Tuesday, April 28, 2015

HADA 2015: Days 27-28

Day 27:
Cleaned living room, washed living room windows, washed winter coats, paid Camporee balances for my Girl Scout troop. Ordered pizza for dinner.

Day 28:
A friend came over to help me clean today (we alternate weeks helping each other, but we had missed the past few weeks for a variety of reasons). We tackled the clothes/Lego/guest room. We got JW's too small clothes rotated out, and his next size rotated in (one more box to go, that I found later). Got all of the girls' clean-but-not-put-away laundry put away. Sorted through the next-size-up clothes for both girls, and purged some of the outgrown clothes to hand-me-down to a friend. Completely cleaned off the guest bed. (At some point in here, my friend had to leave, but I kept going for a while.) Tidied up the Lego table, and rebuilt some of the broken buildings that had suffered a toddler fate (my kids are "build it then play with it forever" kids, not "build, unbuild, and rebuild" kids like I was). Cleaned the entire guest room floor and vacuumed it. Cleaned the kids' room (with the kids' help!) Stripped D's bed to wash the mattress cover. Put away all the Duplo. Returned third floor toys to the third floor, books to the peaceful room, and laundry to the hamper. Vacuumed the kids' room. Leftovers for dinner.

Monday, April 27, 2015

HADA 2015: Days 19-26

So, a whole week has slipped by since I last wrote about my HADA progress. In that week, I think I probably put in my seven hours, in fits and starts, and a few marathons. I wrote a dozen blog posts in my head, but never sat down to actually type them up, because the bad days sounded like making excuses, and the good days sounded like celebrating mediocrity.

Depression really sucks. It minimizes your successes, and magnifies your failures.

I promised myself I would write something today. And maybe I will get around to saying something about HADA in a little bit, but right now, I want to share two images of my mental/emotional state right now.

Image One:

I am a rock, on the floor of a cavern. Above me, there is slow, but steady, drip. Each drop hits me in the exact same place, and that place is being slowly carved out by the endless series of drips. Whenever I cry for help, I feel silly asking, because it's just a drip. One drop of water doesn't hurt. And whenever help comes, I am ashamed at how easy it is for others to bear the weight of that drip, and I am grateful for the reprieve, but eventually, my help moves on, and the drip resumes its slow burrowing into my core.

Image Two:

I am swimming across a river with a strong current. I am swimming as hard as I can, but it doesn't look like I'm getting anywhere. I want to stop and rest for a moment, to get my bearings, and check my progress, but if I stop swimming for even a moment, I know the current will carry me away. So I keep on swimming, and pray that the direction I am heading is still the right one, because I can't afford to stop.

At least once this week, I got caught up on dishes. And then I got behind again. I baked bread with the kids at least once, and I got fast food for lunch at least once. I tackled several clutter hot spots, and ended up with a clean front hall, a mostly-clean laundry room, a clear path to the basement, and a place to put all of the things I have been tripping over in the kitchen for weeks. Meanwhile, I lost the battle with the living room, the kid's room, and the guest room. I deep-cleaned the bathroom and half-cleaned the upstairs hallway. I organized about half of my Girl Scout supplies, and I started the process of retiring the winter clothes for the season. I weeded one section of the garden, but still need to till my new garden bed, so I can transplant the seedlings we started. But I forgot to water the seedlings a few times, and I'm not sure how many of them will survive until the transplant, anyhow. This past weekend was my only non-busy weekend until July, and I blinked once, and it was over, with my to-do list barely touched. Jeremy just went on a three-day business trip, and he didn't mow the lawn before he left, so I need to find the time to do that, now, too, with the kids underfoot. I got some groceries, but I'm still not sure what I'm making for dinner tonight. We missed the bus this morning, then the car wouldn't start. Drip drip drip.

I did take some pictures of my progress, on one of the "good" days. I forgot to take "before" pictures, so these pictures will only be impressive to those of you who have been to my house and know what my "normal" looks like.

Front hall:

From HADA 2015

Path to basement door: (This space was knee-deep with clutter all the way to the door, so that I couldn't even open the door without moving at least two boxes.)

