Monday, July 30, 2007

#21 Clean off the top of the Dryer

This is one of those small things that only took a few minutes but it looks so big because the stuff is just so miscellaneous that you don't know where it can from or where it should go to. The top of the dryer in my house tends to collect a variety of...junk. It was always very annoying because I could never use it to put things (like clothes) while I was trying to use the laundry room for useful purposes. So, it is now flat and clear. Well, it was until my husband oulled clothes out of the dryer and left some on top of it's invitingly clear surface...

Monday, July 23, 2007

#20 Read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Ahh, the book I've been preparing for the several weeks and the one I've been looking forward to for years. With book and snacks in hand I departed my house after church on Sunday for my Mother's Day gift in order to fully enjoy a day to immerse myself in a book without needing to attend to anything at home. Many thanks to Laura who allowed me the use of her home as a crashpad while she's on vacation so that I could read in uninterrupted peace. So as not to spoil the book for those who haven't had a chance to read it, suffice it to say that it was fantastic right up through it's nail biting conclusion. My hat is off to you, J.K. Rowling.

Friday, July 20, 2007

#19 Open a 529 account for my 14-month-old daughter

My apologies for the out of order blog postings. I had written a post and then forgotten that I had written it and wrote another so I just changed the title of the first and posted it expecting it to be posted afterwards but no such luck. They are apparently posted in the order you write them, not in the order they are published. What's up with that!?!

This is one of those things that I knew I needed to do but just hadn't gotten around to doing yet. I especially knew that it needed to be done after I read earlier this year that the tax benefits were permanently set. Two things held me back. One, we don't have a lot of money, and two, there are so many 529 accounts out there, which one to choose? Well, we finally picked one, filled out the paperwork (I filled out the paperwork), picked the investment and sent some money that her grandparents and great grandparents had already given her over the last year so that it could start earning some real money. Now, once I start earning an income, we should be able to start putting money in regularly as well.

#18 Read 2 "What's going to happen in book 7 books"

Yep, I am truly prepared for my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to wing itself to me today. I even have a crash pad prepared to disappear to on Sunday while I read the book in peace, minus the baby, the husband, and the household chores. My Mother's Day gift at last. :)

Back to #3 Get a job

And finally after months of tirelessly checking websites, going to interviews and fruitlessly pounding the pavement, I finally have a job. It isn't exactly what I imagined when I set out to get a job but it is a job and I am really looking forward to it. I am now a high school ESL teacher. When I set out on this quest, I really wanted an elementary school position but any positions are few and far between in my county right now so I found it difficult to find anything full-time, much less full-time and elementary. I thought perhaps I would end up in a middle school again, where I had done a large chunk of my student teaching, but instead, I ended up in a high school where I have never taught. AAACK! This could be interesting. Fortunately, I have taught middle school and, frankly, I think they're scarier than high schoolers. I was also planning on a full-time position and instead I got a part-time position that might turn into a full-time position if the 10 day enrollment numbers hold. So much for my planned stability. But, I am extremely happy with the school, my co-teacher is fantastic and I think it will be a wonderful experience all around. It just goes to show you that, if you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans. He must have be rolling on the floor...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

...And we're back! #17 Read Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Well, I've been out of town at a wedding for several days so I didn't get a lot done on my list this last weekend. I even took several things with me but since Jim was in the wedding that meant that I had full charge of our daughter and she kept me hoppin'. I did at least get this book finished and I am now almost ready for the final book to come out. I also wanted to read two "What's going to happen in book 7" books and I have finished one of them so look for that in the next few days...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

#16 Tame kitchen desk clutter

Our kitchen desk has always been a bit of a sore spot for us. It is a very convenient horizontal surface right as you enter the house from the garage that regularly collects things like junk mail, newspapers, and just about any other detritus that enters the house. It is also where we have tried to keep the computers (two laptops) my cellphone and PDA chargers and about 10 other corded things. Basically, it's a mess. It's also dangerous for a very tall toddler who doesn't know any better than to grab onto things that hang and dangle (this, of course, is also dangerous for the computers). (Important note, the BEFORE pics were taken after the months spent working on the cabinets above the desk so the mess is not nearly as bad as it used to be. It used to literally be stacked up to two feet high with miscellaneous stuff.) So we spent several months coming up with new routines to deal with junk mail and receipts and whatnot and cleaning out the cabinets above the desk. Then, in the last couple weeks, I ordered a magazine rack and a really cool desk valet charger (something that you wrap all your cords up into and then put the little electronics things on top of) and it is now regularly clear which is nothing short of a miracle. (Disclaimer, we actually finished this task a few weeks ago and it has collected a little bit of junk since then so I had to remove a few things to take the very nice AFTER pictures below. HOWEVER, it has improved so much that most of the stuff is truly temporary and takes only minutes to clean up instead of literally an hour of bulldozing.)



