Monday, September 29, 2014

Simple N Organized Life: Just Take Baby Steps

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Women, by nature, are busy creatures. We want to be productive. We want to take care of others. Single or married, mom or not, we have a nesting side, we want to create a home. As a single girl living alone in the US, I created a home out of an apartment. Then in Jakarta, I turned my one-room rented place into a mini home. As a wife, I had a zest to create a nice, cozy, comfy home for my husband. And now, as a mom who works outside the home, I still want to, and do, create a home for my little family. However, with an active toddler following me around the house, and creating mess along the way, and living with a husband who is... well, let's say that dear man of mine is not very clean nor very tidy, it becomes much more difficult. Not to mention that with all the responsibilities that I have now, time has become an extremely limited comodity.

So, how do I create a home? And how do I keep a (relatively) clean and neat home that is (again, relatively) presentable at all (or most) time?

Clean as you go

This is the major thing that has made a whole lot of difference. It means you don't let dirt and clutter grow into mountainous size. After washing the dishes, I wipe off the counter top. After brushing my teeth, I organize and clean the bathroom counter. After dinner, I wipe the table clean. I do a little bit of cleaning as I go around doing my daily activities. Sometimes it could be annoying that you feel compelled to a little bit of cleaning aaaaall the time, but that's the thing. You just do a little bit of cleaning as you go along with your life. You are not going to be stuck with blocking hours in a week to do a thorough cleaning. Your home will look relatively presentable and clean and neat at all times, because you don't let it become too dirty or too disorganized.

Challenge yourself to always do something on the go. You like watching TV? Why don't you dust the home theater set and coffee table while doing that? When you come home from somewhere, you can always pick up the clutter from your porch before going inside. When you put on your makeup, why don't you give the mirror a wipe as well to make it really clear and clean?

Of course, I still need to do a major cleaning like sweeping and mopping the floor, but cleaning as I go meaning that you can drop by at my home any day of the week, and I won't be caught embarassed in the middle of a chaotic or super dirty home, though you won't find me in a perfectly shined and spick-and-span home, either. 

I also teach this method to my toddler. I always told him gently to pick up after himself. Sometimes the child will refuse, but most of the time, he will comply and return his toys or whatever things he rummaged from the cupboard, to where they belong. When he did refuse, I will hold his hands, give him the toy he had let stray on the floor, and gently pulled him to the direction of the cupboard to return it. That way, he knows that eventhough Mommy doesn't raise her voice or angry, she does mean business.

Forget perfection

Do you know why the houses in the interior magazines look so perfect? Because before the photoshoot, a team of cleaners brush and polish the room clean, and the room was un-live-able during the photoshoot! My husband works in marketing and makes a lot of commercials both in TV and printed ads and magazines, so I know. You can't have perfection in a home with people who truly live in it. If it's perfect, it's not a home; it's a museum! I don't want a museum to live in, I want a home. A nice, cozy, comfortable home where my family can relax and be themselves. You don't need to apologize to anyone, if your house doesn't look perfect. Don't be discouraged if you still have papers and stuff strewn on the floor at the end of the day. It is bound to happen, and that's they way it should be.

As a single girl, I used to change the decoration according to the theme of the season. Pink for February. Spring decoration for April. Flowers for May. Now as a Mom, I don't have time to do just that. I simplify by keeping the same neutral theme throughout the year, and just create some theme centerpieces on the living room table and corner table for auspicious Lunar Chinese New Year, Christmas, and some other holidays or special celebration like birthdays. The rest of the room basically stays the same. The difference is just the centerpieces or the table runner. Ow, and a Christmas tree for Christmas!

Keep the front porch and one room clean

Even if the house if fall apart around you, always keep the front porch clean, because it's the face of the house. And keep one room - just one - presentable where you can receive guests, or relax and gather yourself and recharge before you "attack" the rest chaos around the house. Cheat if you need to. Nobody will see the insides of your cupboard, so feel free to unclutter the room by throwing everything inside your cupboard, dresser, drawer or other storage and close the door if you are running out of time. You can always sort and organize the cupboard later.

Schedule the major things

Routine is a busy girl's best friend. By creating a routine and sticking to it, I save a lot of energy on thinking: "What should I do next?" Routine enables me to operate on automatic mode, without thinking, easy as pie. Examples. If it's the first or third Monday of the month, I know it's time to change the sheets. If it's October, I know it's time to take down the curtains and send them to the laundromat for washing and pressing, one room per week, and I'll have fresh-laundered curtains by Thanksgiving.

