10 February 2011

Making changes

2011 appears to be declaring itself the year of home improvement.  With three kids, we are living in constant chaos and I feel like I go into cranky-mommy meltdown mode fairly regularly to try and restore some order.  There have been times in my life where home was basically a place to eat meals and fall asleep between hectic here-and-there-ing.  As a homeschooling mom, I am finding that we need our house to be a place that is more conducive to creating and learning and just plain old living.  I am reading Shelter for the Spirit:  How to Make you Home a Haven in a Hectic World by Victoria Moran.  This book was recommended in one of the sessions I went to at the homeschooling conference last spring and has turned out to be just the right book at the right time to make our space more livable.

Being in a rental, there are some things that just aren’t going to happen.  It makes no sense for us to invest time and money in making things more like we like them only to have nothing to show for them when we move out.  So, early last month, I went through our place, room by room to figure out what we need to live with and what changes we can make to make things work.  A few things clearly fall in the need-to-live-with category are the dishwasher and washing machine.  Each has significant personality issues and after several requests to the landlord are as fixed as they are going to get.  So if you could send a good word to the deity of your choice for them to die completely so the landlord HAS to do something, I would appreciate it.

So I have developed my big list which includes simplifying and reducing stuff where we can and getting the stuff we have better organized, as well as creating spaces for our living to happen.  There is also a whole category of things that I am doing to keep things that were a problem when we moved in from getting worse and quick and dirty cosmetic fixes I can do to make things look nicer.

100_2764So far, I have made a bit of progress in our upstairs bathroom and in the basement.  Most of the bathroom had crumbly caulk and clear evidence of mildew under the linoleum.  After fight the futility of trying to keep water inside the bathtub for too long, I finally got it fixed.  Really the lino needs to be replaced, with some work on the floorboards underneath, but I did the best I could to get everything sealed tight so we can have splashes without aggravating the problem.  We also finally replaced the light bulbs above the sink with CFLs.  The bulbs were gradually burning out and I didn’t feel the love for having two types of bulbs going on, so we waited until half of them were gone and then replaced them all.  It is now possible to see in the bathroom again.  Very exciting stuff.  Since I have my fancy pants white caulk, I will probably go in and recaulk the sink just so it looks better at some point, too.


The basement has also been getting my attention.  We spent the better part of a weekend planning out shelves.  We currently have a mish-mash of shelves and storage containers and have accumulated just too many toys.  So the first job was upgrading storage.  Since we don’t expect to be in this place forever, we decided that it made more sense to go with something modular that can be taken apart to be moved or to be repurposed.  We have some of these shelves in the garage, so we spent a weekend planning out how many and what size of shelves we wanted and had our pantry shelves put up a couple of days later.  Now I have a good place for canning supplies and equipment, as well as a place to keep the full jars.

We also mapped out shelves for the play area, but the end pieces had to be special ordered, so we didn’t get them until just last weekend.  I have been working on them since.  Putting the parts together is easy.  The shelves themselves, however are a bit fiddly.  The narrower shelves above only needed a chunk about 1” x 1/8” taken off the sides at both the front and back edge.  After having done the ones in the garage, I have gotten pretty good at whacking out what I need to with the Dremel.  And the pantry shelves have only two shelves with a grand total of eight corners, so it went pretty quickly.  However, the shelves for the toy area are taking longer.  For the wider shelves, the premade shelves we are using are a bit too wide, so in addition to the four corners, I also have to take 15/16” of the long edge.  I wish I lived closer to family members who have a table saw or a radial arm saw, but I have gotten pretty handy with my Skil saw, so I am working away.  The other part that is taking much longer is that there are seven shelves, so that means sawing off seven edges and shaping twenty-eight freakin’ corners.  I finished four of the shelves today.  The bad news, however, is the reward for finishing the other three is that the next job is going through all the toys and getting rid of everything that is broken and winnowing down things that don’t get played with.  It is very likely to be not pretty as neither Bug nor Bean parts easily with belonging.

I am once again hoping to get back into the habit of blogging, but I’ve made that promise before, so don’t hold your breath!


Namma said...

We wished you lived closer to family members with a table saw/radial arm saw, too...that would be us!

It sounds like you're making some good progress on your home organizing project. The toy-weeding-out job will be a big one. (How many boxes of toys did I keep unopened for approximately 20 years?? At least they were out of sight...and out of mind.)