Thursday, October 23, 2014

31 Days to Less Clutter and More Peace: Dealing with Hot Spots

Let's talk about hotspots. The surfaces in your home that ALWAYS seem to collect a bunch of papers and other random objects, no matter what you do. This will usually be a flat surface like a table or a counter--but it could be your closet floor, a couch, or the corner of your bedroom.

In my house, the living room radiators are my hottest hotspots. Everyone just sets everything down on them because they are so conveniently located. One is right next to the front door, and the other is right next to the stairway.

Ideally, I'd deal with them on a daily basis--and I do try. It often depends on my level of busyness that day, though. On the days that I work I am much less likely to clean up the radiator mess than I am on the days I don't work.

When my children are assigned the living room as their zone, cleaning off the radiators is part of that. Unfortunately, their usual M.O. is to take things off the radiators, walk into my office, and set them on the table in there. So, technically, the table in the office is the hottest hotspot in the entire house, I stand corrected.

And now you know that my children are very, very good at not actually putting anything away (remember how they stuff things in bags, too?).

So, I'm sure you can see all of my failings where my hotspots are concerned, and you don't actually need the very helpful list that I am about to write. But I need the very helpful list that I am about to write, so please indulge me.

1. Resist the urge to set things down where they do not belong.

Instead, take the extra 30 seconds to put it away. This will not only help keep your hotspots clear of stuff, but it will help you to actually find the item again when you need it.

2. Don't let the clutter build up--deal with it as soon as you can.

If things do start piling up on your hotspot area, clean it up immediately! Put the items away where they belong as soon as you notice there is a problem.

3. Make clearing the hotspot part of your daily routine.

This is basically #2, I realize. If it is a part of your regular cleaning routine to clear the hotspot, you will not need to worry about it becoming unmanageable.

A couple of other ideas:

The Maestro is a pile maker. I don't feel I can put his stuff away, because I don't usually know what is important to keep (most of the piles are papers). Early on in our marriage, I finally got him a basket to put his paper piles in. When it gets too full, it is his job to go through it and file things or throw them out or whatever. I don't touch his papers.

It's obviously getting to be time to clean it out.

And unfortunately (I am noticing that I use that word a lot regarding the state of my clutter), he has ANOTHER REALLY BIG basket in the dining room corner now. This one is there because he sort of started using the dining room as his home office, and more piles began to appear.

I want to take this basket away from him, though, and start using it for something else. And I also want him to start using the office table as his home office, since we actually have a home office, even though it's mostly mine. I think the majority of the stuff in this gigantic basket can be taken to his office on campus, anyway.

All of the other photos in this post are of my hotspots. My two living room radiators, anyway. They aren't the only hotspots in the house. And, unfortunately (there's that dang word again!), as I'm writing this they are still looking just about the same. Why? Well, because I went to work, drove children all over the world for music lessons and such, taught a class for church, and sewed Halloween costumes instead of clearing my clutter.

But I promise that I will clean it today. Especially since we are hosting a Halloween party here on Friday night! (Ack! That's tomorrow.)(FYI, I have a LOT more to get this house ready for guests than just cleaning off the radiators.)(Unfortunately.)

Today's assignment:
  • Locate your hotspots.
  • Clean them off--put everything where it goes.
  • Add the hotspots to your daily routine.

Find all of the posts in this 31 Day Challenge here: A Place for Everything: 31 Days to Less Clutter and More Peace.

Sign up to receive daily email reminders for this 31 Day Challenge here: Join Email List.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

31 Days to Less Clutter and More Peace: A Bag for Everything

Along with my shoe and hat and scarf problem, I have a big bag problem.

I can't help it. I love accessories. And I love bags.

I already got rid of a few purses when I decluttered my closet, but I hadn't yet addressed all of the BAGS hanging in my office.

I had a bag for church. Okay, so I had TWO bags for church. I used one of them while I was serving in a calling as Primary President (leader of the children's organization) and it was very full of lots of the kinds of things one would have while working with children at church.

Then I got released from that calling and instead of actually cleaning out the bag, I just abandoned it. I hung it up in my office and started using a different bag for church.

Okay, so back to my bag tally. I had two bags for church, one for work, one for the beach, one for the gym, one for vacations, and about three other empty bags. Those were just the ones hanging in my office.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

How to Raise Kids that Like Vegetables

How to Raise Kids that Like Vegetables--five strategies that will help your children to change their perceptions of vegetables and actually enjoy eating them

The other day we got two stalks of Brussels sprouts in our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm share.

First of all, I never knew that Brussels sprouts came on stalks like that! I didn't think to snap a photo before we cooked them up and ate them, but if you didn't know it either you can click HERE to see a photo (and find what looks like a yummy recipe for them). I have never received Brussels sprouts straight off the farm before, and when I purchase them at the grocery store, they are usually frozen and most definitely not on a stalk anymore.

Second of all, The Maestro roasted them with olive oil and some spices and our children LOVED them. They all gobbled them up like candy.

