Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Time Has Come

I have a confession to make. And if you know me really well, you already know that this statement is true.
I am a terrible housekeeper.
There. I said it. The first step towards improvement has been made. I admit that I have a problem.
After these past three months of feeling like crap and barely getting the bare essentials done, I'm ready to jump head first into turning this house inside out and getting it cleaned and organized. It needs it SO bad. I need it. Mike needs it. The kids need it. It's gotta get done.
For Christmas, I ordered my SIL a book on organization. Just the title of the book really called out to me. Houseworks: Cut the Clutter, Speed Your Cleaning and Calm the Chaos. Good one, huh? After she opened it on Christmas, I looked through it and at every page I turned to I said out loud, "I need to read about this." or
"This sounds just like my house." or
"Wow, what a great idea."
So, when we got home from all our Christmas traveling, I ordered a copy for myself. I know that just having the book is not going to chance the way I clean. But I figured if I have a tool to teach me what I'm doing wrong and how to do a my job more efficiently, then maybe I have a chance. I couldn't wait for the book to get here though. I needed to start NOW. So I'm venturing a little on my own.
The most obvious problem in my house right now, the thing that always stresses me out, always needs to be done, is never ending, is always on my mind and is everywhere I look: Laundry. Right when I needed to change the kids summer clothes to winter, I also needed to change my "skinny" clothes to maternity clothes. I never got to the changing of my clothes. So when it came time for me to wear maternity clothes, I'd look through the bags, find something to wear and wear it. But then when it was washed and time to put it away, I had no where to put it. So I slowly started bagging my "skinny" clothes and replacing the space with maternity clothes. But this process got lost somewhere along the way and now I just have a mixture of both all over my floor, spilling out of my dresser and a couple trash bags in my room as well. Mike just loves it. Kids trip over clothes trying to get into our bedroom bathroom where they brush their teeth. It's driving me crazy! I can't wait to get this organized. BUT FIRST, I figured I should finish organizing the kids clothes. No, I didn't get that done either. And yes, I pretty much used the same tactic as I did with my clothes, taking out winter clothes as needed and now with double clothes everywhere. On top of all that, I have fallen way behind on laundry. Ya'know how I mentioned that I was barely keeping up with the bare essentials? Well, we've been living out of laundry baskets. Need clean clothes? Go check the clean clothes baskets in the basement. Need socks? Check the sock basket and try to find a matching pair. Is this basket clean or dirty clothes? I don't know. Give it a whiff. Yes, this is the harsh reality of how my family was forced to live. There were times when I'd get some clothes folded and put away. That is, if the clothes even got washed. Most of the time, Mike was the one throwing clothes in the wash because he knew if he didn't do it himself they wouldn't get done. We hit rock bottom when there were no clean towels and we all used sheets to dry off after our showers and baths. That's how my brain works. I get overwhelmed and I start to ignore things. They don't exist anymore. It's the only way I keep my sanity. Until you start drying off with sheets and you can't ignore it anymore and then you becoming even more overwhelmed than before. Not a good way of doing things. So, eventually, I started doing more laundry. Mainly only the baskets in my bedroom and the bathroom were the ones getting washed. The baskets on the kids rooms continued to get ignored. The boys would run out of clothes so I'd do a quick load. But Little Miss Chatterbox never. ran. out. of. clothes. The realization of this finally hit me yesterday when some of her clothes had been washed from the bathroom basket and I went to put them away. I had to shove them in her drawer and push it closed with all my might. It was full to the brim. Then I looked next to her dresser and saw two overflowing laundry baskets full of dirty clothes. By overflowing I mean two huge mountains where you wonder if there's even a basket under them at all. I needed to go through her clothes. I'd tried before. I would start going through them and think, "Well, she doesn't really wear this but it's so cute and she might wear it at so and so time. I better keep it." or
"I know she hates turtle necks but this one is all sparkly and pretty and I know she'd love it. Chatterbox, isn't this pretty?"
"No, mom. I don't like turtlenecks. Give it away."
"You might change your mind. I'll keep it just in case."
You can imagine how small the give away pile would be when I was finished. This time I decided to try something else. I'm almost done washing those two mountains of dirty clothes. While I'm waiting for them to be all clean, I completely emptied her dresser. All of her clothes are sitting in the living room, sorted into piles. We've got skirts, tops, sweaters, pants, jeans, jumpers, Church dresses and jammies. After ALL the clothes are sorted I'm going to only keep what she NEEDS. Seeing it all laid out in front of me really made me realize how ridiculous the amount of clothes she has really is. And they're not even all there yet!

