Sunday, October 7, 2018

A Winter Closet Makeover

Hi! I hope you're all doing well and have had a wonderful summer! Not quite sure how it went so quickly, but it was a good one, filled with lots of happy days and peaceful nights.

As many of you know, I am always reluctant to change when the weather does - yes, I love seeing the colors change on the leaves and feeling the cool air at night when I sleep, but the concept of  swapping out my clothes and adding coats and scarves still escapes me. Maybe it's because I grew up in a more moderate climate, maybe it's just silly stubbornness or a case of the lazies - not sure which, but it's a bugger when you go outside and realize that a cute t-shirt is no longer enough and your bare toes are cringing as they touch the cold ground.

This last week had me scrambling for a sweater and wondering why on earth I only had one pair of jeans. It was chilly, but the days beautiful and the night sky as clear as something out of a storybook. That single, cold day led to a chaotic evening as I decided to clean out my closet and scrambled to swap out my summer skirts and make room for sweater dresses and my beloved boots.

For many things in design, it has to be a process. You need to think about the outcome, plan your time accordingly and just know it is going to take longer than you ever thought. But when it comes to my clothes, all the nice organizing ideas in the world go out the window and it becomes a lesson in necessity and speed.

Being short on storage means I don't have the luxury of days spent sorting them into piles and trying every single thing on, but it does mean that I am very motivated :-) And, I have to be resourceful - my bed becomes my sorting center and my tiny closet kindly expands to absorb as much as it possibly can. The only other thing I have is a small dresser and a few drawers under my bed that store my off-season clothes. It's not fancy, but it works (and it helps to curb my e-bay buying habit because space is so limited and precious).

Because I am always short on time lately, I just had a few hours to get it all done, so here's what I did.

  • Turned the music on (Funky 70's Pandora station). 
  • Dressed in an old t-shirt and leggings.
  • All my summer stuff was taken out of the drawers and closet then put in a big pile on the bed. 
  • My winter clothes were pulled out of the drawers and put in another big pile. 
  • I sorted the winter clothes into two piles - "love-can't wait to wear it" and "meh".
  • The "love-can't wait to wear it" pile got sorted into sweater dresses, sweaters and long-sleeved thingys. All of which went into my drawers (the sweater dresses can be rolled up).
  • The "meh" pile went on my office floor. I later tried things on and donated most of it.
  • The summer clothes that had nowhere to go and needed to stay in the closet went to the far left and the winter clothes that had to go in the closet went in the center and right hand side (sectioned by blouses, long-sleeved, fancy, date-night etc).
  • The other summer clothes (t-shirts, dresses etc) went into the drawers under my bed. 
  • Leggings, jeans and skirts stayed in my dresser, with the summer ones underneath the winter ones. 
Within three hours, I was happily tired, and both me and my tiny closet were ready for cooler days and excited for lots of wonderful, boot-wearing weather! 

Friday, June 8, 2018

One plus One equals Three

When I got divorced, it was rare. I remember writing letters to my daughter's teacher's to tell them about it; making sure that she was okay and constantly checking for signs that she might need help - wanting to make sure that her life stayed as normal as possible amid the turmoil.

I spent years cleaning up the messes that it caused, reassuring the people that we loved, and spending a lot of time apologizing for the disruption that it brought into other people's lives. I was determined to not throw any shade and make sure everyone, including us, was okay.

But divorce is never kind. It takes a while to move through it, and one of the things I learned was that my home truly was my anchor. That role couldn't be filled by another person or my child, but it could be filled by the warm place where I curled up to sleep and dream at the end of the day. Because that was all I could control. And it was easy.

Years later, my home is still my perpetual safety net, and I often wonder why others don't do the same thing. With divorce more common than ever, families are blending into all sorts of unusual concoctions. Some are brilliant, and they work like a dream - the family tree being a hilarious mess of people, all intertwined in a bizarre melting pot that seamlessly bends and wraps around each other. Others are complicated, and, at their worst, sad and uncomfortable, but whichever you have there has to be a blending of homes and people.

