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Archive for April, 2009

Students

I’m really enjoying my class so far this term – all of the students are really into the topic and since there are only about 20 of them, I am managing to stay on top of the grading without too much difficulty. 

But on Thursday 6 of them didn’t show up and one snuck out during the break. Three of them wrote me later to apologize and explain (when they sent along their paper topics, but still…) but I was annoyed. I know the weather is getting nice but a lot of their grades are based on participation. Plus it was some of my more talkative students who were absent so the discussion dragged a little bit.

So it is OK. This time.

Grrrr… .But they’d better not make a habit of it..

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Progress report, of sorts, on efforts to declutter and do some basic home (re)ordering…

Living Room (aka the Toy PURGE)

In addition to the big bookshelf re-org, SG and I cleared out about 50% of the toys (maybe more) in the livingroom/play area. My parents bring them over, Buddy receives them as gifts and hand-me-downs, and they just seem to proliferate on their own. In any case I took a boatload of crap down to my office and yesterday and today (in an attempt to get my office under control – more on that later), I sorted through them. The smallest pile was made up of toys to hold on to for when he gets a little older or to bring up when we need a fresh or “new” toy. The next pile – a great big box – went back to mom and dad (I put it in the back of my mom’s minivan this morning). The rest I put into bags to take to Goodwill. 

I also brought up some clear storage containers from the basement and sorted out the remaining toys into bins. Big legos, medium legos (he’s still not ready for the regular/little legos), train tracks, “buses” (his word for all vehicles), and animals. Right now the stuffed animals hold court on the back of the couch and although it is not very sophisticated, it works because he does play with them a lot and it is nice for him to be able to locate and retrieve “white bear” or “brown moose” or “boots bear” or whichever of his plush citizens is in favor at the moment.

That’s about it for the moment. I’ve also made some progress on the kitchen and dining area, but I hope to do some more this week and post some photos. In any case, my slow – glacially slow – battle to organize our lives is progressing….

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Teaching+Being Sick = UNorganized Homemaker

And let’s not forget that being a homemaker is not my primary job. Unfortunately, no one besides me (and SG) is going to do it, and the lack of organization in my home life continues to plague me. Plus no one is forcing me to undertake this experiment, so I should stop whining and just get to it.

So let’s return to the chipper world of Deniece S and her organized home and family (hmm, that sound sarcastic…or bitter. I’m not really either, maybe just feeling a little inadequate).

Truth be told I’ve been skipping around a bit in the book, thinking about different aspects of home organization and family management, so this installment is not quite as methodical as the previous ones.  

To start with, I was working my way through the core principles, which include decluttering and grouping which I discussed in my previous posts. The next is. 

Be Motion Minded

Here Mrs. S (as I like to think of her) sings the praises of Taylor and workplace efficiency experts, which makes me a little suspicious in that Taylorism and the rigid systems it has inspired have caused a great deal of de-skilling and de-humanizing of the workplace in the last century. However, setting aside the issues of alienation from one’s labor for the moment, her principles in terms of home organization are sound and reading the specific recommendations reminded me of a visit to the Cooper-Hewitt Museum of Design in NYC at a time when they were having an exhibition on designing the home for accessibility and ease. In this exhibition there were two kitchens – a “big” one and a closet (NYC apartment sized) one that had been designed by students at the Rhode Island School of Design. The kitchens were designed in such a way as to minimize lifting and stooping and to be honest, they kind of blew my mind. There is, of course, no reason why the standard tall fridge, stovetop with oven underneath, and high and low cabinets must be the model for most kitchens, but because they are I had never been able to conceptualize anything differently. Mrs. S., I suspect, would be very intrigued by this project, and that suspicion makes me suspect that she and I might have some common ground after all.

  1. First she advocates storing items at or near their point of first use. Seems obvious but actually takes some thought. Based on this idea, SG and I have a plan for our kitchen and dining area that, once we get around to it, should improve the flow of the two rooms and keep us out of the other’s way (the kitchen is very small and is basically the hallway between the front and back of the house).
  2. Second, she argues that it makes sense to store things in such a way that you do not have to take many steps to retrieve the items you need and complete your task. Honestly, while there is always room for improvement, there is nowhere in our house where one must take many steps to retrieve anything! 
  3. Third, she is a fan of one motion storage – particularly for items that you use a lot. This principle makes a lot of sense to me and I’ve tried to put this principle into effect in both the bedroom and the living room – particularly when it comes to Buddy’s toys and clothing.

