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Christy Catherine Marshall

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March 31, 2006

I haven’t blogged about FlyLady in a few weeks because to be honest my email inbox has been on overdrive, and I haven’t been reading the FlyLady digest email. Does anyone else have an issue with email? I’ve created a monstrosity of folders in Outlook Express, so I’m trying to at least file email that comes in. And deleting a lot. But I’m a packrat about email the same way I’m a packrat about everything else. What if I delete something I might need again someday?

I’ve actually created a folder titled “High school people” because emails are coming in every day from people I haven’t heard from in 19 years. I love these people! I sat next to them in homeroom, we learned the names of the planets together, hung out every weekend together for over a decade, and grew up laughing at the same sitcoms on TV. So it’s fun to get back in touch — BUT! I’m also starting to get a steady stream of Mom 2 Mom-related requests. I guess because I signed up to be in some blog directories, like this and this.

Yesterday, I got a very professionally written request from someone offering to write me a women’s health column. She’s written for dozens of top national magazines — so why is she contacting me? I don’t have money to pay anyone for a column. Although it would be a great idea. But right now, Mom 2 Mom is just my simple little blog written by me — when the mood strikes. The only way I’d ever turn it into a magazine is if I had paid advertising. But even then, the thought of receiving and editing submitted articles, finding good writers and columnists, and keeping a cash flow coming in so I could pay everyone seems like a huge stressful nightmare for someone like me.

So back to FlyLady. At the end of every email digest, I read these two sentences: “You are not behind! I don’t want you to try to catch up; I just want you to jump in where we are. O.K.?” And then the FlyLady motto for this year: “Simple Routines Do the Trick in 2006!”

I need to stick to the very basics at this season of my life. It doesn’t take 20 minutes of having five kids home for spring break to let the Entropy Monster take over our home. I think in some homes dining rooms are used for dinner parties. In my home, my dining table is used for card tricks, origami, board games, coin sorting and admiring, stamp counting, art projects that involve popsicle sticks and hot glue guns, and LOTS of book-making that requires a steady flow of paper, crayons, and staples. Our kitchen is used for all food prep and consumption. The dining room is the only place my kids have a table to work somewhere together. It also happens to be the first thing you see when you walk in the door.

Along with the foyer. The hardwood floors here make the perfect spot for Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends to meet the Matchbox Car Friends and get into a pile-up together involving wooden blocks. Did I mention we don’t have a playroom? I know a friend who has a gorgeous basement playroom, and her rule is “No toys above ground level.” Her house is big and beautiful and always clean. She also said FlyLady changed her life. I wish FlyLady could come over and build me a basement playroom.

For now, I’m going to work on simplifying … today, we’re handing down the hand-me-downs. I told the girls about a family in our town whose house burned down, and the first grade little girl lost everything. A club I’m in is collecting clothes and toys for her. Suddenly, this very real sad situation has finally gotten them interested in passing along last year’s Christmas toys and outgrown clothes.

I think we should start the weekend a little bit lighter.

P.S. Here is why I’m afraid of Google Adsense! This is an actual ad I just read: “Christian Faith — Free to Join. 1000’s of pictures of Beautiful Christian Singles.” What if you came to my site and had to read THAT? I would quit blogging before I had that on my site!!!!!!!!!

February 17, 2006

A few of you have left comments that you’re learning to FLY or you have been for years. So, I got this GREAT idea — why don’t I compile a list of blogs from women like me who are also interested in FlyLady?

Do you have a blog where you talk about FlyLady? I’d like to visit whenever I need a fresh jolt of inspiration. Please leave me a comment, and I’ll work on compiling something to stay permanent in my sidebar.

We can encourage each other to stay on track with our routines — and offer plenty of grace and humor when life (and children!) get in the way of our perfectionism.

Where did I read this — somebody made a tape of a solid hour of rockin’ housecleaning music? The thought of 300,000 of us FlyBabies in our lace-up shoes and ostrich feather dusters — zipping around the house working and listening to music (with our timers ticking, of course) — just totally cracked me up! Send me some links! And maybe a blurb about why you love FlyLady or where we should look in your blog. (For example, if you have a Technorati tag or category somewhere so we’ll know where to look.)

Have a nice weekend. And remember that God loves you just the way you are — you’re not behind at all in His eyes!

P.S. This post will be ongoing — so anytime you happen to find it, you can add to it and I’ll update my permanent list in the sidebar.