#15 Read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Okay, so I completely underestimated the pull of the Harry Potter books. I have read them before. Many times in fact. Still, however, when I finished book 4 on Sunday, I immediately had to dive into book 5 and spent 3 days reading it whenever Katie was sleeping, playing independently, or sometimes when she was eating (it's often boring to watch a toddler eat, or frustrating, better to do other stuff). I hadn't planned to finish it before we went out of town, in fact, I hadn't expected to start it until we were out of town and maybe read it while we were gone and finish it when we got back. Nothing doing. I read in every spare moment (even though I KNOW how it ends for heaven's sake!) and finished it Tuesday night. (I even started book 6 when I was supposed to be packing...) As a disclaimer, I am a really fast reader and I did sort of mentally skim over the stuff that I wasn't interested in reading again. Like Hagrid's story about his trip to the giants. It is the mark of a really good book, however, when you can get people to read it like that even when they've read it before.

#14 Read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Okay, I have now read all the way through books 1-4 and movies 1-3 in preparation for movie 5 and book 7. Only a little way farther...

Monday, July 9, 2007

#13 Make my marriage more of a priority in my life - sub task: go on a date with my husband

This one is a major category on my list with several sub tasks, including going on several dates with my husband. In the 13 months since our daughter was born we've gone out by ourselves a total of I think three times now, maybe four. That's really not so good. I've made it a goal in our daughter's second year of life to try to find more balance. We're past the frantic stage of new parenthood and it is time for us to start functioning more like a family. In my mind, a strong family starts with strong loving parents with a strong marriage that is separate from the kids. I don't want to lift my head in 20 years when my kids all leave for college and look at the other person in the room and say "Who are you?" Our kids will benefit from us having a strong and loving marriage that doesn't always include them. So, to that end, I have enlisted Laura's support to trade regular date nights and we went out on the town on Saturday. We even managed to spend two hours not talking about either our daughter or the house reorganization. (Hurray!) Hopefully, you'll see this task recur a few times before my 45 days are up.

#11 Clean out middle drawer in Master Bath, #12 Clean out cabinet under Jim's sink in Master bath

The overarching project that I started last week with my cabinet and drawers in our bathroom is now complete! I have cleaned out and organized the middle shared drawer in our master bathroom and put in some organizer compartments and put the remaining stuff back in an organied fashion. In addition, I helped Jim clean out and organize the cabinet under his sink and we both cleaned out our smaller individual drawers as well. It took much longer to organize his cabinet than it would have if I had been doing it on my own (because I had a plan on how to do it already) but hey, I didn't actually have to do all the work and it still got knocked off my list. As Laura says, working smarter, not harder. :) All of this cleaning and organizing meant that we were able to remove everything that was extraneous on the counter and the ledge of the bathtub and either throw it away or put it away (with room to spare I might add) making our bathroom much more toddler friendly. We also got a medicine box from One Step Ahead so that we could put the medicines in it that need to be on the bathroom counter but there is another layer of protection to keep our daughter safe.

Friday, July 6, 2007

#10 Start Emergency Savings CD ladder

Jim and I are compulsive savers and particularly interested in having lots of money to retire with. I am actually a bit of a closet fanatic about retirement savings and personal finance and read everything I can find on the topic (that isn't extremely boring). To that end, we have spent a lot of time since we've been married learning about saving for retirement and actually saving for it. Over the last 5 years, however, we have paid more attention to saving for retirement and less attention to some of our closer to home needs, like an emergency fund. With the birth of our daughter and some unexpected expenses (including Jim losing his job while I was 5 months pregnant and in the middle of a Master's degree), we found ourselves with large retirement portfolios but very little liquid cash. That is not an experience that we would ever like to repeat. To that end, we recently decided to open a money market fund, specifically for emergency savings (which I opened a couple weeks ago) and a CD ladder. We will create the CD ladder by opening one 5-year CD each year for the next 5 years. They'll mature in July so that, any emergency that used up money in the money market would also have more funds coming available soon. We don't have enough money right now to put the full amount in the CD that we want to but we put something. In the meantime, we are putting a regular amount of money every month into the money market account and next year, we'll be able to be closer to the amount we want to put in to next year's CD and we can beef up this current CD when it matures in 5 years. Emergencies, we're almost ready for you.

