Monday, April 30, 2012

Hour-a-Day April: Day 30

Today wasn't a fantastic day, but my in-laws called to see if we wanted to go to the park after they got off school, so we did. They gave me about a half an hour warning, which gave me enough time to clean out months of clutter build-up in the car. I didn't get the car completely clean, but I did clear it out enough to make room for two extra passengers, and that's something!

Daily Total: 30 minutes
Monthly Total: 30 hours 10 minutes

Flower Girl

I got married in 2001. I had three flower girls, because three of Jeremy's cousins were the perfect age, and all equally adorable. Who could choose?

Earlier this year, Jeremy's aunt gave me back one of the flower girl dresses, because she thought it was just about the right size for Valerie, now. It still looked brand-new. I hung it in the closet, wondering what special occasion might merit such a special dress.

Then Jeremy's cousin's fiancée asked me if Valerie would be in their wedding. "She can wear whatever she wants, it's up to you." I ran home, and tried the flower girl dress on her. It fit! It was a teensy bit too big, but by the time the wedding day rolled around, she had grown just enough. You would have thought I had bought it for her!

Note to brides: If you want an unofficial second shooter for your wedding, let your flower girl wear her mother's flower girl's dress.

I was going to write a whole post about all of the emotions that I felt watching my daughter wear that dress. Watching her spin around so the dress would flare out. Watching her oh so carefully place the petals on the path for the bride. But I can't seem to get it right. So here are a bunch of pictures, instead.














Hour-a-Day April: Days 23-29

Sorry for my absence. After the whirlwind wedding weekend, we all caught a cold, our sleep issues got even worse (I hardly thought it was possible!) and I just couldn't handle one more thing. So I slipped back into survival mode, and told myself not to think about HADA for a while, until I started getting a handle on the basic stuff again, like getting dressed in the morning and eating lunch.

Day 23: Jeremy stayed home from work, and we pretty much just took turns napping all day. I ordered enough pizza for lunch that I wouldn't need to make dinner.

Daily Total: 0

Day 24: I tried a new idea on for size. Rather than aiming for an hour (which was extremely daunting on little-to-no sleep), I decided to try to do 10-12 of those "quickie" projects that only take a couple of minutes, but I never get around to. I figured each one could count as five minutes, even if they didn't take that long, because sometimes it's harder to find motivation for the little things. Here's what I managed to do before the day went completely to pot:
-Cleaned the top of the fire extinguisher, which had an impressive layer of dust. (In fact, I can't remember ever cleaning it, and we've lived here 4 years!)
-Cleaned up a mystery spot on the wall that has been there for ages.
-Pinned the chrysalides into the butterfly tent.
-Put a new battery in the wall clock (and set it to the correct time!)
-Got out the water-based face paints and let Valerie do some face painting

I feel like there were 2 or 3 more things like that, but it's been a week, and I don't remember the rest. When Jer got home, I went down to the storage unit to dig out the crib, and I set it back up in a sidecar arrangement beside our bed. Having Dorothy in her own bed and having a big open space in my bedroom was nice, but getting sleep is even nicer. (Things have been getting steadily better again since I brought back the sidecar crib, so I'm glad I did.) Anyhow, that took about an hour, so even if I didn't do my 10-12 little things, I got my hour.

Daily Total: 1 hour

Day 25: The funny thing about sleep is that, once you're sleep deprived, getting more sleep doesn't solve the problem right away. It seems to just make it worse for a while. This day is pretty much a blur. It wasn't a total loss, though. We made rainbow rice and retired the water beads from the sensory bin.I managed to wash a load of diapers in here somewhere. I think we went to Baja Fresh for dinner.

Daily Total: 0

Day 26: No delusions this day. We packed it all in and went to a friend's house. Time well-spent. I think that saved my last shred of sanity. Hmm.... Maybe I'll even count it for HADA. Going to a friend's house isn't an unusual event, it's actually something I make time for fairly regularly, but getting us all dressed and out the door to go to a friend's house when I am barely dragging myself through the day is a pretty big deal.

Daily Total: 1 hour

Day 27: This is the only day this week I accomplished much, because (you guessed it!) I had guests coming over. I managed to knock out most of the dirty dishes (still not caught up, yet, though, ugh), and clean all the floors on the main level of the house. I rearranged the living/dining room area, because there was a possibility of 12 people coming over to watch a movie, and fitting 12 people in my house facing one direction takes some creative rearranging. (It actually only ended up being 4.) I also baked some bread, cleaned some mirrors, took out the trash and recyclables, and cleaned off the junk-collecting right-by-the-door windowsill. (Although I cheated and just moved most of the stuff up to my room.) All told, I think I spent 5 or 6 hours getting stuff done today, but, since it was mostly catch-up on the daily stuff I should have done anyhow, I'm only counting an hour for HADA.

Daily Total: 1 hour

Day 28: We took the girls to a birthday party for their cousins at Bounce U, which was fun and busy and tiring. Then we went to the mall together to get Daddy's glasses adjusted, and to buy some books for birthday presents. Instead of one adult staying with the kids, and the other one making a quick stop at the mall, we made it a family outing. Valerie helped me choose the books, and she really liked being a part of things. So, I'm counting the inefficient-but-quality-time trip to the mall for HADA, even though the rest of the day was a wash productivity-wise.

