Monday, January 31, 2011


We are continuing our campaign against clutter in our house and also continuing to try to lose weight!

First, the clutter.  On Friday, we were able to rid our house of another car-full of stuff.  This time, it was donated to the preschool garage sale.  We're not attending that preschool anymore, since both the kids are now in elementary school, but it's still a good cause.  :)

We had spent the previous weekend getting rid of bunches of stuff from the kids' room and we finished up with it on Friday.  I had convinced Marxo that it would be OK to give away her pink kitchen to a friend's daughter by telling her that we would replace the kitchen with a couch for her and Fellan so they could hang out with their "peeps" in their room.

So, on Saturday, we headed off to IKEA to pick out a couch for them.  We ended up getting a couch that folds out into a bed so that when the kids have friends spend the night, we can unfold the couch.  Of course, we will have to physically pick up and move the couch out into the center of their room in order to accomplish this, but that's beside the point.  (I'll try to remember to take a picture tonight and post it tomorrow...)

And we continued our purging efforts yesterday with our room.  I cleaned out most of my dresser and we put together the console desk thing that's going to replace it.  We still have more to do on our room, but inch by inch, I can feel us getting closer to having an organized house.

On the weight-loss front, we've determined that it's really horrible to weigh-in on Monday mornings.  I'm up 2 pounds from my Thursday morning weigh-in.  But, in general, I'm still heading in the right direction.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Engineers = Social Ineptitude

So, I'm an engineer and every day I spend the entire day around other engineers and I've got to tell you - in case you didn't know - engineers are generally just socially inept.  I try not to be, but I'm sure some people think I'm a little 'off'.

However, I swear I'm not as bad as one guy who sits in my cubicle bay.  We have sort of an open-office layout where four cubicles make one "bay" with no walls between us.  There are currently three of us in the bay - two women and one man.

On Monday, I walked into our cubicle bay just in time for the guy in our bay to have a loud, obnoxious sneezing fit.  At least he was sneezing down towards the floor, but there was no effort to cover his mouth at all.

This sneezing and coughing continued for the next two and a half days and I felt really sorry for the woman who sits right next to him.  She's pregnant, but in her first trimester, so she hasn't told everyone about it and he just kept sneezing and coughing all over her!  It's a miracle that she hasn't gotten sick yet.  Yesterday she and I both felt a little under the weather, but we seem to be doing better today.  We've been popping Vitamin C pills like they were Tic Tacs.

Since I wasn't feeling all that great yesterday, I took it very easy during my lunchtime workout.  I think that was a good idea because today, I feel great!  I rode the bicycle trainer for almost an hour and lifted weights like a maniac.  I'm on a workout-related endorphin overload this afternoon.  :)

This morning was also a weigh-in day for the husband and me.  I've been having a hard time forcing myself to watch what I'm eating every day - I keep cheating throughout the weekends!  So I decided to make us a weigh-in schedule and include our goal weights for the next three months.  We have to weigh ourselves every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday and record the damage.  :/

According to the scale this morning, I have until Monday to lose one more pound.  Which, unfortunately, will only get me back to my goal weight from Fatty's Weight Loss Challenge!  I'll have ten pounds to go from there to get to my final goal weight before the end of March.  The ultimate goal is to be lean and fit by the time I turn 40 in April!!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

First Sparring Tournament

This past weekend, the boy participated in his first sparring tournament in Tae Kwon Do.  It was just something that was put on by the place where the kids take Tae Kwon Do, so he was fighting against kids that he knows, but it was good experience and he seemed to like it.  We couldn't get the girl to try it.

In fact, she's been whiney and annoying for awhile now every time we go to Tae Kwon Do.  And she keeps saying that she doesn't want to do it, but then during class, she has an excellent time.  We're not really sure what the problem is, but we don't want her to quit and it's finally come to the point where we've told her that she's not allowed to quit until she gets her black belt.

Quitting was something that I just never considered when I was growing up.  If you started something you finish it.  I'm not sure how my parents instilled that quality in me, but it's something that I feel very strongly about.  And luckily, the husband feels the same way.

Some woman wrote a book recently about how Chinese mothers are superior and got an article published in the Wall Street Journal about it in the last couple of weeks.  When I started reading the article, I expected to hate it, but there was one thing I found that I sort of agreed with her about.  It was that, in general, non-Chinese parents allow their children to quit things too quickly and don't demand excellence from them.

When I was growing up, I took piano lessons and continued them even when my friends quit.  I continued in Girl Scouts and got my Gold Award even when all but one of my friends quit.  I continued doing lots of things even when my friends quit.  And in each case, there was a point when I did not enjoy what I was doing. But I continued because I just never thought I should quit something I started. And I was always rewarded by getting over that hump.

So I think that if a child doesn't learn to put in the work to achieve something, then s/he will never learn the satisfaction of earning the accomplishment.

