life this often falls through the cracks. I keep our photos sorted by year and then by month. Within each month, I also have a spot for blog-related (usually edited) photos and Instagrams. It's really hard for me to delete any pictures involving my kids, 
but I'm learning to be better at it. 
(For a good post on digital photo organizing/purging check out this one from IHeart Organizing.)
I also backed up our music and photos on to our external hard drive (which I hadn't done since January 2010!)

Day 34: craft supplies.

B.P. (Before Pinterest) I can't say that craft supply organization was a problem for me...because I didn't own any craft supplies. Now that my inner-crafter has been awakened (and thanks to our monthly craft night), I find myself with piles of crafting goodness. I had this three drawer plastic organizer in the basement that I had re-purposed into my supply cabinet, but the existing system involved simply shoving things into the drawers.

Post Purge: an hour or so later, and I was back in the game. 
I dumped everything out, sorted through the keeps and the tosses, carefully reloaded, and then labeled the whole shebang. 
Ahhhhh. Much better.

* * * * *

This week was a bit of a challenge for me, but now the end is in sight. One week to go, six more spaces. Home. Stretch.
And I'm taking a nice, deep breath because next week it's time to tackle the {very unfinished, very full-of-stuff} B-A-S-E-M-E-N-T.
Stay tuned.

{Linking Up}
IHeart Organizing

Friday, March 30, 2012 {March marches on}

It's March in Michigan! 
We've enjoyed some 85 degree record-breaking weather...
and now we're back to waking up to frosty mornings.

Besides crafting, purging, running, and retreating
here's what else we've been up to:

We're constantly amazed at what Dylan pulls out of his backpack at the end of the week. His owl art is already framed and this one might find a home on the wall as well.

There may eventually be an entire cleanse-themed post, but I'm still recovering, so we'll see. (But these were really good!)

A perfectly enjoyable Wednesday morning: 
after an AM drop-off for the JBF sale {a mom-to-mom consignment sale}, T & hit up Madcap Coffee followed by a visit to the park with the kids for a truly urban experience.

An item I've been itching to cross of my Year 32 list
improve my 5K time. I ran The Jig, and I was so excited to spot my 24:57 time hanging up in the gym afterwards.
I'm happy to report that I can cross #3 off!

Daddy has learned that if you bring home flowers for one girl, 
you have to bring home flowers for the rest of them too.

After a morning of vigorous, sweat-inducing garage cleaning, Mommy treats the girls to McDonald's for lunch, 
complete with ponies and ketchup drinking.

My longest (distance & time) long run to date: 12 miles. 
The really amazing part was that I felt good the entire time, 
and I ran it (relatively) fast (9:45 minute/mile pace) too!

More art by our favorite 1st grader: mad, happy, sad.

Needtobreathe does Grand Rapids!
I love my husband for taking me out on a Monday night
(and for introducing me to great music in the first place!)

A college-era chicken-themed inside joke comes full circle 13 years later. Who knew there were so many varieties of chickens??

And lastly, my shoe wardrobe is getting an update with the addition of these new kicks (above) and these ones too (in gray flannel).
I'm thinking about adding a pair of Toms to the rotation as well, but I'm having a terrible time deciding which ones. Any suggestions??

See you later, March! Bring it on, April!

life rearranged

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

{Holy} Retreat-ing

Last weekend I spent two days on the shores of Lake Michigan on a Holy Yoga retreat.

Um hmmm. I know.

I discovered Holy Yoga about a year ago because a woman at our church started offering a (free!) class once a week. We were just getting into our workout challenge and figured it would be a nice way to add some variety and community into our exercise routine. We wound up with a little more than we bargained for.

Holy Yoga is basically a Christian form of yoga. In a nutshell, it includes a lot of the beautiful parts of traditional yoga without any of the new age-ish elements...I like to call it "Jesus Yoga" (for more on what Holy Yoga is about, go here). I love the connection that Holy Yoga makes between what's going on in my physical self and what's going on in my spiritual self.

