Posting of Daily Goals for Decluttering/Organization – my Flight Plan

Archive for July, 2012

Flight Plan – Delayed… but not grounded

I am without kids this week.  The two youngest are having their annual week of Grandma & Grandpa Camp, and my oldest is doing a job shadow to prepare for her future career.  It’s my week for major decluttering!!  Right?!

Yesterday’s decluttering time was sucked up by insurance issues!  I’ve mentioned that my youngest is scheduled for surgery in August.  This is actually two surgeries designed to correct physical effects caused by a brain tumor removed when she was 5.  E  is going on 11 now.  Well, last January our doctor referred us to surgeons for consultation, and they, in turn, sent us for a complete analysis of how E’s muscles communicate with her brain as she moves.  Long story short, we are (I am) now working to get insurance to pay for all this, even though we were told that none of it needed prior authorization or pre-approval.

Motion analysis lab

Left side of desk – bins of 3-ring binders on floor under window, bins of teaching materials stacked by desk but blocking access to file cabinet, overflow on and under bench by desk

Left side of desk after moving the bench and clearing overflow and miscellaneous items that were hiding underneath the bench.

I turned the bench the other direction, since it was butting up against the bins that were, in turn, blocking the file cabinet. Kids’ books that were sliding off the top of their bins were collected and placed in another bin on one end of the bench. All bins will be moved to my room at school in the next couple of weeks.

So, I made phone calls, wrote letters, faxed those letters, and wished….. that I was getting paid for my time, especially when this is supposed to be my week to get my big decluttering/organization project done.  My plans were majorly delayed….. but not grounded!  Here’s what I did at the end of the day.

I’m following the Olympics this week.  So, for my 15 minute increment I chose the beach volleyball segment to work on the area around the left side of my desk.  (You may recall that the right side of my desk came earlier this summer when I wanted to reach the window for some fresh air.  Well, there’s a window on the other side too!  There’s also a filing cabinet we need to access.  Can you see it in the first picture, or do you need the second?)  

Yes, so proud of this!

You know, I started this blog thinking that I would post my goals and use the blog as my accountability for accomplishing what I set out to do.  Lately that has dissolved into here’s what it used to look like and here’s what it looks like now.  It works!  I am accomplishing things left and right and keeping my positive energy flowing with this blog as my motivation.  Thank you to anyone who lets me know that they’re following along on the journey.  But, a bigger, riskier step is to post my goal ahead of time… to set that bigger goal and a time frame for accomplishment.

That big goal is the basement family room.  At least that’s what we call it.  Our family doesn’t go there.  The kids used to when they were much younger, but it’s not such a people friendly place to be anymore.  It’s been the place to store boxes and bins of stuff to the point where there’s no room to DO anything.  It’s also filled with toys the kids have outgrown: a toddler slide; a kids’ basketball hoop; a sit-n-spin; a disorganized art cart and desk strewn with scraps of paper, broken crayons, dried up markers.

It also smells kinda funky.  It’s the place where the cats live where we’re away from home.  Where they leave their fur and fur balls.  It’s also where the excessive rains in the spring and/or fall leave the carpet under the egress windows damp and musty smelling.  The bugs and spiders love it and take up residence there.  After all, no one will disturb them!

You may recall that I started the summer and this blog in the basement.  We need to use this space!  It’s a whole level of our house that we are not using well.  Have I mentioned that DH and I are not getting time to ourselves with teenagers in the house?  They never go to bed!!  But without the basement, they have nowhere else to go, and neither do we.  We are temporarily sharing our bedroom with our youngest until the oldest leaves for college.

“One more year, one more year!!!”

“Now that we’re trying to push you out, Sweetie!”

My newest thought is to make the basement so inviting that if teen DD doesn’t want it, I will!!  Of course there’s a few glitches to figure out in that plan, such as lack of closets in the basement and needing to travel to the 2nd floor of the house to shower.  Not to mention the part about making it a place for the kids and their friends to go – play Wii, air hockey, watch movies… but to also be someone’s bedroom…  just for a year!  It would make a great teen apartment, especially for our vegetarian DD who cooks separately for herself already.