From HADA 2015

Do you ever get home from grocery shopping, put away all of the perishables, but then leave the non-perishables in bags to "get to later"? This is the space where I leave those bags. It had bags going back almost a month.

From HADA 2015

John Wallace helping with the dishes during one of the brief times when I was caught up enough to include the kids:

From HADA 2015

April is almost over, and, at the moment, I am not overly optimistic about the progress I might make over the next few days, but I figured I could at least post an update today, so that I have a clean slate for my next blog post, with a bit less baggage.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Simple Sit-Upon Tutorial

HADA Days 16, 17, and 18 didn't happen. I've decided that days with Girl Scout activities take up too much of my attention to do anything extra on those days, and this week, we had a meeting on Thursday, and an overnight Friday-Saturday, so those three days were out. So, in lieu of a HADA post today, I am making a tutorial for the sit-upons we made at our overnight.

First off, if you have never been a Girl Scout, you might not know what a sit-upon is. It's basically a square of something somewhat squishy and waterproof for you to "sit upon" at outdoor events where there might be nothing more than hard ground or damp picnic tables to sit on. The classic sit-upon design involves sewing around the edges with laces, but I wasn't sure my Daisies would have the patience and/or dexterity for that, so we went with a duct tape edging. This still required a bit more dexterity than many of them had, but I think the end results were pretty decent.

Gather your materials

For each girl, you will need:

  • Two 13"x13" squares of sturdy vinyl tablecloth (the dollar store kind is not sturdy enough). I traced my square cutting board, which happened to be exactly the right size.
  • One 12"x12" double layer of quilt batting. (Or other padding of some sort.)
  • Four 13" long strips of duct tape.
    Tip #1: Stick the tape on wax paper, so you can distribute them to the girls without them getting stuck to everything and each other.
    Tip #2: Buy them in the hardware section, not the craft section, where they are twice as expensive.
  • One 24" long segment of parachute cord (or other sturdy cord). Melt the ends to prevent fraying (if you use a lighter, do this at home, before the meeting, because lighter fluid is not allowed at Girl Scout events).
You will also need:
  • Sharp scissors
  • Some sort of hole punching implement
  • Sharpies

From GS Crafts


Place your two squares of tablecloth together, with the pretty sides out. Tape along one edge, so that the duct tape overhangs the edge, and sticks approximately half to the sit-upon, and half to the table.

From GS Crafts

Unstick from table and flip over. Press tape down over onto other side, sealing edge closed.

From GS Crafts

Repeat until three edges have been sealed with tape, leaving one edge open.

Slide quilt batting into opening, taking care to flatten it all the way into the back corners.

From GS Crafts

Close the fourth edge with duct tape, as directed above.

Punch two holes a few inches apart on one edge of the sit-upon. (If your puncher is having a hard time getting through the layers of plastic, try putting a piece of folded card stock behind it.)

From GS Crafts

Thread your para cord through the holes and tie off, to use as a hanging/carrying handle. I used para cord because it is great for practicing knot tying, and could have a variety of uses on a camping trip.

From GS Crafts

Write your name on it in Sharpie.

From GS Crafts


From GS Crafts

Thursday, April 16, 2015

HADA 2015: Day 15

Let's just pretend Days 10-14 never happened. They were wonderful, and terrible, and busy, and unproductive. I tried to clean my room once, but I only made 3 square feet of progress in 20 minutes, after which I was distracted by more urgent things.

But yesterday, I got back on the horse. Cleaned the kitchen table so I could have a staging ground to tackle this:

That's the desk in the corner of my kitchen. Where Valerie is supposed to do her homework. Where I need to hook my laptop up if I need to print anything. (See it there, balanced precariously on top of the huge pile of crap?)

And I did it. I have no idea how long it took, because my time was riddled with interruptions. Paper plate insects with the girls. Marbles in the side yard. Lunch. Vinegar and baking soda volcanoes. Dinner. But it did get done.