I received an email from the Holy Yoga instructor about a month ago about a retreat in March, and I instantly had this sense like this is something I would really like to do. I hadn't been practicing yoga lately because our weekly schedule and pace of life doesn't currently allow for it, but I jumped on board quickly and said yes. For the next couple of weeks I wondered what on earth I had gotten myself into.

In the end, it ended up being a really sacred, restorative, beautiful weekend. There were no expectations, nothing was forced, everything flowed together seamlessly. (Kind of like a really great yoga practice. Crazy.) I met some amazing women who left a deep impression on me. We ate, conversed, laughed, listened, sat still, and spent a lot of quality time on our mats.

I think I will always look back on this weekend as a marker...a in between place on my way to some place else.

{My Retreat Reflections}
AKA [Almost] Everything I needed to know about life I learned on a Holy Yoga retreat.

  1. Slow down.
  2. When God nudges you, listen.
  3. We all carry a story.
  4. Women are beautiful, beautiful creatures.
  5. A friendship isn't really cemented until you've shared a pull-out couch.
  6. Deep, sometimes silent, soul-shaking laughter is where it's at.
  7. We must root down to rise up.
  8. Yes is more fun than no.
  9. Gluten-free communion crackers are really, really crunchy, i.e. LOUD (Plan your crunching wisely!)
  10. God wants your heart above your head.
  11. We can learn from each other when we take the time to listen.
  12. Yes, you can make an amazing cake out of black beans (of all things!)
  13. Two are better than one.
  14. Don't forget to breathe.

And lastly, this poem was shared on the retreat and it spoke deeply to my heart. I hope it speaks to yours as well.

Life is Calling 
A small investment in one step 
Produces rich results 
Beyond what you can dream 
So shelve the hideaways 
The high performance 
The hardeners 
The penetrating grey 
And take on a whole new beautiful 
Turn ordinary works into 
An extraordinary existence 
Everything you need to turn 
Slate blue into summer straw 
Is here 
Welcome to safety - and adventure 
On a path that suits your 
Specific needs 
In a way you can’t imagine 
Life is calling 
To one step 
No preparation 
Just a leap of Faith 
So be transformed by the falling 
Start as who you think you are 
And find joyous, dancing water. 

-Kelly Moore

Thursday, March 22, 2012

40 bags: week four

It's week four! At this point, my 40 bags daily to-do item has become a natural, even favorite, part of my everyday routine.
I find purging, cleaning, and organizing to be good for the soul.

{And I realize the 40 bags challenge is more about purging than anything else, but I inevitably find myself cleaning the space after it's emptied and organizing what's left post-purge.}

Feel free to call me crazy.

Day 22: main floor toys.
Most of the toys are stored in the kids' rooms because toys on the main floor make Mommy crazy but some of them, especially Mady's, still reside in our living areas. I love nothing more than dumping out all the toy baskets into a giant heap, ditching the junk, putting pieces back together, and returning everything to it's correct place.

Day 23: shoes.
I've been purging shoes along the way, especially during mudroom day and my/Matt's closet day, but I still found a few stragglers. 
Six more pairs out the door.

Day 24: TV cabinets.
We're not big DVD people (and our CD's are all stored on our computer) so there wasn't a ton to sort through here. Love these brown DVD boxes from Ikea for keeping everything in order.

Day 25: our van.
I'm lucky enough to be married to a guy who values a clean vehicle so usually things don't get too bad in this department. I did remove some trash and random trinkets and then I vacuumed and wiped everything down. I found this little caddy in the garage, cleaned it up, and filled it with the random items that are usually just rolling around on the floor. (Thanks again, Pinterest. I owe you big.)

Days 26 & 27: the garage.
I broke this into two days but ended up doing it all in one day 
(it took me an entire morning). I capitalized on this crazy, crazy 80-degrees-in-March-in-Michigan weather and employed an assistant (she does great work and only charges 25 cents).

Garage toys. Sigh. Three kids at three different stages 
(and a hubby who loves to bike) means we have a lot of different modes of transportation housed in our garage. 
Thank goodness for a third stall.

Balls. Sand buckets. Small toys. Oh my.
Big tubs make it easy for little hands to aim, shoot, and hopefully score.