Daily Total: 1 hour

Day 29: Church, after-church coffee hour, quick stop at home to grab presents, then off to Nana and PopPop's house for a family birthday party. Then we stuck around until well after bedtime playing cards and stuff. I was going to go home and clean for an hour, but I decided to play cards instead. Since we were literally out of the house from wake-up until bedtime, there wasn't much time for productivity, but what the heck, I'm counting that card game. When's the last time I took the time to play cards?

Daily Total: 1 hour
Monthly Total: 29 hours and 40 minutes

Monday, April 23, 2012

Hour-a-Day April: Days 20, 21, & 22

I think Dorothy must read my blog, because the very night after I wrote my last blog post about our sleep issues, she slept for 11 hours, waking only once to nurse. A world record!

Day 20: I woke up on Friday well-rested and eager to tackle a bazillion HADA projects. I dug out a racquetball racket, and went on a carpenter bee murdering spree, in an effort to reclaim our backyard (yes: I am aware that just killing them doesn't solve the problem long-term, and yes: I am aware that they are important pollinators, but my kids are terrified to play outside, and something had to give).

Then we started our container garden. I was going to start from seeds (I've been saving my toilet paper rolls for months!), but I finally caved and just bought four tomato plants for a dollar each from the corner produce place. I used the free dirt from the township to fill the containers most of the way, then we topped it off with some proper potting soil. I kinda have no idea what I'm doing, but we'll water them and hope for the best. I'd like to compost, but we have a very small backyard, and I'm not sure I'm up for adding another stinky thing to our lives. If anyone knows of a super-simple composting method that involves very little space, very little money, and very little effort, I'd love to hear it!

Then we went up to the girls' room and, with Valerie's help, pulled all the toys out from under the beds, as a first step towards sorting them and putting them away in the right places. We had been doing pretty good about keeping the room tidy ever since we built the bunk beds in March, until we started tackling the sleep issue. Then, whenever I went to put Valerie to bed, I would go, "Oh, crap, we forgot to put away the toys," and shove them all under the bed so I would have a clear path to the bed for Dorothy's bedtime. I didn't take a picture of the toys all pulled out, but here is a photo from March, as motivation to get things back in order:


My plan was to tackle the bedroom after I got Dorothy down for her nap, but at some point between pulling everything out and finding time to put it away, I got something in my eye. That might sound trivial, but it was awful. I tried every "getting things out of your eye" trick in the book, and nothing worked. I was in pain, and it just kept getting worse. We trudged through the rest of the day without getting a single thing done, and when Jer got home, I sent him and the girls to his parents' house so I could take a nap. A nap was the last thing I could think of for getting whatever was in my eye out - sometimes your eye can work it out if you just rest and leave it alone. I slept for two hours, woke up with my eye glued shut, and still hurting. I sent Jer to the drug store to get some eye wash, and I finally managed to get whatever it was out before bed. Then I slept like a log. And so did Dorothy, actually. She gave me an unprecedented 9-hour stretch that night. So, that was awesome, anyhow.

Daily Total: about 40 minutes, if you count the "pulling out toys" project that really just made things worse

Day 21: I woke up with my eye feeling a bit better. No foreign particles anymore, but it was really raw and sore - kinda like I'd been crying for hours. We took the kids over to the in-laws' house for a bit, to visit with Uncle Mark, who had just returned from Africa. Then we came home for Dorothy's nap and Valerie's quiet time. I used this time to get things together and shave and do my hair for the wedding.

Then I got two kids all dolled up and we trundled off to the wedding, where Valerie did a fantastic job as Flower Girl, and both my girls kept the dance floor hopping, and everyone had a great time. (No photos yet - I'm working on it.) We all tumbled into bed, exhausted. (Except for me; I couldn't fall asleep for 2 hours for some reason. Grrr.) Dorothy didn't offer a repeat sleeping-through-the-night performance, but I'm not surprised, with all the upheaval.

Daily Total: I guess I can claim an hour, here. I didn't get any productive projects done, but I did wrangle my whole family to a wedding - that's not something I do every day. And, considering how often I shave, that really should count, too. It still feels like cheating, but oh well. I need all the help I can get, right now.

Day 22: Sunday - day of rest. I was feeling so behind on my housework and whatnot, that I must admit, I had every intention of breaking the sabbath and cleaning the house. But we were all so worn out from the wedding, we took it easy instead. I spent an hour or so uploading pictures to Flickr, and I am so, so close to caught up, but I still have the wedding to upload. At least I made it through Easter! I think I need to take fewer pictures.


Daily Total: 1 hour
Monthly Total: 24 hours and 40 minutes

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hour-a-Day April Day Nineteen

Well, as expected, I didn't get a whole lot done today. But I survived, and that's the important part, right?

We went over to my in-laws' house for lunch, because my husband's grandparents are visiting on their way north from Florida, and they don't get to see the kids very often. We had a nice visit for a few hours, which kept Dorothy awake until her old nap time, then she fell asleep in the car on the way home and actually napped all the way through Valerie's quiet time. Simultaneous nap + quiet time = The only way Mama ever gets a nap. So, I got a nap. Score!