Now, having said all that, I have to admit that we've fallen into the typical American life of over-scheduling our kids and maybe Marxo is just tired of always go, go, going.  We have something planned for every night but one per week.  Swimming lessons, Tae Kwon Do, and Gymnastics.  And we're debating about whether to enroll the boy in baseball this coming season.  We skipped soccer last fall so that we wouldn't have something controlling every Saturday's schedule, but Fellan specifically said that he wanted to play baseball and have me be the coach again (last year, I was an assistant coach for his tee-ball team and I guess he thought that was pretty cool).  The thing is, he doesn't pay attention and doesn't really show much interest in actually playing the game.  But, I'm afraid that if he ever does want to play in the future, that he'll be missing out somehow by not playing and developing his skills each year.  (which is sort of crazy to think about - he's only 7 years old, for goodness sake!)

Anyway.  Here's a picture that Marxo took of Fellan in his sparring gear on Saturday.  At least she enjoyed being the photographer of the day.  :)

First sparring tournament!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Garage Alcove

I always thought that hiring a professional organizer to help us do something we could do ourselves was sort of a stupid idea.  Until I was so enraged by the clutter that I just didn't care anymore.

It has been a very good thing for us.  It's forcing us to really deal with all the crap in our house and get our "homework" done each week.  We're now being held accountable to someone else, as well as to our wallet!

The other reason I feel good about paying someone else to come into our house and tell us things like, "I should just shoot you now and put you out of your misery." (seriously, she said that to us...  right after we told her that we actually take our pile of accumulated mail on vacation with us so that we can go through it all while driving across country.  And you have to admit, she's kind of got a point...) is because she took one look in our second-pantry-thing and said, "You need more shelves in here."  And then the next time she came back, she had three different types of shelving units and we chose which one should go in there and it's now a much better organized second-pantry-thing.

She also took one look into our garage-storage-alcove-thing and said, "You could fit some shelves back there."  And so we went and bought some cheap shelves from Lowe's and installed them.  And it's awesome.

Garage Alcove
This coming Friday, we asked the organizer not to come, though, so that we can spend the weekend purging all the stuff that has accumulated in the downstairs room.  We're also going to go through the kids' bedroom this weekend and purge a bunch of their old toys.  They're actually looking forward to it.  It seems de-cluttering and enjoying the feeling of clean is contagious.  :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sports Closet Re-Org

So, this past Friday's mission was to re-organize the "Sports Closet".  We used to have a bunch of coats that filled up the right-hand side of the closet.  However, after realizing that we live in Houston and we haven't had to open that side of the closet for the 12 years that we've lived in our house, we decided that space would be better used if we put up some shelves!  So, we partook of the Container Store's 30% off sale and bought ourselves some Elfa shelves and drawers.

The left-hand side, decluttered.

The right-hand side, shelf-i-cized.
The drawers were the things that we really wanted.  And they were almost half of the total price!  :o  But, I love them.  In one drawer, we have our bicycling gloves and bicycling headbands and in the other drawer, we have all the kids' hats, gloves, and scarves.  (They haven't figured out they live in Houston yet.)

Next up, pictures of the garage!  I know, how exciting!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

We both won something!

After our success in Fatty's Weight Loss Challenge, we posted our weights and waited to see if we won any of the fabulous prizes.

Turns out, we did!

The husband received an e-mail from Fatty saying that he had won something and that he should be on the lookout for something to come in the mail.  We were really hoping it would be the jersey signed by Levi Leipheimer, Lance Armstrong, and Bob Roll:

And we were secretly hoping that it wouldn't be one of the 100 Miles of Nowhere shirt because we would then feel obligated to actually do 100 miles of nowhere.

So on Monday afternoon, I got an e-mail from the husband, the text of which said, "Noooooo!" and this picture was attached...

Yep, looks like we'll be nursing some saddle sores soon.

At almost the exact same time as I got that e-mail from the husband, I got an e-mail from Performance telling me that I won one of the helmets!
(I haven't gotten the actual helmet yet)

Not bad for a little pain and suffering.  :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

On working out

I have always told my husband that I don't necessarily like working out.  (Really, I'm lazy at heart.)  But, I love the feeling of having worked out.  I love feeling the tiredness of my muscles and the after-burn in my lungs.

On Monday, I forgot my shoes and my toiletries which meant that I didn't work out at lunchtime.  I felt bad all day.  But for the last two days, I have been able to get my workout in.  And I feel great!

Also, I just have to make this observation:  Some people are a little possessive about their possessions.  Yes, that's redundant, but I've noticed that some of the people at my office fitness center bring their belongings from the locker room into the workout room.  Today, one woman had her bag hanging off the handrail of the treadmill on which she was running.

Ok, I admit that there are no locks provided for the lockers, but you are required to get special access added to your work badge to get into the place and there are really not that many people in the place to start with!  The thought never crossed my mind that my stuff wouldn't be safe in the locker room.  Call me naive, I guess, but I have no intention of hauling my crap around with me from one place to another in there.  Jeesh.

Monday, January 10, 2011

More organizing, no proof

This past weekend, we did some more organizing around the house, but I don't have pictorial proof this time.  You'll just have to take my word for it.

