A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Ask and ye shall receive.

“Ask and ye shall receive.”

I don’t know who said that, but hot damn if it ain’t the God’s honest truth.

(Kidding, I know who said that. It was Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, right?)

Earlier this week I was in a major funk about the state of my house and the fact that I had not finished any of my 52 Weeks of Organizing projects lately. I suspected that if I could just focus and complete something, it would help me tremendously. So I declared my intentions to the universe.

And lo and behold, help arrived.

My organizing guru, Laura, THE Org Junkie, heard my plea and responded with the just in time medicine I needed: a fabulous post titled Finish what you start. It is filled with such good advice that I don’t even mind her blaming ME for her being a little hard on all of us this week! (Sorry guys. It’s for our own good.)

Laura encouraged us to update and reprioritize our lists! Holy cheese! That is just the lightbulb I needed. My priorities HAVE shifted dramatically since I began this journey 24 weeks ago. Almost losing 14,000 digital photos can do that to a gal.

But I never would have thought to update my list! What a great idea!

Iris' Original 52 Weeks of Organizing List

When I look back at my original list, it really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me anymore. I think it needs a major overhaul. So that’s something I’ll be working on next week.

This week, however, as promised, I focused on my office desk, the office floor, and my new computer. And I actually accomplished something! Staying focused in one room made a huge difference. (The rest of my house looks like shit, but I don’t care…I’m on a mission, ya’ll!)

But before I can show you my progress, first I have to show you something shocking!

"One of these things is not like the other one. One of these things just doesn't belong. Can you tell which thing is doing its own thing? Now, before I finish my song."

Ooops, not that one.

In the process of organizing some of my photos, I came across this old picture of my home office/den in 2004:

Pretty tidy, wouldn’t you say? This picture was taken about a year after we moved to this house. That was before we had a dog, or a third tornado child.

Fast forward a few years…

Look at the dog's face! Even he can't stand it here. And do you see what Mini-Me is doing in the background? Tossing my paperwork into the air. Nice.

Hello chaos. I’m Iris. Nice to meetcha.

That was Autumn, 2008. We had recently added hardwood floors and French doors. We painted the hallway and the home office. Like you can even tell with all that clutter in the way. Let’s face it, no amount of buttercream frosting can hide the fact that the cake underneath is made of crap.


You would think that finding $1463 worth of free money in that room would have motivated me to keep it more organized.

Uh, nope.

That really happened, by the way. One thousand, four hundred, sixty-three dollars. Fo shizzle.

It was January 2009, not long after that picture above with the three kids and the dog was taken.

You know how January goes… new year, new resolutions. I was bound and determined to get our home office under control. So I started moving piles around and putting like with like. That’s when I found a stack of unopened envelopes from my health insurance company. Thinking they were just monthly statements, I had never opened them. Smooth move, Ex-Lax.

So one night I sat in front of the TV and started going through that stack one envelope at a time. Sure enough, they weren’t statements. They were reimbursement checks! And they were 9 months old and about to expire. If I had not found them when I did, all that money would have been lost.

That, by the way, was what got me on the Oprah show in March of that year. Well my voice anyway, and a bunch of pictures of me, my family, and my messy messy house. Ahhhh, good times.

But here we are two years later, and I haven’t really made a ton of progress on that home office since then. Here’s a picture I took about a week ago:

"Honey call 911! We've been robbed! Oh wait...nevermind."

Lord have mercy! Every time I come home to this I think I’ve been burglarized. Only I haven’t. The thief is ME and I’m robbing myself and my family of a better life. That’s crazy.

But I’m proud to say that I am a woman of my word and I cleared that messy floor this week:

Keep your eyes on the floor... ignore the bookshelves.

I followed Laura’s advice and put a big basket by the door to gather all the items that didn’t belong in my office. Still haven’t put that stuff where it really belongs, but baby steps, right? We’re going for progress, not perfection.

Now I’ve got stacks of organized, manageable piles around the perimeter of the room that I plan to tackle one by one over the next few weeks: medical papers, warranties, kids’ artwork, things to frame, the recipe pile, etc. I’ve also got to organize that bookshelf so it doesn’t look so messy. I always wanted to paint it or stain it too, but for now, I’ll settle for tidy.

I’m feeling much less overwhelmed! I CAN do this. One little pile at a time.

Special thanks again to Laura the Org Junkie for all her support and expertise! I’ve definitely made more progress in the past week than I’ve made in the past two years! Thank you, Laura!

Can’t wait to show you all my progress next week. I’m going to stick with this room until it is complete! Come back next week and see!

Enthusiastically yours,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.


  1. Julie

    Yay for you and your clean floor!!! I was broken into earlier this year, and had to explain to the cops that ‘no that room was not ransacked, it is always this messy.’ Sad but true. I love the ‘spirit’ your mini hurricanes posses- reminds me of my own. I love your beard, reminds me of my own( my boy calls them my prickles, but really just a full grown beard), your cow jeans(how could you throw them? I’m certain school pick up or Sunday school class would never be the same with out the camel toe!) and the fact you can laugh at yourself and more importantly others! I will continue to stalk you and your blog from Perth, Australia!

    • Debbie M

      Reminds me of when my brother was a kid and a fire started in his room and we had to explain to the insurance adjusters that no, the fire had not reached all the way to the model space ships hanging from the ceiling on the other side of the room–He had charred them deliberately. And no, he does not have a problem with fire and absolutely did not start this one!