February 3, 2006

I’m such a newbie to the whole FlyLady phenomenon that I didn’t even know she has official baby steps for those of us who are just starting out. Yes, there are 31 Beginner BabySteps. Here’s what she says:

Our FlyLady system is all about establishing little habits that string together into simple routines to help your day run on automatic pilot. You can do this!

I haven’t started any of these BabySteps (yes, one word) except for shining my sink and using a timer. I think if I did this system, I’d feel a lot less stress in my life because I wouldn’t be carrying around so much in my head — it’s clutter! If I set my to-do list down, it will get colored on — or stapled into a book. (My girls are really into making booklets these days. Wonder why!) So I keep way too much on my mind.

The other day I got behind AGAIN on my kitchen — if I only miss shining my sink after one meal, suddenly we have a huge pile-up. Seven people eating together at least two times a day — well, you get the picture. I got behind and started feeling overwhelmed about it.

But instead of moping, I just got my timer and set it to 20 minutes. I can do this for 20 minutes. That ticking sound was like FlyLady motivating me — and it worked. I got caught back up again!

Sometimes I imagine her like a much-needed cheerleader while I’m debating about whether or not I should throw something away. It’s like she’s telling me, “You can do it, girl! You just be brave and bold — and you throw that catalog away! That kindergarten workbook page from September– it’s okay. You can get rid of it now! You’re doing great!”

This physical work reminds me of what goes on spiritually as well. Keeping clutter cleaned out of your house is also like keeping sin cleaned out of your heart. It creeps back in if you don’t stay on it!

Do you ever feel that way? You work on an area and feel like you’ve made great strides, and you’re really growing closer to God. (You may even do a little bragging about it.) Then you stumble AGAIN! That same old sin creeps back in.

Same thing with clutter. You clean out a certain area and it looks great! Until a few days go by (or in homes with young kids, a few MINUTES…) We just gotta stay on it.

So here I am — admitting to you that I’m at the beginning of the Beginning BabySteps. Has anyone else been through this system before? How did it work for you?

January 13, 2006

I could hardly believe it when I found this picture the other day. Here she is! The real FlyLady. I read email messages from her all the time, so it’s great to feel like I’m actually getting to “meet” her. Her name is Marla Cilley — and she’s written several books, which I haven’t had a chance to read yet.

She is slowly changing my life. I was talking about her with one of my friends who said, “You know what I love about her is that she makes you feel good about yourself. She makes you feel like you’re NOT behind. Just jump in wherever you are.”

That’s true. I breeze through her messages every day, reading testimonials from people whose lives, homes, marriages, families have been totally changed — and I think: wow. People are motivated by positive words instead of criticism.

I don’t have time to email my testimonial, but maybe FlyLady will discover my blog. Anyway, here’s what she did for me this week. My kids started back in school, and…already, my toddler has brought home a stomach bug. A bad one. (A very contagious one…).

He discovered this during his afternoon nap. So, I had loads to wash. No problem — my laundry is caught up, thanks to FlyLady’s encouragement. We had some chaos over here that day, though. Despite the stomach bug, my son felt fine and kept moving around the house, playing, stopping a minute here and there to remind me he really was still sick. (Read: more wash for me to do.)

Now, normally, this would have sent me into a downward spiral. Overwhelmed. Frustrated. Exhausted. These words would have described me. But thanks to my mission to stick to my morning and evening FlyLady routines, I said to myself, “I can’t do everything. But I can keep my laundry caught up and my sink shiny.” (Well, my solid-surface sink is not really shiny, but it’s empty and clean.)

My week further proves FlyLady’s main point: morning and evening routines give you something stable to aim for, and when you’re thrown for a loop by something disheartening like a stomach virus, your house doesn’t have to fall apart. You ought to read some of these other people’s stories. They’ll definitely encourage you that you’re not behind.

January 11, 2006

We love Antiques Roadshow. It’s one of our favorites on PBS. I’ve always wondered how you can get on that show. Well, now that I’m privy to tons of press releases, I’ll pass this info on to you.

Maybe you’re storing a million-dollar masterpiece up in your attic. Find out. (Then sell it and do something interesting!)

From Philadelphia to Hawaii, ANTIQUES ROADSHOW will travel more than five thousand miles across America searching for hidden treasure this summer. PBS’s most-watched primetime series has announced its summer 2006 Tour destinations…Tour features a series of local events at which top appraisers offer the public free evaluations of antiques and collectibles — revealing the often surprising history and value of these items. The most interesting finds from each city will air in 2007.