I still need to do the top shelf, but it's actually not as bad as it looks, because I just did it a few weeks ago. It just has a lot of boxes, so it looks deeper than it really is.

One of my non-HADA life goals is to include my kids more in the day-to-day stuff of life. Since it's April, this means including them in my HADA projects, if possible. We did alright on this today. Dorothy helped to wash the dishes. Valerie helped to sort the pens/markers/crayons/etc. (Aside: Is there a generic term for those? Implements of colorization? Draw-thingies? My drawers are not currently labeled, because I have one that contains paints, markers, crayons, pens, pencils, etc., which all seem to fit together categorically, but I don't know what to call them. "Writing implements" doesn't cover paints, but "coloring implements" doesn't cover pens. Yes, I am totally over-thinking life.)

While I was cleaning the desk, I shoved a few things into the "Mama Only" drawer, which can now barely close. So I dumped it out and organized it, too.



It might not look that much better at a glance, but I can easily grab what I need, now, and that was my intention.

As for daily stuff: I did get the table cleared both before dinner from the desk-mess, and after dinner from the dinner-mess. The dishes are not done, and the laundry is currently backed up a bit due to a stomach bug, but I can get to the sink, so it's not the worst it has been this month.

And, with a clear table to play on, my family was able to sit down to an enjoyable game of Zooreka after dinner. I understand the sentiment of the whole, "Ignore the messy house, and focus on your kids," advice, but for those of us who tend towards letting the dishes pile up without well-intentioned poems telling us to, it's nice to be reminded once in a while that family board games start with clean kitchen tables.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

HADA 2015: Day 9

Today was my Girl Scout troop's badge ceremony. Which was totally fine, because all of the prep was already done, right? Oh yeah, except for that whole bunch of last minute things I forgot about. Oops. So, a good chunk of today was spent making permission forms for upcoming events, and then gathering things that each, individually, wouldn't take long to gather, but together... well, you get the picture.

Other than Girl Scout stuff, I had decided that I would focus a little more than half of my HADA energy today on daily things. Since I didn't get the dishes done after dinner last night, I cleaned the kitchen table this morning, and I did make sure to get the dishes all done during the day today, so that I would have a clean slate for dinner. And after the badge ceremony, I somehow scraped together enough energy to clean the table and wash the dinner dishes, so I will have a clean slate for BREAKFAST tomorrow. Exciting, I know.

My printer has been acting up lately, giving me paper jam errors after every page or two. So I flipped it over and cleaned off the rollers that grab the paper (and, over time, assorted lint), so I could print my permission forms. I'm not sure that should count, though, since, "Crap, I need this thing right now, I better fix it," is pretty much my M.O. already, but I am happy it is done, and my printer works properly again.

And, for good measure, I also cleaned up the living room while Jer was putting the kids to bed. So, pretty good on daily stuff today. I also managed to play some board games with Dorothy on the clean kitchen table while her brother napped. I'm always happy when I manage to fit quality time with my middle child into my day.

Bible reading isn't going so great. I think I lack the attention span for extended scripture reading at this particular time of my life. So, I decided to try a new tactic. I just wrote out a Bible verse on an index card, and stuck it by my computer. One verse. That's it. I'll read it several times a day, and let it simmer in my brain for a while. Maybe a narrower, more meditative focus, scattered throughout my day, will work better for me right now.

Oh yeah, I folded a couple loads of laundry, too. A very disjointed day, but pretty productive overall.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

HADA 2015: Day 8

My mom left this morning, but we still managed a decently productive day. I even made breakfast, lunch, and dinner! We had a play date in the morning, then John Wallace took a nice, long, much-needed nap, so I got to spend some quality one-on-one time with Dorothy making silly sentences with her sight words. (Pro-tip: Make "poop" one of your sight words. Hilarity will ensue.) Then Dorothy took a nap, and I had an unprecedented stretch of kid-free time to do one of my HADA projects, so I sat down and made a family budget spreadsheet. Woohoo, party time! Now that the hard part is done, we'll see how we do with the nearly-impossible part of actually keeping track of expenses and staying on budget. Once the excitement over the tech aspects of designing a spreadsheet wear off (What? That's totally a thing!), I'll need to find a way to keep caring about keeping it up to date. I'll let you know how that goes.

