Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Crazy Town

Would you look at those crazy, crazy colors? I just finished a project with these colors that took me a month to complete from start to finish.

Do you remember this kitchen table that I refinished over the summer? Well, I cutified the chairs that go with it. No way was I going to strip, sand, and refinish six chairs, so I opted to prime, paint, and seal instead. 

Each chair took a rough sanding, then two coats of primer, two coats of paint, a coat of crackle glaze, another coat of paint, and two coats of clear gloss. That's a lot of drying time, my friends.

Hence a month to cutify six chairs.

And it was worth every day.

I'll give you a minute to process what you're seeing.

Are you ready now?

Are you ready now?

How about now?

Peanut Head had a similar reaction. When I started on this adventure, I had just finished covering the first chair in pumpkin when he opened the door to the garage.

He stood there with his mouth agape and he had no words.

"You're stunned. I can see that," was my response. I don't generally give Peanut Head a heads up when I'm about to embark on decorating adventures like this, because I don't want to give him the opportunity to try to talk me out of it.

Hence the startled silence.

He then gave me his blinky eyed looked, not unlike the beginnings of a seizure, and replied "That's exactly the word I was looking for," and turned around and quietly closed the door.

I think he needed some time to process what he saw.

Zoe was a little more vocal with her opinion.

"Mom! What are you trying to do to us?! Nobody is ever going to want to buy our house when you keep doing all this crazy stuff to it!"

All that and still she wasn't done.

"I could maybe see it if we were a Mexican restaurant, but our house is not a Mexican restaurant!"

Then after that she just kept talking and I don't know what all she said because I had to just tune her out. Her negativity was harshing my mellow.

The yellow chair in particular is her least favorite. It looks like puke she said.

It's all good though because Stinkerbell is on my side. "It doesn't matter what they think," she said, "because neither one of them is very artistic, so their opinion doesn't matter."

Yeah. What she said.

Zoe is not allowed to sit in my pukey chairs. I sit in all the chairs because I love them all so much. Sometimes I sit in two chairs because I can't decide which one I love the most.

Changing the subject, a lot has happened since I last visited with you.

My babies started another school year.

Zoe Bug started high school.

She still has no horse.

Stinkerbell started middle school.

And Cross Country.

She's very, very tired.

Glitter Man and I succeeded in our attempt to bring the Renaissance Woman into the twenty first century by holding her hand while she bought her first computer. #shepaidwithacheck

We have crazy amounts of cherry tomatoes in our garden.

So I've been making a lot of this salad. I can't get enough of it. The recipe calls for cilantro and olive oil as well, but it really doesn't need either one. It's perfection in a bowl, I'm not kidding.

I've also made a couple batches of this Fresh Roasted Summer Garden Pasta Sauce for the freezer.

So you can see I've been happily busy doing my thing, so I think it's time to update you on my job situation. I did mention that I accepted a position as a Math Specialist in our district, but I haven't really been talking about it because a) it's a new position and I wasn't crystal clear on what all my new position involved, and b) I was still feeling a little icky about the whole "I'm leaving education/just kidding, I'm back" flakiness that it appears I'm exhibiting with this announcement.

In my mind I was finished with education. I wasn't kidding and I was serious. It happens sometimes.

About a week and a half into my summer vacation I started panicking and thinking "What have I done?! I'm a teacher. It defines me. Who am I?" Blah, blah, blah. I was practically having a midlife crisis, except I was happy and well rested. And I was still driving a minivan so there's my reality check right there.

No corvette = no midlife crisis.

Anyway, all the while I was still applying for jobs. And applying for jobs. Lots of jobs. And had two interviews. Two.

And, because that wasn't enough to freak me out, nothing I was applying for paid more than $15 an hour.

And that's not enough.

So late one night when I couldn't sleep in my unemployed loserness, I visited our school district's website.

And there was My Job. Math Specialist. Teacher Schedule. Teacher Pay. No Teacher Stress. No Yelling Parents. Nerd Out on Math and Data While You Sit in Your Chair Not Sweating.

Sorry about all the title case, but Math Teacher. I don't have to follow those other rules.

Anyway, Dream Job. It's a pretty sweet gig. I have been learning so, so much. I've been able to help teachers. I love teachers. And do you want to know what the biggest perk is? I get to go to the bathroom whenever I want. 