I did a few little things here and there throughout the day. I found my seam-ripper, and removed the itchy tag from Dorothy's Easter dress (it was much faster with the seam ripper than with the scissors I had used for Valerie's dress!). Then I washed the Easter dresses, so Dorothy can wear hers for the wedding on Saturday. I washed the dishes in the sink before bed (not all the dishes, but at least the sink is clear again!), strained the kefir, and washed the strainer and funnel so they're ready to go next time. I've also been trying to be deliberate about little things that will make my life easier later, like putting dirty clothes directly in the hamper when the girls get in the tub, and rinsing poopy diapers before putting them in the laundry pail. And I've been writing my HADA updates the next morning rather than staying up late, so I can squeeze in as much evening sleep as possible.

But the biggest thing today was the shopping trip. I didn't feel like going, and neither did Jer, but there was nothing in the house for dinner, so we compromised and headed to Giant as a family. We ate in the little café for dinner, then I started shopping with Dorothy while Pokey the Slow-Eater finished her dinner with Daddy. I had been making a list for the past few days of all the random things I have been wanting to get for a while that weren't exactly urgent. I got everything on the list except for two things they didn't have at Giant. It felt good to finally cross all those random things off the shopping list. (Some of them had been there for months, like a 3-way-bulb for a lamp in our room and some wide-mouth mason quart jars.)

Daily Total: 1 hour (I didn't set a timer or anything, but I know our shopping trip took at least an hour, so I'll take my hour)
Monthly Total: 22 hours

Hour-a-Day April: Days 17 and 18 and a Lack of Sleep

Dorothy popped out of the womb sleeping for five hour stretches. It was surreal and amazing.

When she was a little baby, I could put her down "drowsy but awake" and she would just go to sleep on her own. When Valerie was a baby, I remember thinking that this was a ridiculous myth propagated by baby book authors. But nope, it worked with Dorothy. I could hardly believe it.

And then, like the proverbial frog in a pot of cold water, I got complacent. I don't know what went wrong, but it happened so gradually that I didn't notice. And then one day, I realized that I wasn't getting enough sleep to function anymore. I was grumpy, and I had a short temper, and I realized that, one by one, every one of my sleep tricks had stopped working. I had one trick left up my sleeve: When she was tired, I could put her on my back, in the Ergo or the mei tai, and she would go to sleep, then I could slip her quietly off my back and transfer her to the bed. Then, about a month ago, she started biting my back whenever I tried to do this, and, just like that, my last sleep tool was gone, and I realized that I had nothing left.

I hate talking about sleep. In fact, I blogged here not too long ago about how I think people should butt out and stop asking new moms about sleep. But here's the thing: It had become a major problem for us. My 17-month-old was sleeping worse than a newborn. And I simply couldn't function like that anymore.

We started doing some sleep training. Not cry-it-out, but something in between. When we sleep trained Valerie using this method, she had one rough night, then a few okay nights, then she was sleeping for 12-hour stretches within a week. Dorothy has not been such an easy sell on sleep. Things looked like they were working well at first, then, she seemed to get caught up enough on sleep to become a fighter again, and the nights got worse again. We have an occasional good night, and I'll get optimistic for a day, then the next night, she will be up every hour again. I don't know how she does it, but I certainly can't live on that little sleep.

Anyhow, I never wanted to come on here and talk about our sleep struggles, but this is directly relevant to my lack of daily HADA success this year: I am so insanely tired that I can barely trudge through the daily stuff, let alone the "bonus" stuff. Yesterday was bad. Today isn't looking good either. I went to bed at 8:30, and I got to sleep from 9-12, then I didn't get more than a 45-60 minute stretch for the rest of the night. I think it's going to be another "survival mode" day.

Just to clarify: I am not looking for sleep advice. I am drowning in sleep advice. I can almost guarantee that any attempts to give me sleep advice will just make me more frustrated than I already am. I am simply explaining why I kinda suck at HADA this year.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Hour-a-Day April: Day Sixteen

Today I had external motivation. I was hosting a La Leche League meeting this evening, which meant, bare minimum, having a tidy living room floor (for babies to crawl on) and a clear dining room table (for snacks). But really, in my head, it means a lot more than that, because people I have never met before will be seeing the inside of my house. My friends are used to the general state of chaos that reigns in my house, but strangers are another story.

The day didn't start well. A rogue alarm clock, hidden somewhere amongst the toys in the girls' room, woke Valerie up earlier than usual, so she was a bit grumpy. Because of her waking up early, my morning routine of snuggling on the couch with Dorothy (who wakes up first) and watching a show was thrown off. I tried to get going on the house right out of the gate, but Dorothy is a creature of habit, and missing our morning show snuggle made her super clingy. By 10:30, I hadn't made a lick of progress, and I was starting to worry, because the morning is usually my most productive part of the day. I sent a text to a friend to see if she could come over and keep the kids out of my hair for an hour, and she said she would. Yay!

Things got better from there. Dorothy went down for her nap at 11, which is earlier than usual, and gave me a head start on the "making things worse before they get better" part of cleaning that is so hard to do with a toddler underfoot. I shoveled everything out of the kitchen (aside: in case you are not a reader of my Crappy Housewife blog, yes, I do actually use a snow shovel - best housekeeping tool I own), and started on the long overdue project of mopping the floors. My friend has a 2.5 year old, so I mopped in small sections, and dried as I went, to make sure he wouldn't fall on his butt as soon as he walked in the door. It makes mopping take a little longer, but if you have kids around, I highly recommend drying the floors after you mop them. It cuts down on the slips and falls, and it also prevents dirty footprints. Valerie even helped with this part of the cleaning - I gave her a sponge and a scraper, and she tackled the globby bits that the mop can't get as easily. Then she wiped the window markers off the sliding doors for me, too. I love that she is finally old enough to occasionally "help" in a way that actually helps!