ANTIQUES ROADSHOW 2006 stops and dates include:
Tucson, Arizona June 17, 2006

Salt Lake City, Utah June 24, 2006

Mobile, Alabama July 8, 2006

Milwaukee, Wisconsin July 29, 2006

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania August 5, 2006

Honolulu, Hawaii August 26, 2006

Admission to ANTIQUES ROADSHOW events is free, but tickets are required.

Ticketing rules and deadlines will be available online beginning March 13, 2006. Ticket holders are invited to bring two items for a free verbal evaluation by experts from the world’s leading auction houses — including Bonhams & Butterfields, Christie’s, Doyle New York, Skinner, and Sotheby’s — and by leading independent appraisers and dealers. All ticket holders are guaranteed an appraisal.

Now’s the time to get rid of all that junk you’ve been hoarding. Find out if it’s valuable. If not, drop it off at one of those Ebay stores or give it away to someone who needs it. Or throw it away!

By: Heather Ivester in: Organization | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (7)

January 6, 2006

Today is officially the 12th Day of Christmas. It’s Epiphany, also known as “The Adoration of the Magi” or “The Manifestation of God.” According to CRI/Voice, “The Season of Christmas begins with the First Sunday of Advent, marked by expectation and anticipation, and concludes with Epiphany, which looks ahead to the mission of the church to the world in light of the Nativity.”

So Happy Epiphany to you! We’ve made it through the whole Christmas season! Now, if you’re like me, you’re ready to get back to regular routine and move along.

I wrote about how much we enjoy our Quiet Week after Christmas, and…well…it stretched into two quiet weeks. So we still haven’t taken our sparkly, artificial tree down. We relished the grace of those 12 full days of Christmas. But today — away it goes.

Now, I’m really getting into this FlyLady routine stuff — my days are starting to be anchored by solid, unwavering morning and evening routines. For some reason, it doesn’t seem so boring — when I know that 250,000 other “Fly Babies” are also shining their sinks, scanning for stray clutter, and checking our calendars. The EXCITING part of it all is I’ve discovered I can really be faster doing things I hate, which makes it more like a game than drudgery.

So, here’s the new motto for this year — are you ready? From FlyLady:

Simple Routines are the trick in 2006.

I chose this motto because I do not want you to make your routines so big that they are not doable and you allow your pefectionism to cause you to do nothing. Keep them simple and they will be easy for you.

The word trick can be fun! In the dictionary I found a meaning that seems to fit my idea. #5 A special skill; a knack: Is there a trick to getting this window to stay up? I want you to find that loving yourself by using simple routines is a special skill that can change your world. It is just this easy! By doing simple routines to relieve the pressure we put on ourselves; we are FLYing!

So, while you’re FLYing through your Friday errand running and cleaning as you get ready for the first POST-HOLIDAY weekend of the year, here’s a little quiz to remind you of your hidden talents. (This one pegged me exactly…somehow!)

Your Hidden Talent

You are a great communicator. You have a real way with words.
You’re never at a loss to explain what you mean or how you feel.
People find it easy to empathize with you, no matter what your situation.
When you’re up, you make everyone happy. But when you’re down, everyone suffers.

December 30, 2005

Every mom I’ve talked to since Christmas has been overwhelmed with one thing: what to do with all the new STUFF! How’s it going at your house? We’re having one gigantic clean-out over here. So since it’s officially “Flylady Friday” on my mental blog schedule, maybe I can cheer you on if you’re in the thick of it too. (I need a little pep talk myself…)

One of my friends has a much better idea about this — her kids clean out their rooms and closets BEFORE Christmas. They have absolutely NO room for storage, so her rule is they give away half their old toys to make room for their new ones. The kids actually enjoy this since they know they’ll be making someone else’s Christmas a little brighter — as well as clearing the way for more goods.

And to be honest — whenever my kids play at her house, they spend almost all their time running around outdoors because there aren’t zillions of plastic toys inside to keep them occupied. She actually puts them to work in her huge garden, and they think that’s fun! (See how I’m gleaning the best tips on mothering and giving them to you? They’re not mine — I’m still learning from all these really smart moms.)

Another friend has given me moral support with the clothing situation — she’s got a large family too, and a couple of years ago, she decided to simplify her laundry routine. Each child has “town clothes” and “play clothes.” They’re limited to five outfits of each in their drawers, so they can choose what to wear. The kids don’t wear their town clothes at home — they’ll get messed up. (They live on a farm and have a ton of animals.) When it’s time to go somewhere, they change to the nice outfits.

Simplify. That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re sending along boxes of gently worn and loved clothes and toys in order to make room for the new. I caught myself yesterday considering another dash to Target to get more storage boxes, but I had some “helpers” remind me we don’t need more storage; we need less stuff.

