Wednesday, December 29

Washing Windows--Targeting Goals

When Georgia and Neal were little I went to our pastor's house on a Saturday to help the pastor's wife wash windows. They lived on a busy city street and she had noticed the car exhaust fumes clouding up the view from their living room more and more each season, so she felt a huge desire to shine the panes.

Each of us had arranged for our husbands to watch our own kids during this quick morning clean-up job. It wasn't easy to arrange this; Phil ran his own business and often manned the carpet store on Saturdays. Her husband had the ever-looming sermon to polish by Sunday morning. Our allotted work time was of the essence.

I arrived at her home and went into the kitchen to say hi to the family. She was helping one of her kids clean up from an extended Saturday breakfast and getting him ready to be "watched" by daddy. To maximize my help to the family I started gathering the breakfast dishes and reached for the dishwashing soap and sponge to begin cleaning up a few dirty cereal bowls while I waited for her to direct our window washing.

To my surprise I heard her say, "Stop, don't do those dishes." At first I joked that I didn't mind but she said again, "No, don't start doing the dishes." With a wondering look I turned around and really paid attention to her--was she thinking I was taking over her house or was she the type of housekeeper who liked her dishes done "just so?"

Seeing my face she explained, "We're going to get started on those windows in just a minute, I don't want you to get bogged down with doing little things."

Not knowing her real well, but respecting her for what I did know, I stepped away from the sink and just waited for her to finish with her children's needs. In minutes we were outside with buckets and ladders and we worked a couple of hours shining her windows. We finished the front ones, tackled a few more on the sides, then I had to go.

Over the years I never did get close to her and our family eventually began attending another church which was nearer to our home. However, the pastor's wife lived out a truth for me that has been invaluable over all these ensuing years. Aim for and work toward accomplishing the big goal; don't get bogged down with good, but less pressing, work. The pastor's wife knew she would eventually get those breakfast dishes washed up but she only had a small "window" of opportunity to get her more pressing task accomplished. She targeted her energy, and mine, on her goal and she achieved it.

Monday, December 20

Giving away treasured heirlooms

A friend of mine passed away recently and I've been wondering how to let her family know that I'd be happy to help with giving away or at least organizing her clothes for easier storage or passing along to other family members, when they are ready to let them go.  This post from Flylady's website made me realize that giving away treasured personal items is a good thing, yet we never know when the time is right until we're "led" to do it.  I think I'll tell my friend's family that I'm here to help, and wait for them to be "led" to choose the right time.  I'll also tell myself that if they don't ever mention it to me, that's "being led," too.

Today's Moment - No More Waiting for Someday

flylady, 12/18/2010 11:00 pm
Dear FlyLady,
I recently started a "book of moments." When something positive happens that really touches me, I take 5-10 mins and write about it. Then I put my "moments" into a binder. I realized when my Mom passed away that I wish I knew more about which moments meant something to her, etc... My 10 year old DS enjoys reading mine and has even started his own book of moments. This is my moment from today.
This morning I went through the last of my Mom's clothes. There were some scarves. You know, the silky, beautiful scarves that some people wear around their neck and tie into a knot. I'm not one of those people that are comfortable wearing that look. There were only four scarves left that I hadn't already given away. The only reason I hadn't was because they were the four most beautiful scarves. I felt that "maybe someday" I would wear them someday when I'm older and in a different place in my life, when I have a reason to dress more sophisticated than I currently do, in my casual business attire that I'm so comfortable wearing. Every time I look at the scarves, I get a twinge of guilt that I am not wearing them. My mother would want them to be worn.
This morning, I decided that if the "someday" that I begin wearing scarves is not NOW, I should pass them along to someone who WILL wear them. I bagged them up and brought them to work for a co-worker who wears scarves and looks terrific in them. Her husband recently passed away and there aren't enough people in her life who do nice things for her, although she is unfaltering kind to everyone. There was one scarf that had pink and purple in it that I had a feeling she may like. She opened the bag and gasped, gushing over how beautiful the scarves were. Then the pink and purple one caught her eye. She immediately lifted it, put it on and said, "Oh! This is my new favorite scarf! I'm going to wear it today!" There was such happiness on her face as she thanked me for them.
This brought me so much joy, knowing that instead of sitting in a box, collecting dust, waiting for "someday" to come along, my mother's scarves have a new owner who will love and wear them.
Thank you, FlyLady for teaching me so much that I am able to teach my son. He gets a kick out of the fact that we are BOTH learning how to do housework, declutter, and build routines - 15 minutes at a time! You've helped me understand that material items are NOT what hold memories of loved ones.
Blessing others truly does bring pleasure and is so simple to do even on a very tight budget. Tonight my DS and I are bringing 5 spare blankets & comforters to the local homeless shelter. We are so excited to be able to help others and lighten our load as well!
I am so grateful for you and your unconditional love for Flybabies like us!
Melanie in Shokan, NY

Saturday, December 18

Magazine Mountain

What do you do when a wonderful family member loves to keep magazines, trade journals and catalogs for a long time?  Well, Flylady reminds us that we can only change ourselves and that's true.
There are some things we can do to make the situation better. 