Rachel showed up at about 11:30, and Valerie and Asher started playing happily together right away. So, with the kids otherwise occupied, Rachel and I tackled the kitchen together. While I finished mopping, she washed dishes. Then I started on the bathroom - one of my most-dreaded projects, but when company is coming, inevitably, someone will use the bathroom. Darned human beings and their biological needs. I did a good job, too - I even washed the walls and the outside of the toilet.

After Rachel left, I took Valerie to her room for quiet time. I brought out a "new" toy from the back of the closet, and spent a few minutes assembling it with her, then I went downstairs to spend a few minutes of down time with Dorothy. I removed an itchy tag from one of the girls' dresses (the careful, seam-ripping way), something I had promised I would do on Easter. I have a whole box of this sort of fairly quick "fixing" projects (sew up a hole, replace the batteries, glue on a broken piece, etc.). I'd like to start trying to get some of them out of the way this month.

After a bit of down time, I tackled the dining room. I shoveled everything into the living room (which was already knee-deep in junk from the kitchen), scrubbed the table (including in the crack!), wiped down the chairs, and vacuumed up all the dried out food on the ground.

When Jer got home from work, I sent him and the girls to the store so I could finish with the dining room. He picked up some dinnery things for dinner and some snacky things for the meeting. Then he had to go to an eye doctor appointment. Terrible timing! I was counting on that last hour with adult supervision to clear out the living room, which was still piled high with the clutter from all the other rooms. This part of cleaning up usually only takes me about half an hour (I kinda like to leave it for last for precisely this reason - it's nice to go out with a bang), but Dorothy was bound and determined to undo everything I did. After half an hour, I had barely made a dent in the living room, and she had emptied the recycle bin and the pots and pans cupboard to boot. I'm not exactly sure how I managed it, but somehow, I managed to get the clutter picked up, the floor vacuumed, and the chairs set up for the meeting before the first guest arrived (at the same time that Jeremy returned from his appointment). I didn't get around to the rest of the dishes, and the kitchen counters were still pretty gross, and I was still wearing my not-exactly-appropriate-for-going-out-in-public cleaning attire, but I was pretty pleased. I managed to finish all of the must-do's, most of the should-do's, and even a bunch of the nice-to-do's. Not bad.

I let Dorothy stay up for the meeting, because she is still very dependent on me for her bedtime routine, but fortunately, she went down pretty easily, even after the overly stimulating evening and delayed bedtime. After she went to bed, I did something I almost never do: I cleaned up after the meeting instead of declaring myself too tired and leaving it all until morning. I chopped up the leftover fruit into two fruit salads (one for us, and one for Jer), put away all the food, threw out the trash, and wiped down the table. I put all the chairs back, and tidied up all the toys. After working so hard all day, I wanted to actually have a clean living room to show for it!

Other things I managed to squeeze in today, that I don't exactly remember how they fit into the timeline:
-washed and dried another load of laundry
-washed the glider cushions and hung them outside to dry
-put away most of the clean, folded laundry that has been sitting in my room in growing piles all week
-put some bac-out on the pee-scented hamper bottom

All told, I think I put in about seven hours today, plus the two hours that Rachel put in helping me. A lot of that was catch-up on daily maintenance tasks, but I tried to be deliberate about doing things thoroughly, rather than just shoving things to the side so the house would look nice enough for guests. I only brought a few things up to my room "to deal with later"; most things got put away properly. The growing pile of "stuff that gets dumped here after people walk in the door" behind the dining room table has been completely relocated, and Jeremy finally took the pile of "take to the basement" things to the basement, which means that the recliner can actually recline again. I still have some work to do on the kitchen counters, but having a clean floor makes that job seem less intimidating for some reason.

Daily Total: 7 hours (I'm not selling my hours short today - I earned those extra hours!)
Monthly Total: 21 hours

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Hour-a-Day April: Day Fifteen

Today was Sunday, and on Sundays I limit myself to deliberately restful HADA projects. The weather was beautiful, and Anna (one of the older girls in church) asked me if she could play with Valerie, so we went to the park. I left Jeremy at home with Dorothy, and the girls kept each other occupied so I could just sit and chat with Heidi (Anna's mom), something I don't get to do often enough. We stayed at the park for over two hours, and the girls did everything from swinging on the swings to wading in the creek. It was a fantastic day.

Daily Total: 1 hour (I don't count more than an hour when it's a "fun" HADA project, because the hard part is making the time, not spending the time once I get going)
Monthly Total: 14 hours

Hour-a-Day April: Day Fourteen

Okay, I'm counting yesterday's hour, because I pretty much took today off.

I started the morning well. I folded some laundry, washed a couple dishes, did a bit of sorting, and I purged my underwear drawer of the smalls. There were 44 pairs (I used to stockpile underwear when we had to use the laundromat, so that I could go a month between laundry days). That sure cleared up a lot of space in my drawer!