I always thought that blending homes meant a compromise of possessions. A grown-up game of sharing and giving in to the others quirks; an endless array of joint shopping experiences that ended with a bland, classical pallet that provoked neither love nor hate, just a shrug and an acceptance that this was how it was meant to be.

Now, I don't believe this. I think when we join homes with someone new, our homes should still give us joy, and they should still be an anchor. We should be able to keep what we love, and accept what the other person has, with some serious editing thrown in for good measure. In a way, one plus one equals three - yours, mine and ours.

Why should both have to give up what they have, and lose what they love so dearly, to make someone else happy in the grown-up game of compromise? It goes against the whole theory of your home being your haven, and whereas I think compromise should happen in other ways, more emotional ways, your stuff and all your funny idiosyncrasies, should be allowed to remain your own.

So, how do you do it? How do you merge two homes into one?
  • You each take what you absolutely love, and you make it work. It's like the most fabulous design job in the world - everything goes in the middle of the room, and you just move things around, and decorate until you're all exhausted. 
  • Create your own rooms (or pockets of spaces if you have to) where you promise not to mess with what the other one has.  
  • Ask first. Don't assume you can organize it for them, or that you can make it look "better". 
  • Choose and buy a few new things together. Items that have no attachment to previous lives or ex people. 
  • If it matters, talk about it. If it doesn't, don't.  
  • Find out what is important to the other person, and why. This helps you understand why they're keeping it, even if you don't agree with the "why".
  • Talk about it outside of the house, not when you're both looking at the space and items in question. It's hard to be objective when you're in the middle of it all - go for coffee or lunch, to chat about it before you start. 
  • Try to keep a sense of humor about it all. If things get tense, try to look at the funny side of it, and, if necessary, always poke fun at yourself rather than the other person. 
  • Remember, at the end of the day, creating a "home" is always more important than the stuff we choose to have in it :-) 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

A Day in the Life of a Mom

I wrote this poem six years ago. More of a journal than a poem, it was remembering a time when my daughter was quite young, and someone asked me what I did all day. At first, I couldn't answer them, because being a mom isn't a defined job description with rules and timelines; it's a chaotic juggle of unexpected moments where there is lots of wonderful advice, but no right answer, often just reactions and a determination to get things done. 
So, at the end of a particularly long day, I decided to write about it, and that's where this poem came from. I know that many of you have read it before but it is still very close to my heart, and I wanted to share it with you again.
Now, my daughter is almost out of her teens, and I can say that being a mother is still a crazy and wonderful experience, which I wouldn't trade for all the butter pecan ice cream in the world. It has taught me to love and appreciate the quiet, beautiful moments, to laugh as often as possible, and to always let people, especially our children, be exactly who they are, not who we feel they should be. 
Wishing you all lots of love and a very Happy Mother's Day.                                                                                                                                
                                                                                   - Wendy 

If you give a Mom a minute, 
she'll want a cup of tea and a magazine.
Reaches for her favorite mug,
but starts to unload the dishwasher instead.

While putting away the dishes,
she rearranges the cupboards.
Decides to put some dishes aside for a garage sale.
Calls her friend for advice,
but forgets to ask about garage sales.

Goes to the toilet, and notices the shower is dirty.
Sprays and scrubs the shower stall,
while she reorganizes the body scrubs and shampoos.
Throws away expired medicines,
and cleans the bathroom cabinet.

This reminds her to call the Doctor for a check up.
On the way downstairs to get the telephone number,
she notices the floor needs vacuuming.
Gets the vacuum cleaner,
and sees all of her handbags hanging on the hooks.

Distracted, she starts to look inside them.
Throws out a a pile of old lists,
seventeen hair ties and a melted lollipop.
A dirty cigarette packet,
but knows she doesn't smoke.
Puzzled, and embarrassed,
she remembers picking it up off the lawn months ago.

Thoughts of smoky handbags remind her to do the laundry,
and she forgets to call the Doctor.
As the laundry spins,
she begins to tidy the cellar.
Makes another pile of things for the garage sale,
wondering why on earth she wanted to do one in the first place.

The laundry done, she hears a drip,
but decides to ignore it.
Folds the laundry, opens the mail,
and fills the tea kettle with water.