That’s my goal!  Where’s Nate Berkus when I need him?!  15 minutes at a time, the basement will be an inviting place to be!!!


Flight Plan – What’s under the sink?

I’m a blue ButterFLY Baby. I’m FLYing, baby!

I’m trying to remember what FlyLady says about not being hard on ourselves when we don’t get done what we wanted to do.  Stay positive, look at what we’ve accomplished, and not at what didn’t get done, and move forward!  I’ve had the goal all week to do 15-minute increments of decluttering in the corner on the right side of my desk.  I did the left side of the desk the last weekend in June and haven’t made it to the other side yet.

Here’s the good news!  I cleared a stack of paper on my desk and found a couple of forms I had needed  Yes!

6 egg cartons, 5 bottles of cleaner, 4 shampoos & conditioners, 3 cutting boards, 2 boxes of scrubbies, and 1 pile of collected dirt and crumbs

Then I got frustrated by our empty kitchen garbage can.  I mean really empty!  On garbage pick-up day, I start collecting little piles of trash, because the box of trash bags is on a shelf in the garage and I have to find a pair of shoes and go out to get a bag from that box.  Too much trouble.  Today I finally decided to clear a space for the box in the cupboard under the kitchen sink, right next to the trash can!! This meant clearing out a few other things….  1 box of SOS pads and 1 box of sponges with scrubbies on the other side.  I have since learned about the high bacteria count in kitchen sponges and no longer use them.  I have purchased antibacterial sponges that can actually be washed in the washing machine and not thrown away.  Green, yes!  Also, 6 empty egg cartons!  Yes, 6!  Why?  Only because they had fallen toward the back of the cupboard where they couldn’t be seen.  I am now donating them to the “egg lady,” a local woman who raises her own chickens and sells the eggs.

Everything in its place, including the box of kitchen trash can liners, and a freshly lined trash can

My afternoon was spent with two of my kids at the local swimming pool.  A day well spent!

Flight Plan – Recovering from Vacation and Moving Forward

Today is that day after vacation when life must move forward.  Coming home on a Friday night, after 2 full days in a van with 5 people, 5 suitcases, 3 coolers, and a couple of plastic bins, meant getting to sleep in on Saturday and moving kinda slow the entire weekend.  That being said, my overachieving husband unpacked the entire van himself between Friday night and Saturday afternoon and left the inside of the house settling in for the rest of us to accomplish.  Here’s what was left of our large rolling cooler for me to deal with today and what I was able to change this to in 15 minutes of sorting and storing.


Nestled in the bottom of this cooler are a zip lock bag of grapes and two FridgeSmart containers of cherries and grapes, all with melted ice water in them. Time to sort the good from the spoiled!


1 zip lock and 2 FridgeSmarts reduced to this one nicely labeled contained we can snack from today – all in 15 minutes!

Another 15 minutes Image

to turn this…


freshly purchased unwashed strawberries

into this…

Meanwhile our van went from this…


  to this…


 Next up tomorrow, 4-H projects and some light decluttering OR will we end up at the swimming pool?  Nice to have this gift of time in the summer!

Flight Plan – FLYing while on vacation

CHASA (Children’s Hemiplegia & Stroke Association)

Over the past week my family and I road tripped to Arlington, TX for the annual CHASA retreat for families of kids with hemiplegia or one-sided weakness.  CHASA = Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association.  I might have mentioned in an earlier post about our youngest child, Emily age 10, who has right-sided hemiplegia.  More to come on that…

Okay, the best I can say about our family organization on our recent week-long vacation is that we did indeed have organization!!!  Did I feel entirely organized?  Well, no.  But I’m still working on why and what to do about it.

I coded my 4 lists all in purple for CHASA (hemiplegia awareness) so I could find them all easily in Color Note.

I had 4 different lists in use while packing – one for the cooler we use to avoid eating out all the time, one for the bin of general supplies for picnicking and living away from home (including pool toys), a small first-aid bin, and the general packing list we use for any overnight trip (you know – socks, underwear, toothbrush, etc.).  I always knew what was in each bin.  Yes!!!

