Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Laundry Logistics

I remember it well.
We brought home our third baby and the laundry seemed to quadruple overnight.

I was so naive.

Enter the fourth, fifth-seventh, and eighth- twelfth children and...
the laundry fiasco consumes my life.

Kids pile clothes in gender-specific baskets by the washer and dryer, teens not included (they do their own laundry). I wash clothes multiple times per day, dry, take them out of the dryer and put into a basket to be folded. Lots of times I bring the baskets to the living room and declare it a "folding party" and get all the kids to help fold clothes really quickly, which means I find girls jeans in the boys piles and boys pajamas mixed into the pink silky stuff. These piles get sorted by bedroom and I either put them away myself or delegate that to the kids, which results in multiple mornings of "moooommmmm.... I can't find jeannnnnssssss!!" when I know they are clean, but not put away correctly. This part makes me insane. When you have 3 boys in a 8-10 and they share a closet, you'd think it would be easier to find ONE pair of jeans that fit one of them. You would be wrong.

So... one day, I had asked the kids to clean their play room ONE TOO MANY TIMES which resulted in a version of "clean" that looked like this:

Clearly not okay.

I mean, I'm not the most organized person on the planet... (dear husband: stop laughing.)
but I had organized bins and labeled containers for everything to get put away in the right place. 
I had made this easy on them - they CHOOSE to be lazy and not do it the right way.

So... I did what any logical, calm, thinking person would do.

I totally flipped out and pulled EVERYLASTSINGLESTINKINGTOY out of the playroom into the entry and started bagging them up like garbage.

Uh huh. I do that too. Oh, you thought it was just you? Nope. I have the patent on freaking-out-mommy-ism.

Then I decided I was repossessing this room. They can't have it and not take care of it... space is at a MAJOR premium in this house and I'm not dealing with THAT kind of mess on the main level, right by the front door. Nope. Done.

So I went around and assessed the clothing situation. 
Again, for your viewing pleasure...

 I'm so not kidding. These were all taken in a matter of 10 minutes. This was not staged for some dramatic blog purpose. These are actual rooms/hallways/closets IN MY HOUSE! I can't physically stay on top of this mess. It's impossible for one person. Not possible. IMpossible. I have other things to do besides laundry... like cooking for 14 people multiple times a day. Sheesh.

So... my social worker and I were talking that day (not about laundry specifically) and she said "you know, your complaints are never about the kids, or about behaviors, or about the noise... it's always the mess. You need a helper."

Well, I thought about that... and since I'm a major introvert/private type person and the thought of having someone come help me clean up my house causes me to break out in hives with a rapid heart rate and breathing abnormalities... I decided instead that I'm TAKING MY HOUSE BACK, dadgummit!!

So... the logical conclusion was to move ALLLLLLLLLL those baskets of clothes into the play room, ahem... "kids closet"... and begin to sort, box up wrong sizes and wrong seasons, and put things into size order by child - not by number. I have a 6 year old who can wear the same size as our 4 year old, and two 7/8 year old boys who wear basically the same size except one has more trunk space than the other and therefore the same jeans don't work with both of them. 

More pictures:

I had found some shelves up in the attic that were previously in the closets and above the laundry area before my husband did his awesome built-in cubbies. I used those and had to buy one more long shelf and some brackets... which was not very much expense for the whole project.
Dremels are awesome. 

Level. Uh huh. Awesomeness.

Half of the room... bookshelf that still has toy-room remnants. That was quickly fixed.
View of the center of the room - windows. I added benches for shoe-application.

Right side of the room... boy's side.

 After I put up these shelves, I spent a day just admiring the cleanness of the room. No chaos, no piles of junk, no stepping on Legos... it was nice. The next morning... that came to an abrupt halt.

I brought ALLLLLLL the clothes to the room and bought every child-size hanger at the Everything's-a-dollar store. Every. Single. Hanger. 

I wish I had a better size comparison for this. Some sort of scale.

This pic is a little better. The red bin is a large storage rubbermaid tote.

 So, I started sorting. A pile for "out-of-season", a pile for "won't fit anyone next season" and a pile for "stained to embarrassing levels" and two piles of "keep-wearing now", one on the boys side of the room, the other on the girls side. This was fast. It was furious. It was decisive and cleansing.

After that was done, I started sorting the girl piles. One for the younger girls (who thankfully wear the same size) and one for the older girls (who also wear the same size). I sorted them into full outfits - skirt/leggings/top, pants/turtleneck/sweater, dress/leggings. I left some jeans by themselves and some tops by themselves for those days they want to choose an outfit for themselves. I put the outfits on the top hanging rod and the single items below. I sorted and folded pajama sets together. I put undies into two bins - 4T and 6X. I made a bin of socks and I put things I think they may grow into very quickly on the top shelf. DONE!

I moved to the boys clothes piles and did the same thing, except I didn't make "outfits". I sorted pants from tops, divided by size and type, and put everything on hangers. I have two small open dish pans for t-shirts, one for athletic pants, and one for dress pants that they ALWAYS try to wear to school. (That one went up high.)

I bought more dollar-store dish pans for shoes. They slide right in under the boys' clothes racks and I labeled them by person. I have yet to hear "I can't find my shoes" at 7:58 on a school day since.

Here are some mostly-complete version photos:

girl side taken at night... weird lighting.

Boy side - it was dark when I took this, too.