Aside, unrelated to HADA: I've been wearing smalls since, well, since I started wearing adult sizes. Middle school, probably? I wore smalls through high school, college, law school, that year I took off of law school to get married when I gained 30 pounds, through two pregnancies and two births. And then my mom bought me a pack of mediums this year, and I got offended. Mediums? No way! I wear smalls! I've worn smalls for 20 years! Then I tried them on, and it was like a light went on. Oh! This is what it feels like when underwear fits properly! Whoa! The smalls have been sitting in my drawer ever since then, but I would always grab the mediums first. If I ran out of mediums, I would run a load of laundry, maybe wearing smalls for a day or two if I had to, but hating them when I did, and wondering why on earth it took me so long to figure out that, maybe, just maybe, now that I was wearing larger pants, I might want to actually wear larger underwear, too. I finally bought another pack of mediums, thus relegating the smalls to only the most desperate of laundry occasions. I would spend several minutes digging through the massive pile of smalls, trying to find one medium that might be hiding underneath, or at least one of the more stretched-out smalls. I've been putting off dealing with them, because I know used underwear isn't something you can really donate to Goodwill, so taking them out of my drawer meant throwing them away, and I hate to throw away useable items, even if I can't use them myself. (I know, that's a Hoarder thing. I'm working on it.) Anyhow, long story short, I finally purged them from my drawer. They are sitting in a bag in my "get rid of box", just in case someone happens to say, "Hey, I need 44 pairs of size small underwear, and I don't care if they are used!" But I'll get sick of looking at the bag eventually, and I will throw it out by the end of the month.

So, apparently, this post is 90% about underwear. I could have made it a lot more interesting by talking about how, after my initial HADA stint in the morning, we took the girls to Wentz Farmstead to watch the sheep shearing and play with colonial toys. Or I could talk about how, after such a fun day, both girls turned up their brattiness dials to 11 for the evening, and just getting through dinner and bedtime took every last ounce of motivation out of me. But nope, you get underwear.

Daily Total: Day off (about half an hour I could theoretically use later if need be)
Monthly Total: 13 hours

Friday, April 13, 2012

Hour-a-Day April: Day Thirteen

Today was going to be my day off for HADA, but I ended up spending over an hour uploading and sorting pictures to Flickr. I never realized before how much of a time-suck my photography hobby is! And I only did a tiny amount of editing, too (cropped about 8 photos). But I'm getting closer to the end. I still have Easter and a zoo trip to sort through, and then I'll be caught up! Hopefully in time for the wedding next weekend where Valerie is going to be a flower girl. I'm pretty sure I'll want to upload those photos the minute we get home!

I haven't decided yet if I am going to count today's photo project towards HADA. The closer I get to caught up, the more likely it is that I would have gotten around to it anyhow, without an external push. I guess it will depend on whether or not I decide to take tomorrow or Sunday as my day off instead. I also got some dishes done (right after using them!) and made some more progress on the laundry, but that's all normal daily stuff. It just feels like a special project because I didn't feel like doing *anything* today!

Daily Total: 1 hour
Monthly Total: 13 hours

A note on the Total Hours tallies: They don't really matter. I only started doing it as a way of keeping track of whether or not I met my daily goals, and because I think it's nice to look back and say, wow, I managed to do 25 hours of productive work this month! But it's not about aiming for a high score. The reason it's only one hour a day is because one hour is a manageable chunk of time to squeeze in *every* day. My personality is more the "neglect everything for a while, then go on a cleaning spree for 10 hours and burn myself out, then do nothing again for a while" style. I'm trying to fight that, by tackling projects daily, in small doses. Next year, I may replace my Daily Total / Monthly Total with a more binary system, because it's all about the "daily" effort, not about the totals.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hour-a-Day April: Day Twelve

We went to the zoo today. We have a membership, and we actually go fairly often, so the actual "going to the zoo" won't be counting for HADA. However, zoo days are typically "nothing else gets done" days, so, the way I see it, anything that got accomplished today other than going to the zoo is a bonus, and therefore HADA-worthy.

Before going to the zoo this morning, I washed a few more of the big dishes, and actually managed to take a shower. I ran another load of laundry, and the dirty clothes hamper is now officially empty. I also started working on sorting through my March photos to upload. Then I packed us a lunch so we wouldn't have to buy overpriced zoo food.

I took a ton of pictures at the zoo (as I often do), and I actually downloaded all of them right after getting home, AND hooked up the external hard drive to back them up. It often takes me weeks before I get around to that. It's such a simple thing, it only takes a minute, but I usually just put it off. I'm trying to be deliberate about things that don't take very long for HADA, too. Like making the beds in the morning. It only takes a minute, and it sure is nice to a) have a nice flat space for sorting things and folding laundry and b) get into a made bed at night. I've also been taking a few minutes to tidy up the girls room every evening (usually with the girls' help). I think a tidy space makes bedtime go more smoothly, and it means I don't end up stepping on any toys when Dorothy wakes up at 2 am.

I didn't keep explicit track of things today, but I know I clocked at least an hour in there. Considering we weren't home for most of the day, I'm pretty happy with that.

Daily Total: 1 hour
Monthly Total: 12 hours

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hour-a-Day April: Day Eleven

I finally tricked myself into doing some of the kitchen today. I told myself I would just wash a few dishes, just enough to get the sink clear. Ten minutes, then I could stop. I did twenty. Then, I had some momentum, so I went back later, and did twenty more. Then twenty more. I have actually reclaimed one entire counter and the dining room table. Huzzah!