I did not personally pack the coolers or decide which items went in each one – one large on wheels, one medium-sized, and one smaller.  That was a problem!  The drinks and snacks that should have been accessible while traveling were not!  We had to dig out a drink from a hidden cooler during a rest stop and decide right then what we wanted to have for the next few hours.


The bins and coolers worked well when we stayed in one place for 4 days.

My bin system worked well.


I really appreciated the organization of my bins during our hotel stays, but we really needed some kind of system for placement of the bins in our rooms.  We stayed in two different hotels on the way to Arlington, one room at the retreat hotel for 4 nights, and one more hotel on the way home to MN.  I knew what was in every bin and learned what was in each cooler, but the order and placement of the bins and coolers varied from one hotel room to another.  I had to look right to left and back again each time to decide where the one I wanted was placed.  I guess my brain needs a pattern to follow from one place to the next to keep my sense of order.

Hotel desk or “flat surface”!!!

More hotel desk or more flat surface!!


As you can see from the pictures, my family followed their usual pattern of placing random objects on flat surfaces.  It didn’t take long before I felt like my brain was on overload with all the visual clutter around me. Aaaahhhh!  Where do you put random objects in a hotel room?

So, organization was improved over trips of the past.  I had my lists and I used them religiously.  But there’s definitely room for more improvement.

On return home at 10:00 p.m., the first thing I did…  swept and mopped the kitchen floor, dirtied by shoes coming in and out and sorted the mail accumulated over a week’s time to make it easier to deal with in the morning.  15 minutes!

Flight Plan – July 11, 2012 Getting the family to FLY

Yes!!!  I started the FlyLady’s habit a couple of months ago of making the bed as soon as I get out of it, at least my half on days DH is still there.  DH fell right in and finished his side after I left for work during the school year.  Today I remembered that I haven’t been making my side this week since I wanted to strip the bed and haven’t gotten there yet.  I found that DH had made the whole thing (pulling up the sheet and one thin blanket – which is all we do in the summer) and realized that he has been doing this for some time.  Yes!!!

It takes 2 minutes or less!  We can do this!  Kids too!

We’re still getting ready for our trip.  My morning started with looking for a travel organizer I had purchased a couple of years ago, but now I’m afraid it’s lost in the garage right when we could really use it.  I did find a couple of empty bins that we can use once the cobwebs are washed out.  Yuck!  Then I vacuumed the dust and bugs out of a bin of stamping materials I’ve been tripping over.  They’re out in my space to remind me to store them or post them for sale.

(Now there’s an important question….  How do we quickly decide what we’ll keep, including how to store it, and what we’ll sell/donate and how much it’s worth/we should ask for it?  I would welcome any answers……..)

Come on! I want that window, not the one you already opened.

To return to topic….my morning so far has been somewhat random, even though I have a list (a bit too long today) right in front of me.  But after cleaning the stamping bin, I found the bin of gaming manuals that DS was asking me about just yesterday, dusted it, and put it out for him.  Now the cat wants to get to her window.  Is she okay with the window on the right side of the desk where I cleared the space the other day?  No,…. she thinks she needs the window on the left side of the desk, and that side isn’t scheduled for decluttering until after our trip.

Flight Plan – July 10, 2012 Preparing to FLY on vacation

I’m FLYing (or at least babystepping) with my routines.

I’m carrying on with the regular mid-summer routine of summer school, instrument lessons, TaeKwonDo along with the, hopefully organized, chaos of preparing to leave on vacation.  As my title states, I am attempting to continue to FLY (Finally Loving Yourself) through this week and this whole process.

One of my favorite organizational tools – lists, lists, color coded lists ColorNote on my Droid and my Kindle Fire helps tremendously.  I have my lists made and color coded from previous years so I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel this time.  I’m prepared to grocery with the kids tomorrow, or at least 2/3 of them.  They can each pick their own healthy snack to take along as well as help decide on other food items.

We’ll stay overnight 2 nights on our way to our final destination, the annual CHASA (Children’s Hemiplegia & Stroke Association) retreat for families in Arlington, Texas.  We’re counting on continental breakfast in hotels, packed lunch, and eating out for supper.  We’ll have a large cooler, a bin with food and food-related items, another bin or box of other needed items such as flippers and floaties, and a suitcase and tote bag apiece for 5 people.  I fully intend to continue to post organizational progress while traveling.