Okay, I started this post on December 30th. Now, it is January 3rd and I thought I'd share with you what I found among Little Miss Chatterbox's clothes:
7 pairs of Jeans
3 pairs of Jean Capris
17 pairs of pants that were not jeans
12 Skirts
13 Casual Dresses/Jumpers
31 Shirts/Tops
12 Sweaters
10 Jammies
8 Church Dresses
Do these numbers shock you? Because they certainly shocked me! I couldn't believe that she had this many clothes and it became no surprise why I didn't need to wash her clothes as often as the rest of us. I got rid of ALOT. And it felt good. I wish I personally knew a family who could use these clothes. I hate just donated them to Goodwill. If only there were a St. Vincent de Paul society around here.
Then I went through my clothes. I bagged my "skinny" clothes, and was able to stuff them under my bed. Then I sorted through my maternity clothes and kept the "XL" in the bags for the third trimester and found room for them in my closet. Now there are no more clothes on my floor! I also got rid of some of the maternity clothes that go in and out of storage but I never wear.
Next, I need to figure out where to keep all of Little Miss Chatterbox's clothes that she has grown out of which I keep because I'm still hoping that one day there will be another baby girl Shaffer. If I find out that this baby is a boy, I will be tempted to just give them away. But I've already been hanging on to them for 6 years... but each year adds more clothes. Maybe I'll just keep the cute little baby clothes and give away her big girl clothes. I don't know. What do you think? I mean, you can get clothes pretty cheap nowadays. And there are a few little girl cousins in Mike's family who we could possibly get hand me downs from. Maybe I should try to find girls in the family to give my girl clothes to. It would free up a lot of space in my house if I got rid of these clothes. I should probably just bite the bullet. But I'll wait until I find out if this baby is a girl or a boy.
Well, I'm still waiting for my book to come in. Until then, I'm going to clean up from the past long weekend which made the house a bit of a mess. And then who knows what I'll be inspired to do next. Oh, i even cleaned out the linens closet! It's nice and organized and more things were tossed in the "give away" pile. Oh, yeah. I still need to actually give away the "give away" pile. Do any of you get bit by the organizer bug after the start of the new year?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hello, there!