I also did some laundry catch-up. I would normally just count laundry towards regular daily upkeep, but I threw in two extra loads today in a deliberate attempt to get a bit of extra done, so I'm counting it. I also soaked a shirt and some tights with stains that have been waiting to be treated for a while. It's mostly folded and sorted, but I won't be able to put it away until tomorrow, because people are sleeping in all the rooms with closets.

I did a very small amount of bedroom sorting - mostly just moving things to better-fitting boxes. All in all, it was a relatively productive day, even if I don't have any dramatic pictures to prove it. It was probably the Batman shirt I was wearing (which, by the way, is so effective, I bought a second one).

Daily Total: About 1 hour and 45 minutes
Monthly Total: 11 hours

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hour-a-Day April: Day Ten

I finally found a bit of motivation again today! I credit it to the fact that I said, "Screw the dishes, I want to work on my bedroom." Yeah, the dishes should probably be a priority, but I keep telling myself I have to do them first, then doing nothing, so I figured I would stop lying to myself about the dishes and at least do *something*.

I think I have figured out what I want to do with our bedroom. It's going to be a long, slow process, but at least I set the groundwork today.

A few years ago, we lived with some friends, and we had a wall of bookshelves in the dining room. When we moved here, we didn't really have anywhere to put the bookshelves, so we left them with our friends. Then our friends moved across the country, and left the bookshelves behind, so I reclaimed them.

I put them against the back wall in our bedroom, then moved the regular furniture (dressers and desks) back in front of them. My plan was to use them as longterm storage - things like Christmas ornaments that I only need to access once a year. I'm willing to move a dresser to get at Christmas ornaments once a year; you have to be creative when you live in a 2 bedroom apartment with limited storage space. I honestly never really used those bottom shelves, though, because lazy always won out over organized.

Then I remembered my joke about throwing a blanket over the boxes to make a computer "room" in the back of our bedroom, and I thought about my doubly-furnished bedroom wall. Maybe I could solve both problems at once!

I had to move a bunch of things around, and honestly, other than moving things from Spot A to Temporary Spot B to Semi-Permanent Spot C, I didn't get much sorting/organizing done. I did put my clean clothes in my drawers, and I relegated a few boxes of electronic stuff to the computer "room". I added a couple things to the "get rid of" pile, threw out a broken mobile, unpacked a box of hand-me-downs for Valerie, and consolidated some miscellaneous diapers we don't use to give away. I kept getting interrupted, so I'm not sure exactly how long I spent, but it was at least 1 hour and 15 minutes. I'm really excited about our new computer "room"!

2012-04-10 19.54.01

I may make the computer "room" a little bit bigger once I get the rest of the room assembled as I'd like, but for now, it's a functional, kid-free space for all the computers and miscellaneous electronics to reside. Yay!

HADA Codicil

Inspired by some of the awesome ladies over on our Hour-a-Day April Facebook Group, I'm adding an extra rule for HADA 2012:

  • Don't let anyone or anything steal your joy and sense of accomplishment for the things you have done. HADA isn't about becoming perfect, it's about deliberately spending an hour every day tackling the projects you rarely get to. If you did your hour today, YOU WIN. Period. It doesn't matter if someone else did two hours, or if the sink is still full of dirty dishes, or if there are still 17 more hours of organizing to do. If you managed to squeeze a whole extra hour of blood from the stone of your already-busy day, be proud of yourself.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Hour-a-Day April: Day Nine

I hate Mondays.

I didn't get much done today. But I did do two things that fit the HADA criteria:

1. Dorothy went down for her nap early, so Valerie and I had a tea party for lunch. I try to make a conscious effort to give her one-on-one time every day, but I must confess, it doesn't happen enough. It's rough being a big sister when your little sister is old enough to want to play, but not old enough to play properly. After our tea party, Dorothy woke up, and I instantly wished that I had used that time to take a nap myself instead. (The only way I ever get a nap is if I put Valerie in her room for quiet time right after Dorothy goes down for a nap. It's a balancing act, but I can swing it occasionally.) But then I remembered the look on her face when I told her to go upstairs and put on some dress-up clothes so we could have a tea party, and it makes up for it. Time well-spent.
(about 30 minutes)

2. I uploaded the rest of my February pictures to Flickr. I hate how long this process takes. It would only take a few minutes if I would just upload all of my pictures, but I am too critical, and I have to sort through and cull them before putting them on public display. Once I am caught up, I usually do pretty well at updating regularly, but when I am behind, the size of the project is daunting, and I don't do it at all. I'm inching my way toward the gazillion pictures we took at Easter, at least!
(about 30 minutes)

The day was pretty much downhill from there. I tried to get moving, but I just got more and more tired. I think I must be fighting an illness or allergies or something, because by the time Jeremy got home from work, all I could do was hand off the baby and go to bed. Then I slept for 3 hours while he took the kids to his parents' house for dinner. I got up to eat something, but I'm planning on going back to bed pretty soon. Just feeling pretty bleh overall. I hope I'm feeling better tomorrow!

Daily Total: 1 hour
Monthly Total: 8 hours

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Hour-a-Day April: Day Eight

Well, today was Easter, which meant we spent the whole morning at church and the whole afternoon at Nana and PopPop's house. But that worked out fine, because I have decided that Sundays in April will not be my days "off" for HADA, but that whatever I choose to do on Sundays should deliberately be restful. That way, I get to keep a sabbath AND be lazy one other day. Win!