Score one for Mom and Dad! Our children will eat Brussels sprouts!

Our children will happily eat most vegetables, actually. It is one of the very few things I feel we have done very well as parents. And when I say very few, I mean that I can only come up with maybe one other thing.


But my kids eat vegetables without a fuss. And maybe it isn't anything The Maestro and I did as parents, either, maybe we were just blessed with children that aren't overly picky.

Except....they are picky. Sophia has big issues with textures and Bria has a long list of foods that she doesn't like. In fact, getting Bria to like eating vegetables wasn't always easy--we had lots of tantrums about it when she was younger. Chloe is picky, too, but she has always preferred vegetables and fruit over sweets. She actually did come that way. Her pickiness is more like she hates soda and prefers water instead. I don't try to quash that kind of pickiness.

I've thought about the things The Maestro and I have done that have helped our children to learn to like vegetables, and I came up with the following five things. I recognize that some children are just more difficult in the food department, so your mileage may vary, but these things have worked well at our house.

1. Be a Good Example and Eat Your Vegetables Yourself.

31 Days to Less Clutter and More Peace: How to Declutter Your Schedule

I am probably the last person who has the right to tell anyone how to declutter their schedule. I run a blog titled Overstuffed because my own schedule is bursting at the seams. This over extending of myself is something I have struggled with for a very long time.

However, at the ripe old age of 40, I am starting to be better about this. My schedule is still overstuffed, but it could be so much worse. I'm finally growing up!

That isn't to say I'm perfect at this yet. Just better. The past two weekends, for instance, I spent a lot of time helping a college student make his Halloween costume as a favor. I didn't mind helping him, but it took a huge chunk out of my life that should have been used for other things. Like maybe making my own chidren's Halloween costumes, which have only sort of been started at this point. The problem is that I said yes to him back in August, thinking it wouldn't be a big deal. I should have been a bit more forward thinking and realized that October is always crazy for me. I barely manage to get my own children's costumes put together, and there is always a lot going on with my family and work commitments.

Which brings me to the number one way to declutter your schedule...

1. Learn to say No. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Age of Opportunity: Lessons from the New Science of Adolescence

I am now the mother of a bona fide teenager. Fourteen years old, wonderful as can be, but still a teenager who struggles with all of the typical teenagery things. I am also the mother of a tween. She's almost twelve years old now, but she has already entered adolescence.

Because adolescence starts earlier than it ever did before, and it also ends later. Since I teach on the college level, I have the opportunity to work with late adolescents, and I believe that assessment to be true.

So does Laurence Steinberg, author of a new book titled Age of Opportunity: Lessons from the New Science of Adolescence. I wasn't sure quite what to expect from this book when I began reading it, but I was hooked from the start. Steinburg's writing is easy to understand and is captivating, even though he is writing much about scientific studies and findings.

I found the entire thing to be absolutely fascinating, and I learned so much about my children and what they are experiencing right now as they navigate their adolescence. I learned that their brains have a high level of plasticity during this time--that adolescent years are just as crucial in molding the brain's development as the ages of 1-3.

As a parent, that is both scary and comforting. Comforting because teenagers really are incredibly teachable during these years (despite the way they may act), and scary because it is all up to me to teach them.

According to Steinburg, one of the most important things to teach your adolescent is the ability to self-regulate. Many of us have heard of the marshmallow test and its ability to predict the future success of those children in later life. Because of those findings, we have been led to believe that self-control is something you either have or you don't--you get it via genetics and not by learning.

This is not true.

Here is an excerpt from the book regarding self-regulation:

31 Days to Less Clutter and More Peace: Junk Drawers

Junk drawers.

Probably one of the worst clutter nightmares on the face of the earth. I have found that if a drawer is not given a specific duty, it automatically grows up to be full of junk. Useful junk, maybe. But junk nonetheless.

I don't have very many drawers in my kitchen. Only six small ones and one larger one (maybe that is more than I think, I just know it doesn't feel like enough). The big one is for silverware, measuring cups, and measuring spoons. Two of the small ones are for all those kitcheny gadgets we all have. One is for aluminum foil, cling wrap, plastic baggies, toothpicks, et al. One is for towels, and one is for hot pads.

That leaves only one. And of course it is full of junk!

Let's get a closer look at all that junk, shall we?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

How I Got a SnapChat and Other Sunday Adventures

Sunday Photo 10_19_14 web

Another Sunday, here and gone.

I'm so glad I started doing these Sunday photos, even though Sundays are often just as crazy as any other day of the week.

Which is why I didn't manage to get today's photo until bedtime.

Sup #swag is courtesy Chloe, I think. All I know is that I didn't type it.

Bria made me sign up for SnapChat tonight.

Actually, she didn't even make me. She just took my phone and did it for me.

And then she sent some out in my name and opened any that came back in. I think she just wants another SnapChat to play with!

I'm guessing that Bria is pretty much the only person that I will SnapChat.

She's eternally photogenic, though. Even in a grainy SnapChat that we took in the not-very-well-lit living room.

I'm eternally sick.