Friday, November 30, 2007

Pure organizing joy!

Before I do any (very overdue) updating, I have to rave about a little something an online friend of mine created -- no, PERFECTED -- for those of us who need a little organization in our lives to stay sane.

It's called The Plan. And while it is an annual planner, it's NOT just any planner. Julie has thought of everything a homeschooling (or unschooling) mom (or dad) might need. From monthly budgeting pages to a page for makes and model numbers, from kids' milestones to medical visits, you'll find a place for it. If you can find something that's missing, go ahead and let her know, she's taking feedback still. But I think you'll find that she really put a lot of thought and effort into creating a beautifully designed planner that will simplify and inspire your life. She has two versions -- one for homeschooling parents who need extra pages to keep curriculum planning organized, and one for unschooling parents with quotes to inspire us on our learning journeys.

I particularly love the Christmas organizing pages -- so if you're in the middle of your holiday preparations and already feeling overwhelmed, go download The Plan! She's even included the Advent readings to keep us focused on what's most important during this busy season. And it'll make a great Christmas gift, too! It's $16.99 for over 180 pages of pure organizing joy -- and three different colorful covers to choose from. Grab a binder and get printing -- you can print out as many or as few of the pages as you find useful.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

I'm so NOT a neat freak. Anymore.

I let the housekeeper go on Monday. It was stressing me out to have to clean for her every two weeks.

She'd either come while I was on my period, too tired and cranky to care about picking up toys, sorting mail and catching up on the laundry and dishes that would be in her way. Or she'd come two days after I'd just cleaned so we could have company over.

She was very nice, but I like having control over my own mess. (If I can call it "control" or "mine" when living with three kids and a husband who's the opposite of a nitnick. Is there a nice synonym for slob?). In any case, sometimes I want to let the clutter pile up for a week or two. And sometimes I sweep the floors three times in one day because I want to go barefoot without stepping on crumbs.

The only thing I'll really miss is not having to clean the bathtub. Which I should have been doing more often than every two weeks anyway considering the amount of dirt my children bring to it nearly every night.

That said, I've been coming to terms with my own variation of anal-retentive slobbishness. You know, that quality of the imperfectionist housewife who "can't" cook unless the kitchen's perfectly clean -- but doesn't really want to clean it either.

Some people would just call it laziness, but anal-retentive slobbishness sounds more like a legitimate medical condition. "Medical" being a loose term, of course.

Don't go writing me a prescription for Paxil just yet. Because every once in a while I come into contact with a breed of people that make me feel incredibly easy-going, even downright emotionally healthy.

My husband was invited to a family bbq at a co-worker's house this afternoon. They have two little kids and one more on the way, and I figured it would be a kid-friendly house and yard with plenty to keep my three happy. If I had nothing to talk about with his co-workers and their spouses, chasing a toddler is always a good way to look busy.

The completely uncluttered living room was my first clue that my assumptions might be wrong. We continued through the family room where the wives were chatting, and I looked around for a good place for the kids to settle. No toys appeared, so we headed out back to meet more people. A huge barbecue sat on the patio, and tables were set up across the lawn. At the end of the yard a faux-rock staircase led to a lovely waterfall.

But there wasn't a single yard toy.

No sandbox or swingset. No trikes. No slide. No balls. Was it possible these people had just moved in that morning and hadn't unpacked the toys yet? They had a nearly-4-year-old boy and 2-year-old girl. They must have at least one grandparent. How could they have gone through three Christmases and five birthdays with no yard toys??

No matter. My boys immediately took to climbing up and down the rock steps to look at the waterfall. Not the baby, but the big boys, who are perfectly capable of climbing stairs safely. Unfortunately, that turned out to be against the house rules.

Eventually we found a toybox hiding in the corner of the living room, and then a few more toys in the boy's bedroom. My sons happily dug out dinosaurs and blocks and scattered them across the floor. Until the 4-year-old suddenly realized that his room was getting "messy" and started putting the toys away so his dad wouldn't see it.

At this point, I was getting scared. Would Child Protective Services consider it abuse to keep a house too neat and clean?

Knowing that both parents work full-time, it's probably reasonable to assume that they don't spend much time at home even on weekends. Or maybe they just spend the weekend cleaning. Because the place was spotless. Spotless, cold, and stiff. Like a corpse carefully prepared for viewing. Unnaturally perfect in a way they never were when alive.

It was not a house I could imagine being a child in.

My house, on the other hand, is often excessively "lived in." And I think I like it that way. Feel free to drop crumbs on my floor if you ever come over and it feels uncomfortably clean.
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