Some women said to me that cleaning a house is a neverending battle. Well, personally I don't see it as a battle. I just see it as part of life. It's repetitive, but think of it as a creation process, a creative process, from which the result you can enjoy. A clean house will enable you to live a better life compared to if you live in a dirty, filthy one. If you feel like you're very far behind in your house cleaning, I'd like to encourage everyone, that it can be done, and it doesn't have to be so hard, if you discipline yourself to make cleaning a daily habit, and if you stop to push yourself so hard to reach perfection. Just take baby steps. Start with one room. Just one room. Or even start with the kitchen sink. Yes. Shine the kitchen sink. Then you can clean and organize the dining area the next day. The living room the next. The most important thing is that you're making progress.

I wore this ensemble some time last year, actually, when taking Michael, who was just a baby at that time, to his regular immunization shot. He looked so tiny here. How time flies.

I'm linking up to these wonderful Ladies:



Monday, September 22, 2014

Week in Recap: Leopard Orchid

Hello, Friends!
Last weekend started slow with me and Hubby went to see a movie, Hercules, on Friday night. Frankly, we were a bit disappointed with the movie, being just a so-so (though still enjoyable enough to watch) action movie. The story was not too interesting, and we felt like it somehow diluted the legend of Hercules a bit TOO much. I mean, you can twist a fairy tale like Hollywood did with Maleficent and Broadway with Wicked; but twisting a mythological character whom have been known all over the world like Hercules is much more difficult, and the movie doesn't do him justice. At least to us. Nevertheless, we had a good time with each other company with popcorn and just being cozy. Hubby loves movies, and as frugal as we are, we prefer going on Friday night compared to Saturday, because the theater will be much less crowded, and the ticket entrance fee is a tad lower! Haha!
One of the many fun things about living and working in the same neighborhood? In addition to the short 15-minute commute, I can go out to lunch at the mall where the movie theater is, buy the ticket for the evening show during lunch hour, and later on at night, Hubby and I can just arrive 5 minutes before the show, beat the long ticket queuing line, and waltz right into the theater to our assigned seats! Lovely!
I usually love to dress up when I'm on a date with Hubby, but that evening was an exception. I just took a shower, wore a pair of jeans, a simple top and my fuzzy coral sweater, and wore no makeup whatsoever except for some moisturizer on my face and a dash of pink lipgloss on my lips. After the movie, we just went home and straight to bed. Usually I would need to shower and do my beauty ritual first. Hubby loves seeing me all dolled up, but he commented that evening: "It's good that we are able to do this once in a while. Casual date and you can just dash of the door looking naturally pretty." ^__^
On Saturday, we were up and about early. Hubby is a natural morning person, so he woke up at five for his morning run around our neighborhood, then he went home, took a shower, and went to the park with Michael while Mommy was still sleeping. Usually Michael will come to the bed and nuzzling and kissing Mommy first before leaving for a walk with Daddy. He's such a sweet and considerate child, he understands Mommy is not a morning person and he can take a walk with Mommy later on in the afternoon. ^__^
I woke up around 7.30, then showered and prepared breakfast. We usually have three-egg ommeletes with chopped tomatoes and green onions, and some hashbrowns. Then we dashed off to see our renovation project. As you can see here, the builders had took down most of the roof. We talked with the foreman and asked how much money he would need to buy materials next week, then we went home and played with Michael.
Sometimes I am still amazed at how content I am doing nothing in particular but spending time with my husband and son. We just played on the floor and on the bed, making silly faces, funny noises and taking selfies. We played with blocks, flashlight, and peek-a-boo.
I just bought Michael a box of coloring pencils, since he always wanted to "write" using my pen and made a mess. So I got him a used notebook to use as well, telling him in plain language that he can use the pencils only on the book, not on the walls! Michael still could not draw anything in particular, but he enjoyed his new toy very much. It's very rewarding to see him deep in concentration trying to draw something, and how tried really hard to put all the pencils back into its box, struggling with little hands and fingers, and with still limited motoric ability.
While Michael was taking an afternoon nap, Hubby went to have a massage and I did some browsing, stumbling upon this goooooorgeous Kate Spade dress. Its bold horizontal stripes and billowy skirt caught my eye and I was instantly captivated. I need it in my life! I think I will have a copy made in different color combination since green and taupe together is not my cup of tea.
I love having people coming over to my home. I'm the kind of relax and easygoing hostess who doesn't fuss too much over her guests or the perfection of the home condition. I believe that if the hostess is calm and enjoying herself, the guests will be, too. And as long as the home is relatively presentable, good companionship, food, and conversation can beat a picture perfect living room anytime!
Hubby invited his childhood friend, wife, and their four-month-old baby girl on Sunday. I wrote about them having a new baby in my week recap here. I already prepared Michael from Saturday, that a little baby would be coming over to visit on Sunday. When Baby Carol came, he looked confused that there was someone even smaller than him! He took great interest on the baby, letting her sleep in his crib and calling her "little sister" with his baby accent. Adorable! Baby Carol wore the prettiest pink dress and cutest eyelet cap. Having a baby girl is such a job to dress and adorn! Not that I don't like buying Michael good clothes, but it's just different with boys, you know!
The parents talked and had lunch while the babies were taking naps in the nursery. We had a good time and everybody enjoyed the visit and the chicken wonton noodles that I bought at a nearby Chinese restaurant.