Merry Christmas, everyone!
I realize that it's been weeks since my last post and I do apologize to those who have come to my little space in the World Wide Web and found nothing to read.
It's not that I haven't had anything to blog about. It's that I've had too MUCH to blog about!! It's been SO busy around here. But if you read my Advent post, you already knew that. Anyway, Christmas day has come and gone and we are now celebrating the 12 days of Christmas. Things are quieting down and kids are happily playing with new Christmas toys. i thought I'd take a minute to blog but thought, "There's so much I want to say! How do I share it all? Do I go back and do all the posts I've been wanting to do? No, that would take too long. How about one long post catching everyone up?" So, that's what I'm going to do. Don't worry, it's not going to be too long because the kids are going to wake up any minute and want breakfast. So, let's see....we had some wonderful Advent celebrations. The fiesta for our Lady of Guadalupe was really fun and the kids enjoyed having their cousins here for that. We ended up missing Mass because both boys were running fevers. Turns out they both had double ear infections. (All better now, BTW) Little Miss Chatterbox lost her first tooth! Awww, I really wanted to write about this one. She's my first born after all, and the memories of her getting her first tooth are clear as day. Grammy and Grandpa were babysitting for me so I could go watch Mike play softball. I usually brought her but Grammy and Grandpa wanted some time alone with her since we had previously moved 45 minutes away rather than being right down the street like before. When I came home Grandpa had a surprise for me. He found a tooth! In Little Miss Chatterbox's mouth! I couldn't believe it. I had been waiting for a tooth (ya'know how with the first born you wait eagerly for every. little. thing. Haha) and now it was really there. I was very excited and then when i walked down the hallway to go to the bathroom and different emotion struck me. All of a sudden I found myself crying. I was sad that she had a tooth because that meant my baby was growing up. (haha!) I laugh about it now. To think that she was "growing up"! But it was the first time that I really understood that she would not be under my wing forever. That time would one day take her away from me. So when she actually lost her first tooth, much of the same emotion hit me. My little girl is growing up. And there's nothing I can do about it. She's lost another one too. Two teeth down, many to go.
I'm 14 weeks!! Today!! Still sick, but I wasn't expecting it to be gone exactly when I hit 14 weeks. I should start feeling better some time this week though. Yes! I made it! I also got to hear the baby's heartbeat 2 weeks ago. That never gets old. This may be my fourth child, but it's still amazing to hear the heartbeat for the first time. It's the baby's first way of communicating. Letting me know that he or she is there and doing well. What a blessing. Still no name for this little one.... but lots of options. Luckily we still have plenty of time.
Speaking of babies, would you please pray for a dear friend of mine? She went in yesterday to have her fifth baby which happens to also be her fifth girl. Yes, all girls. :) And they're sweet as can be. We met when her 2ND was just a baby and it's been a joy to watch them grow and to meet the new ones along the way. My children love them and her and her husband are the godparents of Mr. Tickle. Anyway, she is VERY high risk and there is a great chance that she will not make it through this delivery. Many fervent prayers would be greatly appreciated.
Well, I hear little feet upstairs. Time for breakfast! I didn't have a chance to add everything I wanted, but at least I caught you all up! Enjoy your week and in case I don't get back here til next week, Happy New Year and Happy Feast Day to Our lady, the Mother of God! (By the way, the term "Mother of God" bothers many protestants and the like. So I want to point something out. By saying that Mary is the Mother of God, we are in no way stating that she was here before God or that she created God or whatever they think. That's pure silliness. We're just saying that she is the Mother of Jesus, who is God and therefore she is the Mother of God. Just takes common sense, you see)

Monday, December 7, 2009

That Mexican Band

In my Advent post, I mentioned that our Church has a special Spanish Mass on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and that they even have a Mexican band in which I couldn't remember the name. Thanks to Kathryn, for reminding me that it's called a Mariachi Band!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Perfect Paper Snowflakes

For our craft today, we're making paper snowflakes. Seems appropriate since it's snowing outside! I mean, really, really snowing. It's coming down hard and fast. I'm glad we made it outside this morning before it started coming down so much.

If you'd like to learn how to make the perfect paper snowflake, check out this video.

Enjoy the snow!