You can sort of see the bins in these last two pictures. The bins on the middle shelf above on the left are extra leggings and tights by size. On the bottom are dressy shoes, but those got moved up high and pajamas took those bottom two shelves. The undies are in the blue buckets. 

My next problem was that those french doors to this room... well, they don't exactly help me hide my new organizational heaven from those who come to visit and who might not understand the decor.

So... my friend Shauna reminded me of these french doors I had seen online covered with maps... and I just happened to have a giant stack of old National Geographic maps...
so I used a few of the less-popular ones and covered the windows! Now there's privacy, cute design, and I can shut the doors when we have company and not worry about them wondering why I have 9 kids worth of clothing in what used to be the office (that turned into the playroom).

The picture on the left, you can see bags...those are gone now. I was unpacking from our trip!  

Oh, and I left the TV in there...
so I can still use this room as a quiet retreat for a few littles if need be!

P.S - what happened to their toys? Well, the room I created in their bedrooms by removing all the clothes left nice cubbies and organized spaces to put crates of toys! Now the boys can sit in their bedroom and play legos or the girls can go build their doll house and play tea party in their bedrooms without bumping into each other and dragging the tiny parts all over the entry way and into the dining and living rooms. Amen.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

That three-question thingy

(this post isn't funny. there are no pictures. it's not about my kids. sorry.)

I am fairly certain I've written before about my three-question test to try to determine if a path you are considering is God's Will for your life.
It's presumptuous, I know...
but I think when you're dealing with something like free-will and you're a Jesus-loving person trying to discern God's Will when it's not spelled out to the letter in Scripture... you need some kind of road map.

Thus was born...the Three-Question Test.

 (a recap for those who missed that post... and since I can't find it...)

Before you get all legalistic on me... I'm talking about big decisions in your life... the ones you pray about and spend hours pondering, make pro's and con's lists about, the ones that keep you up at night. These are the things we are talking about here... not "which flavored syrup to add to my latte". Got it? Okay.

1. Do I have scripture to back it up one way or the other? I believe that this forces you to open up your Bible, check the concordance, read scripture, allow it to permeate your soul, and breathe deeply the Word of God the Father.

2. When I pray about it, do I feel peace?
The Holy Spirit inhabits the very inner workings of Christ-followers.
He can NOT lead you astray and like the song says:
Kickin' it OLD SCHOOL with Newsboys....                                                         "It's just a spirit thing
It's just a holy nudge
It's like a circuit judge in the brain
It's just a spirit thing
It's here to guard my heart
It's just a little hard to explain
It pushes when I quit

It smells a counterfeit
Sometimes it works a bit like a teleprompter..."

 3. Would it PLEASE God? This requires you to know the heart of God through Jesus. I imagine myself sitting at His feet... going over choices and decisions with Him and I look up with exasperation in my eyes and say "but... would this please YOU, Lord?"
And if my answer is YES... well... what else is there?

My Three Questions always stopped there. 
I had my answer. 

Then recently I began to be bothered by something.

I think there should be an over-arching fourth question.

Now... hang with me. 
This is where my train of thought smashes a lazy cow standing in the middle of the tracks and keeps on going. Thump. Moo.

The fourth question... maybe a final thought on these big decision moments... 
What would bring God the MOST glory?
Maybe the answer isn't what you'd think. 
Maybe what would bring God the most glory would not make sense otherwise.

Sometimes God allows weirdness to take place to draw attention to us... to bring Him glory. 
(see family picture above)

Sometimes... we presume we know God's will, but we have not really considered what brings Him glory. 
Sometimes what brings Him the most glory alienates us from the common-sense crowd.
Sometimes He points us down a path that seems absurd... 
just so He can say "but do you TRUST me?"

I don't know if anyone needed to read this... or if it's just for ME... but I know that whenever I/we have had to try to make a big decision, this method of figuring things out has really helped bring me/us peace! 


Okay, I lied... one quick picture.
This makes me smile:

Friday, November 2, 2012

Words < Photos

Sorry... I know it's been nearly a month since I posted anything
(to the three of you who come to see if there's anything new to see here).

I do have things to say...
but at this time, I'm not sure how to say them.
I'm spending the month in daily thankfulness on Facebook...
so that's a nice way to keep my heart squared up nicely.
I'll combine those thoughts a week at a time and post them here to save them.

So... until I put some things into words... 
here is a quick snippet of what's going on around here!



which led to the death of
Sir Mix-a-Lot.

    Very sad.

One day my husband was cooking while I was not home and had trouble finding cinnamon. 
I wasn't thrilled.

So I spent some time reorganizing and did this:
Look at THAT! Cinnamon: row two, far right.

Last week, our 16-year-old got his license...
And ever since,
I've been handing over my keys.
However, if your kid can take and pass his driver's exam in a 15-passenger van...
I think he's a pretty well-qualified driver.
And super cool.
Way cooler than most other 16-year-old boys.

 This is leaving the DMV:

 And later that day...taking his sister out for free taco day at the 'Bell:

note terrified look on daughter's face.

Double checking... they thought I'd cry. Nope.  Pick up some TP on the way home.   

And I'm now officially old. Commence grey hair and dinner before 5pm.

 We spent a LOT of time at soccer...

 These boys make me smile:

 And we watched a lot of football:

And we watched soccer some more...

 And I found this Wonder Woman cape at a thrift store...I love it...

These two turned FOUR...

We played at the park...

and we acted all super-cool.

So, that's pretty much our October! 
I'll post something more thought-provoking soon... just organizing my words in my brain!
Happy November!