The bench by my desk before clearing

Meanwhile, my desk area gets encroached on so easily.  Time for some bench clearing so I can move in my space.  Also, keeping up with dishes and laundry makes for continuing good habits and allowing us to easily invite our pet sitter into the house.

Here’s the newly cleared bench by my desk.

About 15 minutes later…

Flight Plan – July 9, 2012 On or off the flight plan?

I’m a Butterfly Baby!

I am happy to report that I have my first few followers.  It’s encouraging to know that someone is following my efforts and that I could have feedback on what I post.  Here is part of one of the comments I have received, along with my response to it.

“Your decluttering efforts are admirable.  Having a decluttered house should make for more peaceful children.  But where does the stuff go that is moved?  I have a big problem with this too.  Where to put it?”   My response:
Much of the clutter in our house is stuff that needs to go anyway.  Kids’ toys that our kids have outgrown, projects kids have brought home from school, etc.  We have a local area Facebook group where people post things to buy and sell, like Craigslist.  I’m planning to take pictures of everything and post them on the site.  If they’re not worth selling, we can put them out on the curb for free.  I put clothes out for the Epilepsy Foundation recently, along with a doll cradle complete with doll & clothes.  Someone stopped by and picked up the doll cradle for themselves.  I call that blessing others with what we no longer need.

There are people like my dad who want to keep everything, including things that no one else will want even for free!  I think the rule is that if you haven’t used it in 5 years, it’s likely you’re not going to.  I’m having to decide that we can throw things away if no one will ever use it.  What I do is put things out for free.  If no one else wants it, I can feel free to throw it.  We got rid of some things last year when we had a roof redone and had an industrial sized garbage bin in our driveway.  I feel bad about what’s going into the landfill.  Then I firm up my resolve not to bring anything into the house that we don’t truly need.

I’m FLYing with the FlyLady – babysteps.

I get daily e-mails from  She is very encouraging and gives daily missions and monthly zones.  You build routine, babystepping your way to a peaceful, organized home.  The other day the FlyLady said that a mother duck does not make her ducklings follow her.  She takes the lead and they get in line and follow.  Once the family sees the changes happening, they are supposed to get in line with it too.  I live in the hope that my children and husband will pick up the routines so we can all make it part of our daily life.

So far, cleared surfaces are staying clear.  My worst “hot spot” is my desk where papers collect, but I’m clearing that more often too.   Every little bit makes a big difference.  It makes the rest easier, just seeing the progress.  Having the accountability of posting my progress makes a difference for me too.  I feel like I have to do at least 15 minutes of something that I can post.  Someone could be seeing it even if they don’t comment.  It would be great though to have someone who is posting their progress also, so we can keep each other accountable.

Asparagus & black beans on rice – something I accomplished today

My flight plan today:  I dropped off my youngest for the bus to summer school, then had some breakfast and took a 20 minute walk.  Walking is a goal I had made that I haven’t done very well at.  By the time I checked e-mail and talked with the insurance company about tween DD’s upcoming surgery (more on that to come), it was time to pick her up from summer school and whisk her over to her baritone lesson.
Following baritone lesson, all 3 kids registered for 4-H projects at our local Extension office, followed by lunch at home.  Tween DD Emily and I visited neighbors down the street with little girls that we wanted to get together – an important goal for Emily who doesn’t have many neighborhood friends.    Then DS off to TaeKwanDo , supper at Godfather’s buffet, off to watch DH’s softball game, then home to get Emily to bed so she can get up for summer school again in the morning.
So did I accomplish my Flight Plan for today?  I needed to make SWAPS for our upcoming CHASA retreat for families of children with hemiplegia, and I wanted to clear the bench by my desk that is becoming a “hot spot”.  Neither of these things happened.  I did accomplish things that needed to happen – yes!  Going to have to work fast  tomorrow to make the real Flight Plan fit into my day!  It will work!  Even though the only change between today’s and tomorrow’s schedules is that teen DD has an oral surgery appointment instead of tween DD having a friend meet and greet.  Oh, no TKD either.  Okay, it will work!

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