As she waits for it to boil,
she absentmindedly wonders why the water is still running.
Perhaps the washing machine has turned back on,
or maybe it is starting to rain.
A lot.

She hears more noises in the cellar.
The cat is crying, and the phone is starting to ring.
So she just stops listening.
Her child is sick, at school,
and must be picked up immediately,
if not sooner.

Before she hangs up,
she is sweetly reminded that tomorrow she has to bring seven dozen sunflower yellow, frosted cupcakes to school.
473 dark blue napkins, 8 dozen bottles of water and 84 handwritten name tags.
In black ink, not blue or red.
Tomorrow. By 7:30am.

It's Children Appreciation Day.
Oh, and don't forget -
no gluten, no sugar, no peanuts, no dairy, no food coloring, and absolutely no mushrooms.

She drives to the school,
brings her child home, and puts her to bed.
With a bucket.
Which reminds her of water, and the crying cat.
Marooned on a shelf,
she finds him calmly watching as the water laps slowly, almost poetically, against the side of her new washing machine.

With the cat rescued and her daughter asleep, she turns off the water and fixes the burst pipe herself.
The Plumber can wait. 
She fills the tea kettle with water, 
finds her favorite cup,
drops the teabag in,
grabs a magazine,
smiles to herself
.....and finally takes that minute.

Written by Wendy E. Wrzos (Copyright 2012). The photograph is of my daughter, after she had baked her first batch of Butterfly Cakes, and the poem was inspired by Laura Numeroff's wonderful books for children.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Best Laid Plans

Some days don't always go as planned. I admit, I have been a bit neglectful (okay, a lot neglectful) with some parts of my life lately, but it's all good stuff, and I just know that one day it will all balance out and it will fit perfectly into the spaces where it is meant to be.

Anyway, this one particular morning, a few weeks ago, I was really looking forward to catching up with two of my dearest friends - one in the morning for coffee, and one in the afternoon for a cup of tea. It was important, and I couldn't wait to get in the house, take a shower and get my day going.

So, I arrived home early in the morning, turned the key in the lock....and it wouldn't open. It has been a little temperamental of late, so I wasn't concerned at all. Usually a few jiggles does the trick. I could hear the deadbolt click back and forth so I knew that it just needed a bit of coaxing to let me in. Meanwhile, my dog is crying on the other side; waiting for a quick pat on the head, a run outside and his cup of breakfast food. So, I try it over and over - almost convincing myself that perhaps overnight I had forgotten how to open my own front door, but it wouldn't budge.

Not wanting to give up, I went to the garage and grabbed a hammer and a screwdriver, sure I could just pop the lock. Surprisingly, that didn't work, and neither did throwing myself against the door like a raving lunatic. Not to be daunted, I grabbed the hammer and slowly waded through the thigh-high snow to the back door (hard to believe, but we had over two feet of snow quite recently). My thoughts of prying open the door, or climbing through a window, quickly became laughable as I realized my house was locked up tight and I wasn't about to squeeze my very ample bottom through a window any time soon.

Fortunately, a call to the local locksmith had him out in an hour, everything was replaced in record time, and I could happily get on with my day. But, a week of barely being home meant that my house did not look very clean and welcoming on that cold, Spring morning. It looked dusty, and, once again, there was that neglected word dancing around in my head, laughing and teasing me with its free-spirited taunting.

But, there was no time to clean. I literally pulled a brush through my hair, put on lip-gloss and left the house again. Several hours later I arrived home ten minutes before my friend arrived, and this is what I did in ten minutes.
  • Opened up the windows to freshen everything up.
  • Grabbed everything off the kitchen table, wiped it down and tipped my glass of water into a nearby plant.
  • Moved the few dishes from the sink to the dishwasher.
  • Checked the toilet was clean and wiped the counter with a wet glob of toilet paper.
  • Turned the tea kettle on, grabbed some clean cloth napkins and put a couple of chocolate biscuits on a pretty plate. 
Y'see, cleaning up doesn't have to be an all or nothing gig - a little something is always better than a whole lot of nothing :-)