Thursday, September 17, 2015

How to keep your house clean all the time without even trying

Some companies make lots of money teaching you how to organize your house and your time.  They say that in order to be a happy person you should have a seven-day-a-week plan of attack to keep your house in order.  There is lots of mopping, dusting, laundry (and sweating) to do.  They will sell you a daily, weekly and monthly calendar to track your progress (and judge your failures).

Organized yet?

NO MORE!  In two steps I am going to teach you how to minimize your cleaning time and maximize your leisure time.  And it's FREE!

Ready to revolutionize your household?

Step 1) Take all of your stuff and throw it out.

Step 2) Sit back and enjoy all the free time.

too much stuff?

Ok...obviously I'm joking.

But...not really

There is truth to this. BIG truth. REAL truth.  The more stuff you have, the more time it takes YOU to put it away.  You  have to balance how much stuff you want with how much time you want to spend cleaning it.

I know from experience, not only from having a big house with too much stuff...but also having a tiny house with too much stuff.  If you follow my blog you probably know that I almost NEVER show pictures.

Why you ask?

CAUSE IT'S ALWAYS A MESS! not everyone is ready for this, so I have another idea...which I found out of desperation. I call it garbage bag downsizing. Go into a room and throw everything that is not essential to life in a garbage bag. In particular bag up those items that seem to never have a home, or always end up making cleaning harder. If the item has a home, it's used lots, or it is adored, put it away...otherwise GARBAGE BAG.

Once you're done bagging up the room, take the bags out and put them somewhere where you can't see them. Now go back and tidy up the room as if you were having company.  For the next few weeks, keep it THAT should find that it's easy to keep it clean because there is nothing much to mess it up. (and everything else has a clear home to go back to) When you wake up to the fact that having less stuff is AMAZING. Pull out the bags and one by one go through them. Sort them into piles of keep, maybe and donate. At the end, go back through maybe and place it into keep or donate. If you can easily put your keep pile back into the room, and those things have a home, great, do it. If not, back in the bag! Repeat the process again.

I did this the day of our open house, frankly because I didn't know how else to get it clean in time! It's been nearly two weeks, and it is STILL spotless.  (And when it's not, it takes 10 minutes to clean!) When the stuff is gone, it's almost impossible not to keep clean.  Why didn't I get rid of everything 2 years ago when we moved onto the boat?!?! (The answer is because I get easily overwhelmed and look for distractions to the real things I need to do.)

Be light.

I have never regretted getting rid of anything.  The more I get rid of, the lighter the emotional burden on myself.  Truly.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Quitting School...again

My homeschooled daughter surprised me a few weeks ago by begging me to let her go to public school. I didn't love the idea at first, but I listened, and ultimately I let her make the choice. I was surprised to find that many people (friends and family included) seemed shocked that I let her go.

I am a firm believer in doing what is right for yourself, and living your best life. So I'm not sure why it would be surprising that I would let my daughter try and do the same. More importantly, my daughter needs to learn how to trust her own gut instinct, not mine.

Sometimes timing is everything, because this week this list showed up in my Facebook feed, 50 lessons I wish I had learned earlier, printed by Family on Bikes. It's a great list for all walks of life; whether you want to travel full time, send your kid to school, or just find contentedness in where you are. It's about how to live your life smarter, better...and be the version of you that you were meant to be.

"Giving up doesn’t always mean you’re weak, sometimes it means you are strong enough and smart enough to let go."

This one was number 37, and it resonated a lot with me, especially this week. After bravely entering the 4th grade with her peers, she came home that first afternoon glowing with pride. At first, there were only great days. Which gave way to  good days...which then became ok days. At which point she came to the conclusion that school was simply not all that she thought it would be. She began to see it by the 3rd day, and while she loved the social interaction, it simply wasn't enough to balance the limitations of a traditional classroom.

The lack of freedom was the first thing she recognized as a problem for her. She couldn't sit around and read, crochet, play guitar, talk or even poop when she wanted. (yes, she was really disappointed about the pooping part, she likes to take her time and read) She was always being carted here or there, being told when to sit, when to eat, when to talk, etc. For most of us, we shrug and think...obviously, that's what school is...she needs to learn that lesson. I went to public school all my life...I remember it well. But here's the thing, she is not required to be there. She has a choice. Since she was there by her own choice, she was just as free to choose not to be there. And what she realized is that she would much rather be able to go to the beach, the forest, the library...or stay at home in her loft and read.

Wouldn't you?

The next thing she noticed is that everyone babied them. For a girl who can crochet anything, read anything and cook anything...she was suddenly being treated like a baby who could make no decisions on her own. (I remember hating that too.) My daughter is a very capable girl, and it is offensive and frustrating for her when people treat her otherwise.

I am thankful that my daughter tried this new experience, had some fun with it, and ultimately made her own mind up about it. And I am REALLY glad we have the freedom to allow our kiddos the choice as to whether they want to attend school or not. It makes me sad that other children, even when the circumstances are bad, do not have that same freedom. Freedom, I believe, is the key to happiness in life. And I think it's an important lesson to  learn to let go of those things that are not serving you.  Often in our modern world we equate this with quitting, and tell people they should suck it up, it will make them stronger. But that is simply not true for most things.

If it isn't making you happy, if it doesn't make you a better not be afraid to let it go. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

M/V Wanderlust ready for sale

This is bittersweet.

We finally have the houseboat looking perfect. All the projects are finally done, it's clean and organized...and now it's time to sell it.

These two years have been such an amazing gift for us.  We've learned so much about ourselves, and bonded so much as a family.  I feel like our hearts are in this boat.


It doesn't help that I tore out the entire inside and built it to look exactly the way I wanted.  I built the kitchen cabinet.  I built the pantry.  I built the shelves, and the kids beds.  I even built the doors and the stairs.