Let me say that again.

I get to go to the bathroom. Whenever I want.

Maybe only teachers, nurses, and truck drivers get this, but it is a pretty big deal in my world.

So I've been dressing up a little more since I have to act more mature than I'm naturally inclined to do. And I'm looking a little more conservative than usual.

As evidenced by my manicure.

Okay, maybe not my nails, but I can just shove my hands in my pockets when I'm meeting with serious types, right?

I've got to hang on to some of what makes me Me, right?

I can't wait for Halloween nails. This weekend it's happening.

Anyway, back on topic. My job is going well. I'm loving what I'm doing, I get to see all my favorite people every day, I'm meeting new people, I'm learning tons, I'm not bringing work home with me, my weekends are mine, and I have free time. Life is good.

I'm not going to lie though, I feel a little guilty. Like I've left all my teacher friends on the battlefield. 

On the other hand, from this new perspective I'm able to focus on the good in teaching and there are parts I really miss. I knew I would. I listen to my friends tell stories at lunch and I laugh. Kids and their funny personalities have a way of brightening every day.

I don't know what the future holds for me, but today I know that I am where I need to be right now.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

How to Decrapify a Kid's Bedroom in Four Short Days

Do you ever get what you think is going to be a great idea and then it turns out to be an epic flop? It happens to me a lot. So much that I've become pretty familiar with failure. We're pretty tight.

Well, a couple weeks ago I got one of those great ideas and I came up with a chore list for my girls to completely clean out their rooms, decrapify and spring clean, all without my supervision and nagging.

We are all kinds of crazy in this house.

I decided I was going to break it down, with very specific, anal instructions that went day by day over the course of a week.

I typed up a list and taped one to each of the girls' bedroom doors. Then I snapped a picture and posted it on Instagram and Facebook. I was so proud of myself. Then the doubt set in. What if my kids laughed at me and refused to comply?

I'm sure my kids are very typical in that they groan and complain whenever I ask them to do chores. Zoe especially. She acts like I'm asking her to give up a kidney when I ask her to do something as simple as water the garden.

Well, much to my surprise my girls complied without any prompting from me. In fact, it probably helped that I was out of the house all week at teacher education classes, and I wasn't able to check in on them. They stepped up and did everything on the list each day, and most days they even got a head start on the next day's list, just so they could get it done.

Here's how it went down.

Day #1 - Bed/Books

1. Take all bedding off bed and dust with a rag.

2. Wash all bedding and make bed.

3. Clean underneath bed: remove EVERYTHING and sweep or vacuum and mop.

4. Organize under bed (plastic containers with lids are in the guest room).

5. Go through books upstairs and downstairs and make a pile to donate. I expect to see your donate pile, so do not dump it in the guest room.

I don't know about you, but in this house the guest room is the dumping grounds, so whenever anyone has something they don't want anymore and they are too lazy to do something about it (myself included) we just dump it in the guest room to worry about another day. That day is usually the day before a guest arrives for a visit, at which point the pile may or may not be dealt with, and is sometimes hidden underneath the tables in my crafting area. 

Denial is my BFF.

Day #2 - Closet-A-Palooza

1. Remove everything from the closet and vacuum or sweep and mop in closet

2. Wash shelves and walls in closet with a rag and 409

3. Make a pile of shoes and clothes that no longer fit for donating.

4. Throw away trash and set aside anything you wish to donate. I expect to see your donate pile, so do not dump it in the guest room.

5. Return things to your closet that you are keeping. Dust them off as you go, and put them away neatly.

As you can see, I'm very sensitive and mistrusting about the dumping of the crap in the guest room.

This is Zoe's closet after decrapification. I realize that it may not look like much, but I feel I should reiterate that this is Zoe's closet. She's my hoarding baby and she will keep gum wrappers because the trash can is so far away.

I am very, very proud of the work she did especially because organizing and cleaning has never been her thing.

It is such an incredibly painful process to clean out her room because we have very different standards and she thinks that I'm an OCD freak and completely unrealistic about the way her room should look.

Maybe, but I'm the boss and she has to listen to me because I'm bigger. And meaner. And her mom, dang it.

I know we clean her room at least once a year, but I don't have an explanation for this shirt that clearly has not fit her for years.