Actually, the house itself looks like all the closets barfed all over the place, but that's just because the pantry and the second-pantry-thing are now organized.  And we're getting ready to organize the sports closet (again).  We braved The Container Store yesterday and bought some Elfa shelves for our sports closet so that when the organizer comes again this Friday, we can work on getting it organized.

Actually, there's not a whole lot of "organizing" that needs to be done in the house anymore.  Most of what needs to be done now is PURGING.  Good thing the preschool garage sale is coming up and they're always in need of donations!

We did do one fun thing this weekend: on Saturday it was 67ºF and sunny, so we loaded up the bikes and headed out to Stephen F. Austin State Park for some mountain biking with the kids.  It was beautiful and we all had a great time.

I'm still managing to keep most of the weight off that I lost before Christmas, but I don't seem to be losing any as of late.  Apparently a little snack of cheese here and there will actually provide extra calories over time.  Huh.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Proof of (at least temporary) organization!

I'm really having trouble getting myself back into the swing of work after being out so long!  I haven't made it to work on time yet this week.  (well, that's only two days so far)

I was talking with a friend on Sunday and she mentioned how tired the kids looked.  I told her it was because I woke them up at 7:30 that morning to try to get them accustomed to "school time" again.  And then I mentioned to her how tired I was because of it also!  We had all quickly slipped into the stay-up-late-sleep-in mode during our winter break and got very used to lazing around the house all day.  So, during this particular conversation on Sunday, we coined a new phrase "Winter Break: All the jet lag of transpacific flight without the travel."  Ha!

Anyway, last night when I got home, I wandered into the living room and soaked in the peaceful calm feeling that accompanies a clean, organized space.  I can't get enough of it.  I'm really hoping this cleanliness will continue.

And after the kids went to bed, I went through and took some pictures of the wondrous sights.

(cue the angel chorus...)

The two shelves on the bottom of the bookshelf to the left of the fireplace is what we "reclaimed" from the kids and we added those storage ottomans.  Back by the stairs, you can make out the "Drawing Center" that we put together for the kids.  Here's a closer picture:

We managed to find some boxes that fit our existing shelves perfectly and then found the drawer unit that's sitting on top of it at the Container Store.  Now, what's really ridiculous is that everything there is chock-full of stuff.  The drawer unit has two drawers full of markers, two drawers of crayons, one drawer of colored pencils, and one drawer for miscellaneous stuff like scissors, glue sticks, etc.  But hey, it's organized and the kids can now find what they want and we never have to buy anything new for them again because this supply should last for the rest of their school days!  Ahhh... I can't wait to get home.  :)

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

A new, (hopefully) organized year

Let's see, last time we spoke, I was drooling over the Mexican food we were finally going to be allowed to eat after the weight loss challenge.  Ohhhh, it was GOOD!!!  We had Mexican food, Indian food, more Mexican food, not to mention the gluttonous Christmas and New Year's dinner and drinks.  It was like heaven.  But now, it's back to reality!  I've tracked my food for the day in my Livestrong MyPlate account and I'm back on the wagon.  I, of course, didn't keep the full 10 pounds off over the holidays, so I've got more work to do.  My goal now is to lose 15 pounds before the month of April.  Five pounds per month should be easy after losing 10 pounds in 3.5 weeks, right?  We shall see.

In other news, after my 11 glorious days off from work, we have a semi-organized house!  I'm kicking myself that I didn't take any "before" pictures just to show what a true PIT it was, but I'll take some "after" pics tonight.  It will at least Wow my parents and my brother - they know what it looked like before.  Yikes!

We managed to reclaim our bookshelves in our living room and bought some storage ottomans from Target in which to keep the kids' toys and things and act as a coffee table for the living room.  We also moved all the writing and drawing stuff over to a bookshelf that now sits beside a newly-fixed kid's table (it had been broken for something like three years after being used as a launching pad for some sort of Gymnastic/Tae Kwon Do aerial display) and created a drawing/project area for the kids.  Last night before heading to bed, we wandered around our living room and soaked in the peace that came from the cleanness.  It was amazing.

The organizer comes again on Friday this week.  She's going to be surprised, although I'm not sure she'll really be all that happy.  She had told us not to run out and buy the first thing we found to store our crap - and really, we didn't - so I'm curious to see how she'll react to our super-organizing effort over the holiday break.  I think we did a good job and since I'm the one who has to live there, that's really what matters.  :)

The next major project I think we'll attempt is re-doing our closet with an Elfa closet system.  We've decided we're sick of having dressers in our bedroom (I don't even use mine) and what we really need is a bookshelf and a desk-type thing for the husband to use in the middle of the night when he has to get up and take phone calls from the drilling rig.  I didn't necessarily want a desk in our room, however, so we ended up investing in one of these West Elm Console Desks over the weekend, too.  The hope is that with another one of those storage ottomans under the center part, it won't look toooo much like a desk.  We can't put it together yet, however, because my dresser is in the way...

Oh!  I almost forgot about Fatty's weight loss contest prize - the husband won one of the prizes.  We don't know which one yet, but something is supposed to show up in the mail in the next couple of weeks.  I'm excited to see what it turns out to be!