We can keep most of our home de-cluttered, the spaces we're primarily responsible for maintaining.  We can remove any of our mess from the family member's messy area.  For example, we can keep our magazines and catalogs in another place and not add them to the "magazine" table.  Very importantly, we can resist the temptation to organize the magazine collection (such as putting all the "Time" magazines in one stack in reverse chronological order) or making snide remarks about how unattractive the area looks.

Our homes can look very peaceful, tidy and spacious if most of the home is uncluttered.  Our dear family members have preferences for how they like to keep their belongings and we really can't organize for another adult, unless they want to change their habits.  I'm sorry.

Recycle That Halloween Candy

One of my friends showed me the gingerbread house her 3 year-old son made (with a little help.)  At Halloween she told him, "Be sure to save your candy for your gingerbread house at Christmas," and he did!

Can't think of a better motivator for having kids learn self control, and a wonderful way to recycle all that sugar.

De-cluttering Children's Books

We all want to read to our kids and develop their little minds, so we buy books for them and check books out of the library and ask the grandparents for books for their birthday gifts and .....we end up with huge piles of books!  Often we know we're due to return books to the library but we just can't find them.

My friend has two children under the age of four and her children's books had taken over a corner of her family room.  She loves to read to her children and wanted to make it easier to find specific books so we worked together this morning on organizing her kids' books.  First, the goal was written down so we stayed on track:

Next, we sorted all the books by "Older Son" and "Younger Son."  At this point we didn't take the time to consider whether or not a book was worth keeping. We did put the library books in a separate pile.  My friend was so fast at sorting the books that her arm looks like lightning in the photo.

Then, we got out several paper grocery bags and labeled them by the child's name, plus today's date.  I asked my friend to go through her older son's books and put half of them into a "Read Now" pile and a "Read in 3 Months" pile.  She handed the books to me and I organized them by size in their respective groups.  After we did her older son's books we tackled the books for her younger son.  We put the "Read in 3 Months" books in her storage area and she wrote a note on her calendar to rotate the books in March.

If her older son remembers and asks for a book that is in storage, it won't be too hard to locate it.

When we were finished my friend said, "I can do this with their toys."  I smiled and agreed.

Friday, December 17

Doing the Hand Washables

Wowie zowie--no school today and at 4 PM we start Christmas vacation--yeah!
The couch in my bedroom has been accumulating hand washables, delicate clothes that need a gentle touch for washing and drying, for 6+ months.  Keeping up with regular laundry isn't a problem in our house but those dainty clothes and linens hardly ever have their turn in the laundry room.  I get a kick out of using linens from my mom or those I've found at resale shops, but they do need to be handwashed and often they are in the laundry or unironed when I want to use them.  I never even think about how much it would cost to have them cared for at the cleaners.

Today was the day to tackle the enormous task--lightweight sweaters, family linens, slinky clothes, bulky sweaters--now damp, but clean.  Here are some tips for managing hand washables when you do them en masse:
Use the gentle cycle on the washer and the maximum water volume to wash clothes which can be safely washed in a machine.  Unless your clothes are extremely fragile this will work for non-heirloom clothes.
Family linens and dainty clothes can be washed in a big basin or in your (clean) laundry sink.  Have several bath towels ready to use for rolling up your rinsed clothes and blotting the water out for 10 minutes or so.  Throw those wet towels in the dryer unless they have absorbed dye from the clothes and dry them right away.
If you don't have enough floor space to dry your sweaters on the floor, on a towel for blocking, then use the top of a bed or your ironing board.  If you are unfamiliar with blocking your sweaters to retain their shape and size, just Google the term or please write me and I'll take a video of the process.

Use over-the-door hangers to dry lightweight tops and sweaters.  Sometimes I hang the item upside down and take advantage of gravity to maintain the neck shape.  If there's a possibility of the hanger making indentations in the fabric I'll use a small towel as a buffer.

Delicate linens can be dried flat on a bed.  Put a clean sheet on top of the bed and gently flatten the linens over the sheet, taking care to block the item into its original shape.  If your handmade linens aren't exactly square when you're done don't fret, they are handmade and very unique.  I use a fan to speed up the drying process and keep my bed linens from getting too damp.

Now all that's left on my bedroom couch are some papers and those unwrapped Christmas presents.  I can say with some confidence that most of the items will be gone by the 25th...