My FlyLady emails this week have encouraged me to pack away decorations a few at a time, not all at once. And while I’m packing away, she says to go through the old decorations that I didn’t put out this year and get rid of them. Horrors! I’m looking at several boxes of Christmas decorations that we never use — but I keep because of this guilty feeling that I used them before and I MAY use them again. I’ve still got knick-knacks that I used to decorate my college dorm room! Thanks, FlyLady — all I needed was that extra push — boxes of old decorations are clutter, she says.

If something doesn’t bring you joy, FlyLady says to get rid of it. Your home should be a relaxing haven, not a warehouse of possessions. Instead of spending your time washing too many clothes, dusting too many knick-knacks, and picking up gigantic collections of toys — living lean allows you more time and freedom to do things that bring you and others joy. (And some smart moms actually know how to make money off this — through hosting yard sales and on Ebay. Maybe I’ll try that someday!)

I’m writing all this to encourage you — AND me — to keep going. We can do this. Today I’m cleaning out our kitchen “craft cabinets.” I’ve found the kitchen the best place to store all the play-dough, paint, and bead crafts. There’s nothing easier to occupy kids on a rainy day than crafts at the kitchen table while I’m in there working. Especially toddlers. They feel like they’re “cooking” when they take cookie cutters and work through dough. Always gives me at least 20 minutes of quiet.

I’m also going to be cleaning out my blog drafts folder — I have way too much! If you’re a blogger, do you think in bloglets too? I jot down an idea, get going a bit, then forget about it. Is there anybody who has their email inbox cleaned out? Help!! How do you do it?

Two more days of 2005 — let’s end the year a little bit lighter.

By: Heather Ivester in: Organization | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)

December 2, 2005

I shared with you a few weeks ago about Momstown Blog and how they conducted a worldwide survey to discover the most popular websites for moms. Far and above the rest, FlyLady got the most votes. In fact, I read that she received 33% of more than 30,000 votes. Well, I thought it was high time for me to check out her services and tell you what I think.

I have a few friends who tell me her methods have changed their household completely. But they warned me — don’t get overwhelmed by all the emails she sends. Instead of receiving her messages individually, I signed up on to receive a Daily Digest.

So I’m going to start something new here in my blog. On Fridays, I’m going to give you an update on what I’ve learned during the week and call it “FlyLady Friday.” My plan is to do this for the next 21 weeks. That should take us from today until April 21. Experts say it takes 21 days to acquire a new habit — so I’m going to give FlyLady’s methods 21 weeks — and maybe you’ll join the party with me.

If you’re one of my guy readers and you’re not at all interested in household maintenance — or what concerns most of the women in the world — then you may just want to skip my blog on Fridays. But then again — you may want to stick around and pick up some cool FlyLady lingo and impress your wife or lady friends — if you offer to pitch in for a “27-Fling Boogie” some afternoon, your wife’s going to wonder what in the world’s come over you — but she’ll be thrilled.

Here’s what Momstown said about FlyLady, when they were counting their votes for Top Mom sites:…has a following unlike any other, but a genuine following. They REALLY love that site, which is why it composes close to 33% of all votes…

Why? Love, pure and simple. While the vote is largely about business, business comes with a heart. You can’t fake it, you can’t buy it, and you can’t argue against it.

I can tell you one thing — from only a few days of emails — what I think people like about FlyLady is her “voice.” She’s got the perfect tone — like that wise older sister who offers you plenty of love and encouragement, but also knows the right buttons to push to motivate you.

Here’s the first thing you’re supposed to focus on: Shine Your Sink. FlyLady takes this so seriously, she even has a book called Sink Reflections (Ballentine Books.) If you go to Amazon and check out the reader reviews, you’ll see nearly 300 people are totally passionate about her book in some way or another.

She tells you to shine it with Windex, then wipe it dry with a towel. Then look in your sink and see your reflection. Well, I say — that’s a very positive suggestion — instead of saying, “Wash those dishes,” she says, “Shine that beautiful sink.”

And don’t most people respond to praise more than criticism? If you praise me and tell me good things, then I’m going to feel good about myself and work to please you. But if you criticize me, thinking I’ll learn more that way, I go the opposite way and feel like giving up. I don’t think I’m all that unusual — that’s just the way most of us think.

So, stay tuned for next FlyLady Friday when I tell you about Hot Spots, the Secret Weapon, Holiday Super Cruising Missions, and how YOU…yes YOU can become a genuine Fly Baby.