Today, I started a crochet project that I've been thinking about for a while. I spent several hours working on it, but I was usually doing something else at the time, too - it's not like I sat and just crocheted. It's too soon to tell if it's actually going to work or not (it's a bit of an experiment), but it's something I wanted to try, so there you go.

Then before bed, I decided to upload a few more pictures to Flickr. It took me until the end of March to finally upload my December photos, and I would really like to be caught up before the whirlwind of summer activities starts up. I managed to dig through January and half of February (this took me about 40 minutes). I still have a ways to go, but I'm getting closer!

Daily Total: 1 hour (okay, it was more than an hour, but I only like to claim more than an hour when I'm being super-productive)
Monthly Total: 7 hours

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Hour-a-Day April: Day Seven

Bleh. Today was one of those days where I just couldn't get going. And then, when I did, it just seemed like I wasn't making any progress, which was disheartening, and made me lose what little momentum I had. Then I had some dumb little things come up, like my phone running out of memory, and having to upload all my photos and videos to my computer and figure out how to delete them from my phone. I got a bunch of dishes done, but there were so many to begin with, it barely looks like I made a dent. We went to the grandparents' house to dye eggs for a few hours, which was a fun diversion, but it didn't get the kitchen cleaned. Also, we lost the remote for the Roku (which is pretty much the only television we watch), and spent goodness knows how much time looking for it. (We still haven't found it. I finally downloaded an app for my phone to use it as a remote, but every time I try to sit and watch TV, it bugs me too much, so I get up and start looking for the actual remote again.)

I'm trying not to be too hard on myself, but I keep seeing other peoples' progress on HADA, and feeling like a bit of a failure. But one of my rules is "Don't give up. Missed a day? Just brush it off and get back on the proverbial horse the next day." Gotta remember that. It's still only the seventh, I can still get in a lot of productivity this month. You know, when it's not Passoveaster.

Okay, just so I don't feel like a total failure, here's what I did accomplish today:
-one dishwasher load of dishes, loaded, washed, and put away
-several big pots and both crock pots washed, dried, and put away
-solved the memory problem on my phone
-tidied up and vacuumed the whole living room (I was hoping this would turn up the remote - it did not)
-made a dessert to take to the egg-dying party
-tidied up the girls' room while Valerie was in the bath
-took out the trash (kitchen and upstairs bathroom) and recyclables (paper and co-mingled)
-made a list of all the words Dorothy can say (I've been promising my mom I would do this for weeks)
-did not find the Roku remote, but did download an app to use my phone as a remote, which I have been thinking about doing for a while
-made dinner

Daily Total: Way over an hour total, but it doesn't feel like an hour's worth of proper HADA projects. I mean, mostly, it's day-to-day upkeep stuff that I may not actually do every day, but I should do every day, and usually get to eventually. I think I'll call it half an hour.
Monthly Total: 6 hours

Friday, April 06, 2012

Hour-a-Day April: Day Six

I was pleasantly surprised today that my husband had the day off work. I had all kinds of great plans for being productive today, but they were trumped by the romantic notion of a family errand day. We had lunch at Target, bought tights for Easter, went to a hair salon, got 50% of our hairs cut, then went to Payless and bought 8 pairs of shoes (4 for Easter and 4 for a wedding). I took a long, well-earned nap, after the insanity of the past two days. I did get the dining room table cleared completely for dinner, but I didn't even start on the dishes. A tiny dent is better than no dent at all, though, right?

I could do the dishes now, but I need a sweater for Easter, and I would rather go to a 24 hour store tonight than brave Saturday-Before-Easter crowds tomorrow.

So, I'm calling today my day off. There were probably a few minutes here and there of deliberate productivity, but not enough to call it a HADA project. I'd rather just call it a day off, go to bed less guilt-laden, and tackle the kitchen tomorrow.

Hour-a-Day April: Day Five

Day Two of Passover Prep. I made 10 quarts of matzah ball soup, 6 quarts of tzimmes, 10 pounds of charoset, and 3 whole chickens worth of dried fruit and kalamata chicken (in addition to the six-pound brisket and the dessert I had pre-made the day before). Set the tables, gathered all the elements, then led the seder with my husband (while my awesome in-laws wrangled the kids for us). Then we brought home an insane amount of leftovers, for which I had to find storage containers and fridge space. I finally went to bed, bone tired, at 11:30. I'm pretty sure I logged at least an hour in there somewhere. ;)

Teaser for Day Six: After all that cooking, I don't think there is a single clean dish left in my kitchen. I have some serious clean-up to do!

If you're participating in HADA, let me know! I started a Facebook group, and reading about everyone else's progress has been really inspirational. You've seen pictures of my bedroom. If I can do this, you can too!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Hour-a-Day April: Day Four

I am currently in the middle of preparing a Passover meal to serve to 24 people tomorrow night. Every year, I seem to add two more things to the things I make for Passover, and this year, I think I officially took on too many things. So, my HADA for today and tomorrow is pretty much all wrapped up in Passover prep. Today, I hammered out my menu and my to-do list, did my massive shopping trip, cooked the brisket, cut up the chicken, made the broth, made the matzah turtle bark, and, just for fun, wrote an English version of Mah Nishtanah. I also did a load of laundry, put away a load of dishes, and ran another load of dishes. Oh, and I can't forget the forced fridge cleaning brought about by all the Passover food that needs fridge space. All told, I probably spent 8 hours or more being productive today, not including my normal day-to-day parenting of two children. But I won't be greedy, I'll just take my one hour for HADA.