(Disclaimer: I really did this on Friday since that is when the bank is open but decided to post it on Saturday so I could look like I'm doing something everyday. ;-) )

#9 Put up picture in Living room

A couple of months ago I bought a picture of sorts (really a framed quote) that I really liked that I just happened across at Target one day. We decided that we should put it in the living room because we have two recliners there that we like to sit in and read or use the computer and we'll be able to see it a lot. It says "Make time for the quiet moments as God whispers and the world is loud." This is something that Jim and I, in our constantly busy lives need to remember. To take a moment and listen for the ever present voice of God in our lives that so often gets drowned out by other things. Now, I am embarrassed to say that I am the kind of person who buys stuff like this, pictures and whatnot, puts in on the floor by the wall where it is supposed to hang and it sits there...for a veeeeery loooooooong time. Years sometimes. I am happy to say this one only sat a couple of months (I did buy it right before I started the rest of my Master's degree, so maybe I have an excuse for putting it off). Now I can't decide if it's off center. :)

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

#8 Read Harry Potter books 1-3

With Harry Potter book #7 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows due out later this summer (July 21st), I decided that it was important to reread the first 6 books in preparation for this momentous occasion. This task was three collapsed into one since the first three books are relatively short and I am a fast reader. Books 4, 5 and 6 will all be their own task. Incidentally, I have ended up watching the movies as I finish each book. Now I've watched 1 and 2 while reading 2 and 3 and I need to watch 3 while I am reading 4. That will set me up to watch the new movie Goblet of Fire (#5) due out next week while I am reading book 6. After I finish reading book 6, I also purchased 2 of the "what's going to happen in Harry Potter 7" books. I figure that this is one of the only times in history that there is so much hype and expectation so I will enjoy the anticipation until I actually have Harry Potter 7 in my hands. Now the question will be, when will I actually get a chance to read Harry Potter 7? I read #6 in 12 hours, from 9am-9pm in one day. (It was really good!) For Mother's Day this year, I asked Jim to give me one free day/weekend to disappear and read Harry Potter. It won't be immediately after the release but, hopefully, it won't be too long after. Now, where to go... ;-)

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

#6 again and #7 Get the house powerwashed

Okay. I have officially finished #6 as I picked up the stacking basket that I needed from Space Savers today. It's beautiful. See the picture below.

I also slaved over the house yesterday. Last week I mightily picked up the phone and called Murco to come and powerwash out house. They complied and our house has been returned to it's wonderful blue-grey with white trim instead of grey-grey with brown trim that it's been for the last many many years. You are supposed to powerwash houses with vinyl siding like every 3 years. We've done it maybe once in 8 years (maybe twice but I can't be certain). They even scrubbed our gutters. :)

Monday, July 2, 2007

#5 Box up Baby clothes, #6 Clean out the Cupboard

I am very proud of myself this weekend. I got quite a bit done. In addition to a lot of regular housework, I also got most of #5 and #6 off of my to do list done. I say most because neither is 100% finished.

I have a lot of baby clothes that Katie has outgrown. Some of it that I didn't want to keep for whatever reason I just gave to the Goodwill but some of the stuff I want to keep in case our next child is a girl (and to use some unisex pieces for a boy). It has been piling up on the bed and dresser in the guest room for awhile. I originally thought that I would just put it in under the bed boxes that are now mostly empty under the guest bed but someone suggested using diaper boxes and boxing up the clothing by size to put in the attic. That way, you only pull out what you need periodically. I thought this was a great idea but found it to be harder than it seems. Baby clothing is not all standard sizes so something marked 6 months in one brand fit at the same time the 9 month stuff fit of another brand or the 3 month clothing of a 3rd brand. I wanted to put like size clothing together so that I could pull it out together but I had trouble deciding what all went together. I have put together two boxes, a newborn kit with all the swaddling blankets and 0-3 month and 3-6 month clothing, and a box with 6 month clothing. It's not quite finished because I need to label the boxes and go through the clothing in her dresser and closet for outgrown stuff before I close the boxes. But it's mostly done. :)

I also worked very hard this weekend cleaning out the cupboard underneath my sink in our master bathroom. It needed it. It was disgusting and we need to store a lot of things there. I tossed a ton of stuff and it, as well as one of my drawers, are now beautifully organized and arranged. I now only need one more stacking basket from Space Savers to finish. The downside? As I moved things to more appropriate areas (like the middle drawer, the linen closet, and underneath Jim's sink) I noticed how desperately messy those spaces were. Oh well, one thing off and three more on...