Hubby has taken a new habit of taking Michael for a morning stroll to a nearby part twice a week on weekdays before work. He comes home later than I do, so he feels like he doesn't have enough time to spend with his son. It's like a special father and son bonding time that both enjoy immensely. I can have mother and son time after work, while waiting for my husband to come home, then the three of us will have some time together before Michael's bed time at eight.

Twice a week, Hubby goes to the gym in the evening. He tries to fit the schedule into around Michael's bedtime, so he can still tuck our son to bed. Also, his gym time gives me a little bit of me time, with him away and our son sleeping. So it works beautifully for everyone! I can write post, blogwalking, and catch up on some reading while my husband hits the gym. This is how Michael looks like in one of his new pajamas. I wrote in previous post here how I told him into liking all his three new pajamas instead of just one. This is his Bon Bon The Elephant pajama. He finally was willing to wear these after I made up the story of Bon Bon The Elephant.

We got new furniture for our main bedroom to replace our old ones several months ago, and they were made in lovely high gloss finished wood in dark colors. I love them, and so does Hubby, but we also wanted a new chair for my desk to replace my old, ugly, green one. Last Tuesday, it finally arrived! I am so in love with this new chair. The fabric can be reupholstered, of course, and I chosed similar finishing in dark color. Best thing? It was on sale!
For several weeks already, I somehow lost interest in dressing up and primping up. I still maintain a presentable look, but my passion for fashion was not there. It was automatic, and not so much fun. I guess it was just a phase, but I didn't like it. Apparently, my friends notice that, as well, because some of them commented that they missed my outfit of the day shot on instagram and that I don't look as fashionable as I usually do. Hubby also asked why I stopped taking selfie picture in the morning and send it over to him as a "good morning kiss" as I commonly do. I gave myself sometime to indulge in my "not fashionable" state, then I decided to fight back and got to my old fashionable self this week. Ow, including the morning selfie portion. Haha!
I believe that a little bit of vanity, in good proportion, the discipline to look as lovely as possible for our husbands and for the people around us, is good manners in itself. I myself take joy in seeing men and women who look like they care about how they present themselves to the world. Not vain, I mind you. You don't need to look picture perfect like celebrities on the red carpet. Not. Just look like we've made some effort to be presentable.

One of my responsibilities is visiting construction projects, with all the dirt, mud, and dust. Still, I wore a pair of dangly earrings with my casual outfit and jeans and boots, wearing hard hat riding up the construction elevator!

I tried out some new breed of flowers this week for the office, and the florist sent over this leopard print orchid in gorgeous purple and white hues. It looks so pretty sitting in the corner of the Penthouse bathroom!

Last week's to do list:
  • Read Chapter 20 of Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle": Time Begins.
  • Read and contemplate on the Book of Proverbs Chapter 4. 6
  • Renovation project: laying down the foundation, week one of renovation permit.
  • Planning weekly menu.
  • Write post about my home working desk.
  • Change the living room seasonal decoration.
  • Work on family financial files: budget and renovation project spreadsheets.
  • Start toddler vitamin for Michael.
  • Shop online for new necklaces.
  • Motivate myself to dress up again.

This week's to do list:
  • Begin to read one new book.
  • Read and contemplate on Matthew 20:1-16: The Workers in the Vineyard.
  • Renovation project: laying down the concrete foundation, week three of renovation permit.
  • Upload 2 Michael's videos on YouTube.
  • Frame my embroidered picture for main bedroom.
  • Purchase baby girl pajamas as present for a friend's new daughter.
  • Prepare and send care package for a friend.
  • Take care of family investment plan.

I'm linking up to these wonderful Ladies:



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