Out with the snowpants (I couldn't quite work up the nerve to put the boots away) and in with the baseball gloves.
Bonus points: I swept the floors and hosed everything down.

Now to see if spring sticks...if it does, we're ready!

{Linking Up}
IHeart Organizing Bloggy Reading52 Mantels

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Gettin' Jiggy

One year ago, almost to the day (same race, same Saturday), Theresa and I worked up the courage to register for our first ever 5K, brave the lines at packet pick-up, risk looking like dorks pinning on our bibs, figure out how the timing chips worked, and eventually, 27 minutes and 30 seconds later to be exact, we strode over the finish line, completely and utterly exhausted, dazed, ecstatic, and dare I say, hooked.

Another 5Ka 10Ka mud runa 15Ka winter rush (what can I say? we like variety), countless training runs, and multiples pairs of running shoes later, we finally feel comfortable calling ourselves "runners".

Today has been on my radar for some time now - a chance to come full circle, and an opportunity to knock #3 off my list.

The only thing that would have made today sweeter was if my running buddy/soul sister's IT band hadn't started acting up a couple of weeks ago. In her kind, giving way, however, Theresa happily drove to the race with me today, held my stuff, and cheered me on from the curb at the final turn.

My basic goal was to finish in the 25' bigger, more out-there goal was to finish in the 24's (8 minute mile pace).

As I have been getting to know more and more runners I find myself getting caught up in the fact that so and so is faster or has more experience or can run longer or whatever. It's easy to start to compare and then beat yourself up when you don't feel like you measure up. It's not logical (and I'm a logical kind of girl) and if there's one thing I've learned, it's that comparison is the thief of joy.

So today I feel happy. Happy that packet pick-up and race day parking no longer stress me up. Happy that I'm one of those people who choose to spend their Saturday mornings running for the fun of it. Happy that I have friends and family who support me wholeheartedly. Happy that it's 75 degrees in Michigan in March. Happy that my hard work is paying off, and I feel healthy and strong.

And right now, in this moment, really, really happy that I met my goal.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

40 bags: week three

Seven more days of the 40 bags challenge have come and gone.
I continued on with upstairs (bedroom/bathroom) projects.

Day 15: my jewelry.
I have an organizer thing-y I found at Marshalls in a drawer in our bedroom and this Ikea rail + s-hooks behind my closet door.

Day 16: our nightstands. 
Matt chipped in and helped me clear out some paper-related clutter.

I love crossing things off the list!

Day 17: upstairs linen closet.
I overhauled this area a while back, but clutter has a way of creeping back in. See you later sunscreen circa 2003!

Day 18: kids' bathroom.
This turned into more of an exercise in deep-cleaning ( toothpaste e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e), but I did toss some old baby washcloths, icky toothbrushes, and worn-out bath toys. 
I also dropped off my second load of stuff to Love INC.

Day 19: Dylan's bedroom.
He's the neatest of the three, but I still moved out a pile of clothes, a stack of books, and a bag of junk (McDonald's Happy Meal toys!?)
Side note: last summer's toy organization project is still working well!

Day 20: Ella's bedroom.
She's my messy one, and it's been a parenting lesson to let her be her (within reason). The weather was beautiful yesterday so after I tackled Dylan's room I kept going and did Ella's too. 
Besides the purge treatment, their rooms also got freshly washed bedding and dusted surfaces. Glorious!

Day 21: Mady's bedroom
I've been working hard on organizing this space and making it a fun place to play since our baby isn't really a baby anymore but an energetic toddler. Her toys were pre-purged a couple of weeks ago, and I cleared out some clothes that no longer fit (it's so tempting to put away all the winter stuff too!) I love these Ikea drawer organizers for keeping track of the little stuff.

* * * * *

We're over halfway there, and I'm still having as much fun as I was on day one. I realize this might make me a little bit odd, but it helps that I have been able to get through most of the days' tasks in about half an hour (some of them like the kids' rooms took me longer). 

One day at a time, one space at a time, one bag at a time
and I'm starting to see some results just in time for spring.

Help me find the way by 
going up through down; 
finding through letting go; 
filling through emptying.

{Linking Up}

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