Daily Total: 1 hour
Monthly Total: 4.5 hours

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Hour-a-Day April: Day Three

Alright everybody, here it is, the whole reason you are following along with my HADA blog posts: Photographs of my messy house so you won't feel so bad about your own.

My bedroom. The dumping ground for everything that doesn't have a place yet. When I was going through last year's posts, I had to laugh at how many things are going to be a HADA project again this year. That's just the way my life is.

Believe it or not, my bedroom wasn't *too* bad up until we got bunk beds for the girls' room about a month ago. In order to make room for the bunk beds, I had to move the toy shelves somewhere. So I put the toy shelves in their closet, but then I needed somewhere to put all the boxes that were stored in their closet, so, surprise surprise, they ended up in my room. In a big pile in the middle of the room.

I got a bit of a head start on HADA this year. My mom came to visit for a week in March, and I got several projects done in anticipation of her visit, and several more done while she was here and I had extra helping hands. I got the space around the bed mostly cleared of clothes and stuff while my mom was here, and then I tackled the mountain of laundry that created (and actually got to the bottom of it!) before moving on to the other side of the room. I had shoved all the stuff to one side to make room for the pack 'n play a couple weeks ago, because I thought we might be able to use it for naps now that the girls share a room, but it didn't end up working out. So that was one chunk of room that was easy to reclaim. Then I set to work trying to clean with a 17-month-old undoing all my work behind my back.

Aside: A few tips for tackling projects like this with a toddler underfoot:
1. Use small trash bags and tie them off frequently.
2. Make frequent trips to the laundry room, rather than expecting a big pile of laundry to remain piled.
3. Even though it's inefficient, put things away as you go, rather than sorting things into piles to put away later. Believe me, resorting the piles 10 times is even more inefficient.
4. Whenever you come across a toy, put it in a prominent location, as toddler bait (to keep her away from the stuff you don't want her to play with). Sort and put away the toys last.
5. Use the bed for any pile-sorting you need to do, or better yet, use boxes to keep things separated. If you're lucky, she'll be distracted by all the stuff within easier reach, and leave the boxes on the bed alone.

So, I did an hour, but I forgot to budget post-sorting clean-up time, so then I had to do another 30-45 minutes so that we could, you know, sleep in our bed tonight, and so I could vacuum and feel good enough about my progress to take a picture.

I'm still not sure where the boxes are going to go, but I have 27 more days to figure that out. Plus, once I put the boxes away, I will lose the box-wall that is currently keeping a certain curious, button-pushing toddler away from the computer corner. Maybe I could just throw a big blanket over it and call it a room divider...

Daily Total: 1.5 hours
Monthly Total: 3.5 hours

Monday, April 02, 2012

Hour-a-Day April: Day Two

Today was one of those days. One of those go-go-go days where I had somewhere to be or something to do or someone to feed or someone's butt to wipe every moment from the time we woke up (an hour early) until a good two hours after bedtime (and still counting). How do you squeeze an hour of productivity out of a day like that?

It's 9 pm. I normally go to bed between 10 and 11. In theory, I could get my butt in gear and do an hour of cleaning right now. But I am just so drained. I honestly don't think I have it in me.

So, at the risk of bending the rules too much two days into HADA, I'm going to bed early, and I'm calling that my hour. Going to bed early, quite frankly, is something that I almost never make time for in my life, so it totally fits the rules of HADA. I promise, at some point, I will get to some properly productive HADA projects. Until then, I'm giving myself a bit of much-needed rest tonight.

Daily Total: 1 hour (to be confirmed in the morning - EDIT: yep)
Monthly Total: 2 hours

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Hour-a-Day April: Day One

So, today was the first day of April. It was also Sunday, so I found myself slightly conflicted about Hour-a-Day April. I didn't want to start my month of productivity with a day off, but I also didn't want to take on any major cleaning projects on my day of rest. I finally decided to spend my hour today doing something restful that I almost never make time for. That seemed like a good middle ground. I told Jeremy that, once the girls were asleep tonight, I would sit with him for an hour watching whatever movie or show he wanted me to watch. And I would actually pay attention, and not play on my phone or computer, for the whole hour. We have overlapping tastes in television, so when we spend time together watching TV, we try to pick things we both like. But there are a lot of shows that Jeremy likes that I don't particularly like, like civil war documentaries. I thought it would be nice for him to get to watch something *he* likes, without having to take my tastes into account. He cheered when I told him about my plan.

In the end, he chose True Grit (the original, not the remake). I'm not generally a fan of Westerns, but I'm actually really enjoying it. He could have picked something I would have hated, but he knew I would probably like True Grit if he could ever get me to watch it, so he seized this opportunity. We watched the first hour tonight, and I must confess, I'm actually itching to watch the rest of it, but I'm going to wait, because I know how much he was enjoying watching it with me. Watching the second hour won't count for HADA, though. I want to watch it too much.

Day One Total: 1 hour
Month Total: 1 hour