Housekeeping

F5C72BC3-C00A-47D6-8306-013B135D9558

My favorite definition of housekeeping is: the replenishing of good things and the removal of unnecessary things.

I like this definition because it acknowledges that we need good things and we need to remove other things. One way I implement this definition is the “one in — one out” rule. If I buy one pair of socks, another pair must be ready for either the garbage or Goodwill (depending on why it is being removed). When our electric teapot dies, then I can get a new one. I don’t bring one into the house “just in case.”

Replenish the Good Things
I have monthly lists set up on Amazon, Akamai, and Grove that help keep our cleaning supplies, dog food, pen refills, 3-in1 bar, skin fuel, toothpaste, kitchen towels, etc streamlined. It takes about 5 minutes a month to double-check the lists and make any changes necessary.

This means when I go to the grocery store it is for food. I don’t get distracted by the other aisles and my grocery money doesn’t get spent on household needs. They each have their own line in the budget.

I keep a running list in the Notes app on my phone of clothing sizes, needs, and preferred colors/brands for each member of the family.

Lately, I have been bringing home plants or flowers to green up our indoors and provide some much needed cheer and color. We have so much green outside during most of the year, but late fall and winter can seem pretty bleak. It surprises me that I have such a hard time keeping indoor plants alive. I don’t know if I overwater or underwater or what other mistake might be at play. There is definitely a learning curve!

Removing the Unnecessary Things
This might possibly be my favorite part of housekeeping. Weird, I know.

There is always a bag sitting on the bench by the front door for donations. Sometimes it takes a week to fill, sometimes a month. Our current bag has been there for 4 weeks and still isn’t full. We are in a pretty good place stuff-wise since we undertook this journey mindset.

Garbage is another area where we are removing the unnecessary stuff. We sort ours into burnable (paper, cardboard, etc) and non-burnable. Our family of 4 adults fills two thirteen gallon bags per week. It is mostly plastic wrapping from frozen vegetables, fruits, vegetables, and meat trays. We have been trying for years, with varying degrees of success, to eliminate plastic from our lives. There are still days when the can seems full of strawberry bins and mixed greens bins. All I can do is sigh, break them down into small pieces, and wish for an easier solution.

Food scraps are another area of removal. We compost all that can be composted, but there are still bones, food with grease/oil, and other things best left out of a compost pile. Those end up dumped into the garbage bin. In fact, if it wasn’t for this bit we could probably get a way with paper bin liners instead of plastic. Those scraps bring raccoons and neighbors’ dogs from all around to the outdoor garbage can if we don’t have them wrapped in plastic.

I could go on and on about removing the unnecessary things, but perhaps that is another blog post for another day.

Germany; 1992-1993

Germany: June 1992-April 1993

Our move to Germany happened very quickly. Shortly after Christmas 1991, I told Kelly that I wanted to get away. Family visits over Christmas had been emotionally charged and difficult.  I wanted a fresh start where our little family didn’t have to fit into anyone else’s pattern. So in late February, Kelly put in the paperwork for an “accompanied, overseas, extended long” tour of duty. We left the location open so that we’d be at the top of the list for “send them anywhere as long as they go as a family.”

In late April, Kelly called home at lunch and asked how I felt about Germany. I loved the idea.  “When?”  Six weeks!  By the time he got home, I had the bathroom and part of the bedroom ready.  We sat down and talked about the base. It was a base closure assignment: short-term and then you can choose your next base.  He signed the paper the next morning and the merry-go-round started immediately.

Passports (on rush), shots, medical clearance — all in the first week. Spouse counseling, international driver’s licenses, and loads of paperwork — week 2.  Movers for bulk shipment (by boat) — week 3.  More paperwork, more shots, and finish up all stateside business — week 4.  International bank account and movers for express shipment (by plane), pick up passports and exchange some dollars for DM, and say goodbye to Ohio. — week 5.  Visit Kelly’s family to say goodbye, fly to Atlanta to say goodbye to my family, and finally board the international flight from Atlanta to Frankfurt Germany — week 6.

We got to Germany and stayed in a hotel for a week and then we moved into a base apartment. Germany was an amazing experience. We spent our weekends exploring the country around us. We found our favorite places (Trier, for one) and picnics on the Moselle River (which was quite near our base). We traveled rain or shine and even in the snow.  We knew our time there was short and we made use of every free moment.

Germany was also the place where my kids got chicken pox, ate from street vendors, climbed over ruins, and learned that friends don’t always speak the same language.  We went to church where German, Croatian, Russian, English, and Sudanese were all spoken.  We had earpieces for the Sundays when the sermon language wasn’t English.