Day #3 - Dresser

1. Put everything in your hamper in the washing machine and start a load.

2. Take everything out of your dresser and place it on your neatly made bed.

3. Vacuum out dresser drawers and dust outside of dresser with furniture polish.

4. Carefully fold clothes and return those that still fit and you intend to wear to your dresser. Follow the Kon Marie Method of folding (look it up if you weren't paying attention).

5. Carefully fold clothes to donate and make a separate pile. Leave it on your bed.

6. Move clothes in the washer to the dryer and make sure all of your laundry is folded and put away.

So I've been reading that book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, and I was sort of joking about #4. Although the book has some great advice, like most self help books do, I feel like the author could have said what she needed to say with a whole lot fewer words.

And the whole idea of thanking the stuff that I'm purging for its service and the joy it has brought me just makes me roll my eyes. Ain't nobody got time for that.

If I'm going to be talking to my clothes as I kick them to the curb it's going to be a whole lot more satisfying than that mess. I might say "I never liked the way you made my butt look you sorry excuse for a pair of jeans!"

I could maybe get behind that, but still, unnecessary waste of time in my world.

Day #4 - Everything Else

1. Move all furniture and clean behind and underneath.

2. Clean all furniture with furniture polish.

3. Wipe down lower walls, baseboards, and chair rails with a rag and soapy water (use a bucket of warm water with a drop of dish soap in it). Use 409 on hard to clean spots.

4. Wipe down window casing and clean inside of window.

5. Declutter!!!! By this, I mean make a pile of things to donate and throw away things that are junk. I want to see your donate pile, so don't just dump it in the guest room.

6. Organize your stuff. Everything should have a place and everything should be in its place. Surfaces should be clear. Nothing should be on the floor if it is not a piece of furniture.

7. Ask your sister to look over your room and give you constructive, polite criticism.

Notice the guest room/crap disclaimer is there again. I'm very, very twitchy about it.

I will tell you right now that #7 is a potential mine field. I knew this when I typed it but I did it anyway because I wanted to see if they could handle it. That, and I like cheap entertainment.

However, to my surprise, again, they handled themselves beautifully and even worked together at times.

This is Zoe's room at the end of decrapification. Zoe's room never looks like this. Never. This was a big deal for her to do with zero help from me. And Hallelujah, because I loathe participating in this particular aspect of parenting my children.

And this is Stinkerbell's room. To be honest, this whole purge, clean, organize thing was just a typical day in the life of Stinkerbell. She has always been obviously my child as far as cleaning, organizing, and all things domestic go.

Except for that brief period of time in her preschool years when she curated some very disturbing collections of fingernail clippings and crumbs from each day's preschool snack hidden in her closet.

Now, I'm sure many of you are wondering how I encouraged my kids to do this without some sort of threat or motivation, so I'm going to fess up right now and tell you that I used both.

In fact, at the bottom of their lists was the following statement.

There will be a military-like inspection every day at 5:00 p.m. I expect you to be in your room and ready for inspection. If I am happy with the result, you will receive a REWARD. If I am not happy, you will receive a CONSEQUENCE. Do not disappoint me. J

I didn't think this part through very well and most days I couldn't tell you what that day's reward was going to be. The girls would ask me and I would fake them out and tell them "It's a surprise. You'll have to wait and see."

I didn't have to come up with any consequences because they met the deadline to my satisfaction every day. And thank goodness, because I could see myself raising my arms over my head threateningly and yelling "RAWR!" at them or something ridiculous like that. In reality I'm sure I could deliver, if pressed.

I don't think they should know ahead of time what the reward or consequence will be because they might decide the reward wasn't worth it or the consequence was not a big deal. Anticipation is king.

The first day the reward was the biggest because I wanted them to get excited. I took them to the book store and let each of them pick out a new book. 

The second day we took them out for ice cream after dinner.

The third day I gave each of them $5.

The fourth day I told them that I was going to take them to the museum for the Pirates exhibit they've been wanting to see. And nobody has to know that I was going to take them anyway.

I can honestly say it was worth every penny, and I will be making this a yearly project every summer.

It was such a success in my world, that we have moved onto other areas of the house. In this picture they are cleaning out our coat closet. The possibilities are endless!