Anyhow, since this is the first time I have sat down in years and compiled a proper budget, and some things were not where I thought they would be, this project actually took several hours. (Fun fact: When I purchased renter's insurance 11 months ago and paid for a year up front, I never signed into their online system, so it couldn't find me when I tried to sign in today. Then I discovered that, although I purchased insurance from Company A, it was underwritten by Company B, but something-elsed by Company C, which was where I had to go create an online account. Good times.)

As for daily stuff, I did clean the living room before bed today, I did eat breakfast, I did make Valerie's lunch for tomorrow, and I did put away dinner. But I think that's all I will be getting done. I am seriously behind on sleep and need to go to bed early when I can.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

HADA 2015: Days 6-7

Monday, April 6

Today was absolutely gorgeous, so we took a picnic to Longwood Gardens. I deliberately left my camera at home so I could just enjoy the time, and it was nice. We walked a bajillion miles, because I was totally convinced that a certain path would loop back around to the children's garden, but it dead-ended at some construction barriers, so we had to double back. My legs are sore, my it was a good day.

Managed two HADA projects after we came back, though. Finally took down the Christmas lights on the front porch (yeah, we're *that* family). Then I dug a trench below my drain pipe and filled it with stones so my garden doesn't flood every time it rains. Together, those projects took about an hour.

Then I did a bunch of stuff for our Girl Scout badge ceremony this week. Oh, and I also baked bread and made muffins in there somewhere.

Tuesday, April 7

I was watching my friend's kids for a few hours this morning, so I didn't expect to get much done, but they entertained each other relatively well, and I was able to get a few things done after all. We scrubbed and dried and filled our new-to-us sandbox, and assembled and filled the water table that Valerie had won at an event over the weekend. We even partially cleaned out the van looking for the plug to the water table, so that's a good start, there, too. And we managed to finish all of the Passover leftovers at lunch, which isn't exactly a HADA thing, but it felt like a huge accomplishment!

My mom gathered ALL the recyclables from the side porch so they could go to the curb, and straightened up and swept the side porch when she was done. It hasn't looked this nice in ages! That was one of my "list" projects, and I'm excited to be able to cross it off. I'm going to be sad when my mom leaves tomorrow. Managing this family almost seems possible when there are two of us cooking and cleaning and washing up!

At some point today, I got super-optimistic and started cleaning the metro shelves in the living room. They are supposed to store the kids' board games, but they have become more of a dumping ground for anything that I want to stick out of reach of John Wallace. I put a folding table in the middle of the room, and starting pulling everything off the shelves. Then John Wallace woke up from his too-short nap. Today was definitely one of those "pick away at it a little at a time" days, but I was finally able to dig in and finish it tonight, after going to a Girl Scout Service Unit meeting and getting groceries.

I'm trying not to think too much about the next few days. There is something large-ish on the calendar every day, and there is no downtime on the horizon for me before Sunday evening. I'm praying that I can keep plugging away at the most necessary things, not catch the cold that everyone else in my family is suffering from, and get some decent sleep at night.

And, on that note, I am going to go to bed.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

HADA 2015: Days 2-5

Okay, I am finally sitting down at the end of a whirlwind four days. The reason I started HADA early this year was that I knew I wouldn't get much done on Passov-easter weekend, and I didn't want to take so many days off so soon after starting. So, here we go, in point form again, for brevity:


  • Finalize seder shopping list
  • Get seder groceries
  • Hard-boil eggs for seder
  • Cook 9-pound brisket
  • Make 4 gallons of chicken broth
  • Park play date
  • Go out for dinner (house full of food, and nothing to eat...)
  • Make two desserts
  • Burn one of the desserts, and make it all over again