One Monday in early April 1993, the movers came again and packed up our express shipment (which went by air from Germany to the US and then on another plane from US to Turkey).  On Wednesday and Thursday they picked up our bulk shipment (which had to go from Germany to the US by boat before going by boat to Turkey).  Friday we took a shuttle from our base to the airport.  We spent the night in a hotel, and early Saturday flew to Turkey on a C-130.

When we left Germany there were piles of snow and it was cool (45-50 degrees).  When we landed in Turkey it was green and brown and 85 degrees. We knew we were in for a huge change.

 

Trying out Luggage, 1

LL Bean, medium rolling duffle
23x11x10

This bag is technically too big to be a carry-on which is such a shame. Although it is less than 45 inches, it won’t fit in the 21x14x9 guidelines. Hopefully LL Bean will trim a few inches off and they’d have a great bag.

What I fit into the bag: (Cool/warm weather)

  • LL Bean fitness dress x3
  • undershort x3
  • cardigan (light) x3
  • shoes: flats
  • shoes: sport sandals
  • UV hat
  • swimsuit
  • pjs x2
  • LL Bean perfect pant x2
  • tshirt x3
  • socks x3
  • underwear x5
  • bra x2
  • Turkish towel
  • LL Bean small organizer/toiletry bag
  • 3-1-1 bag

I also had a purse with

  • IPhone, charger, stand
  • solar battery pack
  • kindle paperwhite
  • Klean Kanteen insulated bottle
  •  Snack: apple slices and nutrition bar
  • normal purse stuff

 

The Art of the Overhaul, week 6

Family

  • dumpster filled and removed
  • decide if we need another dumpster this winter to finish up back woods
  • 12 more bags to Goodwill
  • 1 bag full of movies to Buy Backs
  • Movies:  watch movies on “Watch and See” list and decide if we want a digital copy
  • begin property and house repair list and prioritize
  • medical bill 2– still working on

Kim

  • Complete wardrobe planning
  • Complete sorting through personal items, book list — anything not going has been moved out of the room
  • Complete living room sort:  the living room will remain mostly as is until right before we move.  A few things into a shipping pod, the remainder to Goodwill
  • Started kitchen sort: eating area complete, dishes complete.  Still to do:  cups, mugs, water bottles, cooking equipment, utensils, etc

Kelly

  • shed cleaned out
  • garden work and help with yard work
  • found home for a chicken tractor

Michael

  • Books:  a few more books put into the Goodwill pile
  • DVDs: finished sorting, iTunes list made, and some to Buy Backs
  • Yard work:  grass, garden, rabbit hutch, finished dumpster loading, cleaned up burn area

Hannah

  • sorted through her books, movies, photos, papers,
  • Drove load 1 to Goodwill
  • Drove load 2 to Goodwill
  • Drove load 1 to Buy Backs
  • *Her room is pretty nearly completed on the sort through.  Repair list started.

The Art of the Overhaul, week 5

IMG_0764

IMG_0765

Week 5 checklist:

  • Family–-
    • Dumpster filling
    • Insurance calling
    • Picture taking
    • Medical debt 2 is now 40% paid off
  • Kim–
    • media list:  sorted into get on iTunes, watch again to decide, and watch again and donate
    • cookbook: put our favorite recipes into a new folder and donate books that are intact
  • Michael — begin sorting through personal books and media
    • He finished his first pass through his books.
    • He started and finished the DVDs
    • This week he donated 1 bag of books and a half bag of DVDs
    • Property prep (cont): grass mowing, dumpster filling, built small rabbit hutch
    • Began cutting our neighbor’s grass to earn a little money
  • Hannah —
    • Continue working on novels.
    • Sort through belongings and books
      • 3 bags to Goodwill pile
      • 1 bag of garbage
      • Bitty Baby and all her gear given to young girl — see picture above
    • deciding to write or look for 2nd job
  • Kelly —
    • Property prep work (continued): dumpster filling, weeding and planting garden, helping with grass and general yard work.

Texas 1987 (post 3)

I think the most profound lesson I learned in Texas is that adventure (and living in a culture radically different than your own) is not scary, is not dangerous, and is not necessarily expensive. It may seem strange to call Texas a radically different culture than southern Indiana, but when all you know is Midwest, English speaking, white people . . . Texas is worlds away.

I came away from our time there with a confidence that I could communicate with anyone.  A few words in a language (not your own) shows respect, a commitment to relationship, and a true interest in those around you.

I also learned that it is important to find people and a place where you can worship regularly.

And food . . . I definitely learned to eat like a local.  Find the places where the locals go and eat there, buy food in the local markets, and get a cookbook so you can try out food on your own.