More on the “groundwork” of decluttering and re-ordering the house in the next post.

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Tuesday, nap time. Buddy is still in his jammies after a busy morning playing with nana at our house. He’s sacked out on “the big bed” – the place he dreams of sleeping all the time. He is, however, always denied this dream at bedtime – poor kid!

I did get almost everything done for my class but yesterday morning I came home after dropping Buddy off at daycare and went back to bed for a couple of hours. Such is the price for staying up until 12:30 am writing a lecture for class (not to mention grading – oh the humanity). Staying up so late really doesn’t work if you have to get up between 3-4:30 and convince your toddler to go back to sleep until 5:30 or so. 

Tuesday is no day care so this morning was a lost cause work-wise. Buddy and I did some painting and then spent some time playing hide-and-seek in the “big bed” amongst all the pillows. 

Tomorrow however, I will do my (at least) an hour’s worth of work on the diss first thing in the morning. Which means that tonight I need to finish the discussion handout and preview the films I got from the library. I can’t believe how fast this month is going. I’m feeling that familiar sense of panic in my stomach – it is always there but now it is stronger. I’m coming to realize that I need to finish the diss not only to get a job, but because I want to know what it is like to not have this constant feeling of dread and low-grade panic with me all the freaking time. I’m coming to the conclusion that I will have no peace in my life until it is done.

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OK. Last ones. And I will stop daydreaming and get back to grading.

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Ahem, yes. Well as I mentioned in my last post, this has been one hell of a week. But back on task. So far I have been working on discipline and working through the issues posed in that chapter. Here’s her definition of discipline:

Discipline refers to your ability to maintain consistent, productive behavior….Sure everyone has an ‘off’ day. If you are self-disciplined, however, you exhibit consistent focus in your day-to-day work, even if you don’t feel like it.” (pg.99)

And here are the sub-issues (so far) that I need to focus on:

  1. Finding and working with my natural energy cycles (difficult with a two-year old who insists on getting up at 5:15 am EVERY DAY!)
  2. Work regularly – stop putting things off until the last minute.
  3. I need to determine my priorities and make time FIRST for what really matters.
  4. I need to make my home office a place where I can effectively work without interruption.
  5. I need to have a better handle on the basics of everyday life and handle routine tasks around the house in a more efficient way.

OK, the first three are related. Partly it is an issue of energy, partly it is a sense of constantly feeling overwhelmed, slightly panicked and not at all up to the task, and partly it is just sheer boneheaded procrastination & laziness.

The cure is obvious – regular work on the diss that must take priority over everything else. So for this (next) week the plan is that for the days that Buddy is in daycare (including the days I teach), I will work for AT LEAST an hour first thing in the morning on the diss. Committing to that means that in turn I will need to be ready to teach on Monday morning – lecture and slides ready, film reserved, papers graded, so the priority for the weekend is teaching prep.

Non- daycare days are more difficult. I wish that I could just take one day completely “off” and maybe I should, so maybe that day should be Tuesday. If I have help on that day (from mom for example), then Tuesday will be the day in which I take care of all the little household crap that needs to get done and the errands like going to the post office and so forth. Weekends I have help from SG so I will need to work, but as I mentioned it may have to be on teaching although if things go well next week I will try to commit to at least an hour on both Saturday and Sunday to working on the latest chapter.

Similarly the last two are related. My office is a disaster zone. Tomorrow’s task is to dig out. Today I worked on getting the house into better shape. The linen closet still needs to be cleaned, as does the pantry, and my closet needs to be sorted. Furthermore SG and I need to sit down and figure out a plan for the weekend and for the week so we can be more on top of things. All of these issues are items that I am trying to tackle in the second book on being an Organized Homemaker extraordinaire!

Finally, I will make a sign – maybe a revolving wheel – outlining my status. Something like “Do NOT interrupt me unless there is a serious emergency,” “Do not interrupt me without 5 minutes warning,” “Interrupt me if you must” and “OK, I’m bored, come in and talk to me.”  We can see if that helps SG manage his interruptions better and creates more peace between us.

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What a week. Here are a few photos of where I would like to be transported right now. Fairy Godmother, are you paying attention?

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