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Advent is a time to prepare for the birth of Christ. But it takes a lot of preparing to prepare! I've been pretty busy gathering things together for the different devotions that we do as a family. I love Advent because it's full of wonderful feast days and family traditions and THEN it's Christmas time and we continue to celebrate Christmas at least until the Epiphany on January 6th which is when the wise men reached the Holy Family. As a child, Christmas always seemed to end so quickly. But now we spend so much time preparing and then celebrating and so it doesn't seem that way anymore. Tonight I started working on our Advent calendar. I'm already 3 days behind! But I finally got to a point where we can use it so we'll begin tomorrow. I bought some plain wooden blocks from Michael's and and one side I have the date, another the Jesse tree symbol, then the Jesse tree Scripture reading, then a figure to add to our Nativity scene (leaving baby Jesus until Christmas, of course!), a penance or act of charity for the day, and a special activity for the day. The Jesse Tree is the family tree of Jesus, starting with Creation. Everyday we read Scripture and learn about each family member. Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, Jesse, David, Soloman, Joseph, Mary, John the Baptist and finally Jesus. It helps us to remember how long they had to wait for the Messiah and it makes our 4 weeks seem very short! Some sort of penance or act of charity could be as simple as having the kids clean their rooms, pray the Rosary for the people who are lonely during the holidays, or making a card to mail to family who can't be home for the holidays. Our special activities are mostly crafts plus all the special feast day plans we have coming up. I'm looking forward to having time with the kids each day to take a break and enjoy each others company. Since I got pregnant and have been sick everyday, I haven't been able to do as much with the kids. So this really comes at the perfect time. The kids really need some Mommy time. Here are the feast days coming up:
Dec. 6th: Saint Nicholas
This is a big one for us. We don't use "Santa Claus" in our home since he was derived from St. Nick. So, on the eve of St. Nick's feast day, the kids hang their stockings (since it's been told that St. Nick went down the chimney and put money in three sisters stockings which were hanging up to dry because they needed a dowry to get married) then they also set their shoes out because there's a story that St. Nick put money in poor children's shoes. So, we do both. The stockings are filled with candy and little toys (and an orange because I always had one in my stocking as a kid) and then their shoes turn into brand new slippers and inside the slippers are chocolate coins. In Germany, they eat ginger flavored cookies and drink spiced wine so we our going to build a gingerbread church this year and drink spiced apple cider. (Another German tradition we use is the "Christkindl" or Christ Child, who the kids write a letter to on the first day of Advent, telling Him what they are giving up for Advent -this year it's the computer- and what they would like Him to bring for their siblings on Christmas. Yes, we say that it's the Child Jesus who brings them gifts, not Santa). We'll also watch a cartoon we got a few years ago called "Nicholas: the boy who became Santa Claus". We'll also have a big brunch after Mass.
Dec. 7th: Saint Ambrose
He is the patron saint for candle makers so we will be making our Christ candle which is where we paint different symbols of Christ on a white candle.
Dec. 8th: Immaculate Conception
Holy day of obligation, so we will attend Mass. We will also cover our Christ Candle with a blue veil to represent Christ in Mother Mary's womb. Then we'll have dinner with all white food to signify her purity.
Dec. 12th: Our Lady of Guadalupe
Big Mexican fiesta for the kids and some cousins with a pinata, pin the tail on Juan's donkey and a craft. Then we'll eat our Mexican feast, pray together and attend the Spanish Mass our Church has every year and they even have a Mexican band play (I know they have a name. what are they called?) Oh, and the kids will pick out roses to bring to Our Lady. At Church, they set up a beautiful statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe and everyone brings her roses and it looks so beautiful. I'll try to get a picture this year.
Dec. 13th: Saint Lucy
The tradition for this feast is that the oldest daughter in the family (in our case, the only daughter) wears a white dress with a red sash (or at least just wears white and red) and wears a crown of lit candles on her head (not my kids. we make the wreath and candles out of paper) because Lucy means Light. Then she serves her family sweet rolls for breakfast (we're just having glazed donuts). This year, the 13th happens to also be Gaudette Sunday -or, Joyful Sunday-the third week of Advent where the pink candle is lit ob the Advent wreath and we will eat pink things for lunch. It's joyful because only one week remains until Christmas.
Then things finally slow down a bit as we begin decorating the house for Christmas. Since we celebrate Christmas long after Christmas day, we aren't getting our tree until the 19th. We also have a few purple decorations up right now but the real Christmas decorations will come out during the last week of Advent.
Whew. I hope I can do all these things this year! The kids are so excited (and so am I!) and right now St. Nicholas Day is all they can talk about. 3 more days! I'll post pictures of my Advent calendar soon. God bless and goodnight! (don't you love this time of year?)