Tuesday, February 2, 2016

On My Playlist Lately

This is a musical home. We listen to music, play music, and sing. A lot. Some of us are actually talented.Others, mmmm, not so much, but that's fine. The genres of music we listen to are vast and varied. Some genres are enjoyed by all of us, others depend on who it is listening to it. There is always someone listening to something new.

Peter Hollens is not new to me. However, I just introduced him to the Engineer this weekend. He got a two thumbs up.

Here's one of my favorites:



 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Decluttering Extraordinaire {Thank You Marie Kondo}

Those of you who are regulars to my blog know that I read a LOT. For those of you who are just popping by, 'tis true. I read a LOT. How is that possible with six children at home who have endless extra curricular activities, and (heaven forbid!!) social lives! You squeak it in whenever and wherever you can. I almost always have a book with me. The advantage? I tend to get a surprising amount of reading done --  and when I really don't want to socialize, it's very beneficial for avoiding/ignoring people. (Hehe!)

Lately I have also been enjoying audio books. They are great for when I want to do crafty things like knitting, or crocheting, for when I am doing the never ending dishes, or for anything else in life that doesn't require a lot of brain work. Recently I listened to the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. It was so mind blowingly simple to me that I didn't even finish the book before beginning to follow through on her methods.

I'm not going to go into detail here on what her methods are. If you really want/need to know, you can go on Pinterest and find a wealth of information, as well as people who love and/or hate her book. Here is a link to a post on Your Vibrant Family that pretty much sums up my thoughts too.

Although I did find some of the book a little, shall I say, New Age-y, I got really excited about asking the question, "does it bring me joy?" It may have at one time or I wouldn't have brought it into our home in the first place, but hoo boy have I found joy in tossing things the last two weeks!

As Kondo suggests, I started with my clothes. By today's standards, I really don't have a lot of clothing. Partly because I hate shopping for clothes and partly because I rarely like how things look on me. Blech! Shockingly, I still managed to fill a garbage bag, and no my closet is not empty. My fleece pants and cozy sweatshirts always bring me much joy! :o)

Then I went off track. Where Marie suggests pulling EVERYTHING out, going through it piece by piece, and not putting it away until it has all been sorted, I ignored. Why?

1) I have seven kids (six at home)!!
2) I have two dogs!
3) I am already a neat freak. (Please note: there is a difference between neat freak and clean freak.)
4) Some things are very logical for me that perhaps are not to others. (In other words, I have always had like items ((mostly)) put away together.)
5) There are no guarantees that once I pulled everything out that I would be able to keep at it, or get back to it in a decent amount of time. (Children, and the occasional migraine tend to throw me completely off track.)

Friday completed week two of my declutter sessions. To date, I have taken ten (nope, not a typo) garbage bags full of former joy bringing stuff to the thrift store. But wait! There's more! Add to that multiple boxes, smaller bags, and baskets of stuff equalling a van load FULL. On the next trip (I had to go into the city again anyway) I brought some more that couldn't fit in the van on the first trip.

Reality? I am embarrassed. How did it come to this? I began to wonder if this was normal despite countless examples in Marie's book of people who collected way more bags than I had. So.... I started to watch a random episode of Hoarders on YouTube. Okay, so I am definitely NOT a hoarder.  Apparently I had never watched Hoarders before as I was five minutes into the show and so repulsed by it, I switched to music instead.

Next, I attacked the bookshelves. Eleven boxes of books made it out the door. I managed to dismantle an entire shelf, in turn making the rec. room just a tad roomier. However, our book problem addiction is not completely solved as the Engineer and I are not the only avid readers. There are several children in this home who think actually parting with books is a criminal offence! Check any bedroom or closet of the children, and you are sure to find enough books yet to refill the shelves that I emptied. However, those are the children's books -- not mine.

Crowded room.

Suddenly spacious!

Thus far, the entirety main floor and most of the basement has been gone through. Even the storage room that was atrocious when the appraiser came through, looks better again. There is still a rather large pile in one corner, but the brunt of that belongs to Nathanael. I am hoping he will make his Momma very happy by going through it when he comes home for reading week and only keeping what brings him joy. ;o) We'll see if he has time though. It IS reading week after all. He'll likely have papers -- or projects to work on.

I got the two oldest girls to go through their rooms. Peach was more than happy to oblige and happily tossed away. Beans, on the other hand, went through her clothes with some much encouragement. The rest of her stuff however, SHALL NOT BE TOUCHED. (Hopefully her closet full of books doesn't come crashing down on her head!) :o)

I thought Friday afternoon I would get at the younger girls' room, but our new futon arrived, so instead I put together it with some help from Beans -- and well, I will admit, I am doing migraine battle. So glad I gutted the class/craft room when I did!

No Futon.

Futon!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Another Week of Single Parenting

There was a time when I couldn't stand it when the Engineer travelled. That was partly because he was gone every sixth week and the children were young. I remember after one such eventful week -- we only had two children at the time -- I was ready to post a for sale sign on the lawn! At that time anything that could go wrong with the house always went wrong while he was travelling. Flooding toilets, flying shingles, leaking ceilings, you name it, I probably dealt with it. Somehow we survived.

These days even though the kid count is larger, it's much easier. The days tend to be quieter -- even with homeschooling the Littles. The evenings are much much busier though! Every evening/night someone has something that they need to be at or do. Peach works. Other girls have music. Then there is church stuff and/or school stuff. I've learned how to combine multiple errands into one small amount of time while in the city. Despite living out here for almost nineteen years now, I still can't stand driving back and forth into the city multiple times a day. If I can figure out a way to do it in one trip, believe me I will.