I put so much of myself into this place, it's hard to walk away from it.

Don't feel too bad for me.  

We are giving up this one piece of us to live our next big adventure.  I wouldn't trade our travel plans for anything...truly.  But that doesn't mean I won't miss the old girl. Hopefully the M/V Wanderlust will be as treasured by it's next owners as it was by us.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

One last ride...and me without my camera

We have a buyer for our boat, and we needed to take it out for a final ride to make sure everything was in good working order. What a perfect night to take it out. It's like the planets aligned just for us. From across the boat-ramp our sailboat-living friends on the S/V Nadejda were out on their dock, so the kids shouted back and forth to eachother while Jon and I got the boat ready. (Check out their website, they are amazing...9 people on one sailboat!)

The ride was perfect. The water was flat, the sky was full of wondrous colors, and the kids got to take their final turns driving the boat. And I...forgot the camera...again. Forgot-the-camera should be my middle name. Thankfully Jon had the camera on his work phone, which isn't the best quality...but at least I got some pictures. 

Instead of posting those here though, I will post these...3 years of memories on our little boat.

Three years ago we bought this boat and took it out for it's first cruise, having no idea that our future life would hold early retirement and full time travel. Three years later as we took it out for it's last spin around Pennock Island so many things have changed...but not the beauty of Southeast Alaska. 

On the ride home as the sun was shining it's last rays over the mountains there was the biggest rainbow we've ever seen, and by the time we got home the skies above the docks were a gorgeous flaming orange and pink.

It was a truly amazing night. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Why I sent my homeschooler to public school.

Well, I can tell you this, it was not by choice. At least it wasn't by MY choice. My newly 10-year old daughter up and decided, the day before public school kiddos were back in session, that she wanted to be a part of them.

 First day jitters...she wasn't so sure when it was 
actually time to walk in.

What do you do when your homeschooled daughter tells you she wants to go to school?

You calmly let her explain why, and then let her make her own informed decision...obviously.

Well, I get credit, because I did do that. Sort of. I did let her explain, and I did pretend to understand. Then I walked around like an injured zombie for the rest of the day. (I also broke down and cried...but only once...and only for a second.)

By the fourth day she was a pro! Made her own 
lunch, and was off the boat 30 minutes early!

Boy oh boy.  Sometimes those stinkin' kids of ours have their own minds and we just gotta go with it. (Yes Mom, I see the irony in the situation.) To be honest, it isn't a huge commitment since we're leaving to travel in two months anyway. It's more like a social experiment; a homeschooled kid in a public school world.

The cool thing is, taking a step back and looking at the situation...she's living exactly the way we're trying to help her to be willing to try something live her best not be afraid to try for something she wants. Maybe our life changes have already helped her grow...and if that's true, who am I to stand in her way?

Her brother walked in with her to show support

For normal kids going to school would be no big deal...but for my kid, whose comfort zone is homeschooling, choosing this is the path unknown. I'm actually pretty damn impressed that she chose to step out of her comfort zone and try something not only new...but a little bit scary.

"Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try."

Now, I won't lie, this homeschooling mama felt a little lost at first. I started to worry that mixing our very simple intentional lifestyle with public school kids would bring back a lot of the things that we've taken out of our lives. Most school kids have iphones, cable tv, new first-day outfits...and years of experience dealing with public school kids. And to be honest, I like my no-nonsense gal exactly as she is. I don't want her to come home talking about fashion trends, TV shows and asking for an iphone! (She hasn't asked, but she has informed me that only she and one other girl in her class don't have a cell phone.)

I can't speak for the changes to her personality over the next 60 days...only time can tell. But I can honestly say that the girl I picked up after the first day was glowing. She was so proud of herself for doing it, and for breaking free and being her own person. It's only been three days, but I'm pretty sure she's grown up a little bit more in that time.

Look at that face...that's a proud face.

The good thing is, she wants to do this, and it gives her an idea of what school is like, so if she wants to try again (or not) at least she will have this experience to help her decide. I don't know how long we will travel, or when we will stop and grow roots any more life experience that she can take with her is a good thing. 

At least I hope so!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

My Home

I am so excited about our upcoming travels...but I will miss this place so much. Not just Ketchikan, but our marina, our yacht club and our boat. I know it sounds strange, but even doing the laundry is fun...every time I walk down the dock to put in a load I see seals, otters, eagles, salmon and sea is truly a wonder. 

It not only makes me feel grateful for this life, but it makes me feel alive.

I never felt alive doing laundry in my regular just seemed like a chore.

This picture was NOT taken by me. (I wish!) This is a local photographer, Mike Gates, and he posted it on our local Ketchikan Facebook Photography page, and I just had to share it.

This is my marina...and yes, it is THAT beautiful.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Goldfish Party at Settlers Cove

Laurel's biggest birthday yet (10 years old!) is also the last birthday we'll celebrate in Alaska.  And it was one that will never be forgotten.

She chose to have her final Alaskan birthday on the beach again, but this time we decided to rent the cabin at Settlers Cove.  This way if it rained we could move all the food inside.  And, as an added bonus, when the  party was over we sat by the dying fire, watched the sun fade into the sea and then crawled into the cabin and read our family novel by lantern light.

I have never seen a child glow like this.

Thankfully Alaska provided the entertainment.  Except for few moments to refuel on food, or whack the pinata; mostly the kids were running through the woods, climbing trees, walking along the beach and playing in the cabin.

We had good friends, good food and a beautiful view.  I don't think you can ask for more than that.

It was perfect.

(And since Laurel made the cookies and the pinata, all I had to do was the cake...which fell over twice on the way to the cabin. Yes...twice.)

The next day Luke woke up with his eye like this...don't know what bit him...but it ain't pretty.

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