  • A whole bunch of Girl Scout paperwork I had been putting off, and thought I had more time for
  • Make 6 quarts of tzimmes
  • Make 10 pounds of dried fruit and kalamata chicken
  • Make potato kugel
  • Make a third dessert
  • Transport everything to the church
  • Slice brisket
  • Reheat everything
  • Make 7 pounds of charoset
  • Make 50 matzah balls
  • Passover Seder (everything was great!)
  • Foot washing


  • Matzo brei for breakfast
  • I actually don't remember anything about the rest of the morning, except that I was in recovery mode
  • Nap with the baby
  • Go to the DMV to get my new driver's license photo
  • Shopping for Easter bunny treasures
  • Leftovers for dinner
  • Actually managed a proper HADA hour cleaning the third floor play room, so the Easter Bunny would be able to hide eggs and baskets up there
  • Stuff eggs and set up Easter egg hunt


  • Supervise Easter egg hunting
  • Deal with ant situation that developed when some ants discovered the cookie-filled eggs
  • Get everyone dressed and out the door for church
  • Head to family Easter party an hour away
  • Head home
  • Not-leftovers for dinner (we'll be back to eating leftovers again tomorrow, but we wanted a little break)
  • Bath night for all three kids

Thursday, April 02, 2015

HADA 2015: Day 1

(My inner nerd is a bit annoyed that today is Day 1, and yesterday was Day -1. That's a difference of 2! Where did the extra day go?)

Pretty productive day. My mom came to visit. She'll be here for a week. Yay!

I'm going to go with some point-form again today, because with my lengthy blog posts, Hour-a-Day April becomes more like a Two-Hour-a-Day April.

Today (meaning, yesterday, because I am a day late posting again), I:

  • Finished *almost* all the dishes again (but then my mom finished the rest, so they did get done!)
  • Cleared off and cleaned the top of the dishwasher (it now houses only the espresso machine, which I also cleaned)
  • Sorted and cleaned up the "sweep to" corner (do other people do that? Sweep all the crap from the kitchen floor into one corner, to sort through and pick out non-trash items, then sweep up the rest later?)
  • Organized the piles and piles and piles of clothes from the guest room so my mom would have somewhere to sleep (and a floor to walk across to get to the bed)
  • Organized all my Passover recipes and finalized my menu and ingredient list for Friday's seder
  • Folded another load of laundry
  • Made a double batch of meatballs (half for dinner, and half to freeze for later)
I might have done some other stuff, too, but that's more than my hour, right there. And now, since this blog has been very word-heavy recently, some before/after pictures!

Guest room, before:

Guest room, after:

Bonus Picture of Valerie's special lunch (chocolate fondue, chips, and a hard-boiled egg named Eggby who came back home again because he was "too cute to eat"):

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

HADA 2015: Day -1

Sometimes, all you need in life is a friend to sit at your kitchen table and have coffee and conversation while you wash the dishes. I feel like all I did today was wash dishes for hours on end, but the time passes faster with company. Further confirmation that I am not one of those people who was built to live in isolation.

Today, I:

  • Put corned beef and cabbage in the crockpot for dinner
  • Sorta ate breakfast (1/4 of a bagel that a child abandoned - that counts, right?)
  • Washed almost all the dishes (including all of the dishes I dirtied today)
  • Finished almost all the laundry
  • Cut up a ton of fruit to make fondue, and let both girls help (Valerie even got to use a REAL knife!)
  • Put away leftovers and cleaned up the table immediately after dinner
  • Hard-boiled the eggs I needed to send with Valerie to school
  • Emptied sink and swept kitchen floor before bed
  • Did a bit of mending (combed out and re-braided the ear flaps and sewed up a hole on one of Valerie's favorite hats that was looking raggedy)
  • Read my Bible before bed
Still a lot to do, but if I can keep up even a fraction of this pace, it will be a productive April, indeed!

But the next few days of my life will be dedicated to preparing a Passover seder for about 35 people, so I don't know how many HADA-related projects I will get done. My mom is coming today, though, so I will have an extra set of hands to help with the kids and dishes. And my Girl Scout badge ceremony was rescheduled from this week to next week, which frees up a whole evening (plus prep time), so I am cautiously optimistic.