Here it is Thursday already again! We're back from piano and string lessons early. (Yes, I am still attempting to learn cello.) The Engineer is on his way home as I type and it is marvellously quiet in the house. I'm pretty sure I could fall asleep sitting at this desk! I am indeed thankful that another single parenting week it completed!

 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Some Shoots {Photographs of My Loves}

We did very little shooting this summer. Truthfully, I was thankful. I had enough going on without photo deadlines. I did take some time to do a few shoots of some of my favourite muses though.



Taken up at the cottage this summer.






In the back forty.







On a chilly day in early December. The golden hour! In the back forty.



Some studio work. For their work portfolios.

Finally, one just for laughs!

A photo of my girls being silly at a concert that I made into a meme. :o)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

An Overnighter

This year there were no gifts under the tree and the stockings were virtually empty as we did something completely different. Our Christmas present to all the children was an afternoon watching the Trans Siberian Orchestra and a night away at a hotel.

We rented a 12 passenger van (we sold the Monster in June as we have 3 -- almost 4 drivers at home now. Our rental was identical -- except two years newer. Even the licence plate letters were almost the same!) and headed to Auburn Hills, MI.


We decided it would be fun to dress up. The lovely young lady on the left end is Nathanael's girlfriend Madi. We love her lots!

We were told that a TSO concert is amazing and we were not disappointed! Wow!! Peanut sat on the edge of her seat almost the entire time. The rest of them were mesmerized, as were the Engineer and I.

 Waiting (im)patiently for the show to start. {grainy photos compliments of my phone}.


We were in the "snow" zone. It was so cool!

After the concert, we had a very late diner at the Rainforest cafe. (Very long wait time to get a table for ten. So we strolled the mall and window shopped.) We hadn't been there in years! The kids that had been years ago, really had no memory of it, and the four youngest had never been. It was fun, but more of a been there done that thing. :o)

These would be so fun to have!

Then it was off to the hotel! The two youngest were put to bed and I went too (I was coming down with a migraine), while the rest went swimming and hot tubbing.

The next day, I got worse, but we had promised the older children they could do a little more shopping. I spent the drive home with my head in a pillow.

We crossed back into Canada on the ferry. I was glad to be home. I crashed, eventually went to the hospital to get a migraine cocktail and had a good long sleep.

Despite the interference of a lovely migraine it was still a great two day get away!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Re-Mortgaging

We've been doing battle for over a year now with re-mortgaging our home. It hasn't been fun. Last year we failed to get a new mortgage because we went to one of those big banks where everything is done out of Toronto and it's all predone on paper. There's no taking into account the work that has been done on the home, the updates it's had, or the curb appeal that is apparent or non-existent -- depending on the home. It's some random (I'm sure mathematically well thought out) pre-set price, no matter what the real estate value of your home might be. Compared to market value, our home was severely low-balled last year. No assessor even came to look at it.

This year we applied with a different bank. I call it your-average-human-being's- bank. No fancy store front. No pile of tellers -- or employees of any sort for that matter. Just one friendly knowledgeable person. In talking to her, we discovered that they look at the actual market value of your home and base the mortgage on this. Today was appraisal day.

The house was as clean and tidy as I could get it with seven children and two dogs underfoot and a weekend just completed. (Just don't look in my storage room. ;o)) The Engineer stayed home to answer any questions the appraiser might have, and I took the dogs for a long chilly walk (-9C and more with the wind chill). The dogs are such social geeks (aka they act really crazy) it's just a whole lot better if they're not around when business-like people are here. After getting reading for this event, I concluded that there is absolutely no way I am moving until we are empty nesters. What a LOT of work!

All in all though, I was pleased with how things looked when I walked out the door with the dogs. After we returned home and before the dogs and/or kids had a chance to mess things up again, I walked around and took some photographs.

 Our craftroom/classroom

This room gets beautiful afternoon sunshine. Although, truth be told I would rather be in this room in the afternoon simply creating and not supervising school work.

Office
This is where I do all my photo editing and planning. The walls are mostly bare because I am supposed to have photo sessions on the walls. I have a good idea of how it will look, but it's just putting it together. It will take time -- and money of course.

 Reading/Games/Play Area

The lights down here are a constant issue. Always burning out. We hope to replace them with the same kind as we have upstairs. They seem to last forever. Yes, we have waaaay too many books! :o)

 Great Room

Also a reading area and conversation room. This is where we host company -- on the rare occasion we have people over.


Kitchen

I am in love with my kitchen. My mom finds it too big, but I don't notice. I still have empty drawers in here, and much to my family's frustration, still like to move things around. I'm thinking of doing some rearranging again this week. :o)

Our home is on the large side -- sometimes too large for my liking, but it does work for us. It is especially wonderful when all the children are home and a multitude of various activities are going on. Everyone has their space to function.

How about you? What is the favourite part of your home?

Edited to add: Once again we didn't qualify. I don't know or understand why. Mathematics -- especially of this sort, has always eluded me.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

My 2016 Reading Challenge

Despite not reaching my reading goal for 2015, I have decided to embark on a new challenge for 2016. It isn't as lofty as 2015's, but it will still be a pretty hefty goal for me to accomplish -- especially if I want to continue whittling down the 2015 Book Challenge List.


I can't guarantee I will read all of these categories because despite several attempts at reading sci-fi, I just can't get excited about it, and really, a political memoir? 

 

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