  2. Barefeet In The Kitchen

    Way to go!! That’s some serious work, girl. What is it about offices that just calls for every stray bit of paper, junk and such to migrate there? UGH. Enjoy that lovely tidy space!

  3. Alison@Mama Wants This

    Yay, any progress is progress! And that room sure looks more like a room now 🙂

    And yes, you can do it! Go forth and organize!

  4. Danielle@sixtasteschef

    I love this, thanks for sharing your pictures. (And thanks for reminding me I have to file that paperwork on my desk….)

    You are fabulous. Organizing an ENTIRE FAMILY’S paperwork YOURSELF is no mean feat!

  5. Laura

    Thata girl!!!

  6. Megan

    Oh I sooooooo need to get back on that organizing bandwagon! You made it longer than me — I bailed around week 11. Oh well. I’m going to follow in your footsteps and go rewrite that goal list…

  7. Megan

    p.s. in the Great Filing Project of 2010 I too found $$ — $1,000 in an envelope that I was getting ready to shred!!! Kudos to us for opening envelopes!! 😉

    • The Bearded Iris

      So awesome, Megan!!! I LOVE opening envelopes now.

  8. Anne @ Domesblissity

    Oh Iris, you’re so inspirational! I actually saw that mention on Laura’s blog and remember reading your post. I’ve been following Laura’s blog for a while now too and still nowhere near closer to having a deluttered or tidy house (as tidy as “I” would like). It came just at the right time for me as I was also feeling so overwhelmed as to where to start. Needless to say, I haven’t started today. I’ve baked instead. You gotta eat, right? There’s always tomorrow.

    I just love Ike’s face and his left ear pricked up. It’s like he’s saying “this photo’s all about me, me, me – don’t worry about trying to capture those rascals behind me”. Love it!

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    Anne @ Domesblissity

  9. Jamie

    You have inspired me to pick up my list again, and dust it off, and not quit just yet. Thank you for your photos, your brave honesty, and your humor!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Oh that’s wonderful Jamie!! So happy to have helped!

  10. Kate Yarris

    Great job, Iris! You’re an inspiration… (to us lazy-ass people.) Keep calm and carry on.

  11. desinap

    WOW! What a great job. Where are the kids ducktaped? You have inspired me not to turn my unused formal living room into an office as I have always craved. Look what hot mess will erupt should I make that unfortunate decision!!

    I did, however, get some wild hair from you and decided to start the summer with clean clean organized bedrooms in Drama and Dora’s rooms…Only possible with a large trash bag and sleepovers elsewhere. I don’t get the organizing bug often but when it happens just stand back and let her rip. They have now been informed that I will peruse their rooms before they have permission to go anywhere or do anything this summer. No fun till your room’s done! Rrrrrrrr. I give thanks to my dear friend, Amy, for inspiring the new Gulag atmosphere in our house ; )

  12. Allysgrandma

    What a great post to come home too after dropping K&A at the airport in Sacramento at 5:20 a.m. and driving the 5+ hours home. I decided to stop trying to make a to-do list while driving when I almost ran off the road. DH said “sorry the house is a mess”. Isn’t he sweet, I think he has alterior motives now that we are once again empty nesters!

    I am feeling motivated too and I’d better the way my house looks!

  13. Dwell

    Ahhh, so nice to have you back . . . look forward to reading next week’s success. Your office looks great – just corralling all the junk makes a big difference. You can work on the big basket later 🙂

  14. Martha (MM)

    Excellent progress! I am so proud of you!! What you said about the dog in that one photo just cracked me up – but of course you always have something that cracks me up no matter what!

  15. northernmum

    I have mild ocd when it comes to tidying, everything has to go away in a cupboard. My beloved iris if you didn’t live on another continent I would come and Monicaise your home for you…….


    • The Bearded Iris

      Oh I would love that! I definitely do not have enough cupboards or cabinets or closets to hide stuff, so I need to focus on having less stuff to hide!


  16. Shannon

    I did the same thing with reimbursement cheques…it was a nice addition to our bank account. Congratulations on finding the floor (and thank you for inspiring Laura’s post…I needed that kick in the pants!)

  17. Didi

    Iris, WTG!!!!! Look at what you’ve accomplished, girl, BE PROUD OF YOURSELF!!! Gawd, I so remember when my kids were younger, I would literally rip the hair out of my head, (not joking)… I had 5 all under the age of 11, UGH!!!!

    I’m a neat freak, and my house is spotless. Just the way I like it… but looking back. I still like the tickle sessions in the midde of the living room floor!!! If I could only roll back the years.. I’d take the mess, seriously!!!
    Of course w/ Barney in the background!! Dating myself??? LOL

    Awesome job!!

  18. Heather

    “We’re going for progress, not perfection.” – I needed that. I’m going to repeat it in my head all day and see what I can come up with!! (… and your voice was on Oprah? You are my idol!)

  19. Jessica

    Loving your blog and the straight up truth you are sharing. I follow several blogs written by moms, and although I love the crafts and the beatific scenes they paint, I can’t help but feel an inferiority complex creep up after awhile- and I don’t even have kids yet!!

    I’m usually a chronic lurker but I just had to share this link with you- http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/10/god-of-cake.html
    That picture of Mini-me with your papers was just… spot on.

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