A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Tag: mommy blog (Page 1 of 2)

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.

Five things I really hate.

While absentmindedly scrolling through my Twitter feed yesterday, I stumbled across this blog post title: Pet Hates. Not to be Confused with “Hates Pets.”

Which just goes to show you how important blog titles are. Because I thought to myself, that’s funny… I hate my pet sometimes. Like when Ike does this, this, this, or this.

But anyway, I clicked that compelling Twitter link, and read a very funny post about 5 things the author hates (none of which were pets). And it was awesome. I even left a comment… which (as you know, dear lurking reader) isn’t something one always (or in your case, ever) does. And then I clicked on another link in her post and found out that there is a whole society of list making bloggers!

Well sign me up for a hot, steaming side dish of THAT!

Brace yourselves, I’ve been brewing this list in my head for a long long time. In fact, boiling it down to just five is going to be harder than bringing Charlie Sheen home to meet your dad. (“But Dad… he calls me a Goddess!”)

So here it is, my first listography, Pet Hates:

1. Christmas Card Newsletters
I get it… your life is SO MUCH better than mine. As if I didn’t already know that when your card arrived on November 29th with an embossed return address and a Virgin Mary stamp. Bragger.

2. People who chew gum in church
I see you chewing your gum, mister. Now, what are you gonna do? Stick the gum under the pew before communion? Or swallow it? Or just tuck it over to the side of your yap hole while you consume the Blessed Sacrament? None of these are acceptable answers. Spit the gum out before church, asshole.

3. Baby showers
Yes, babies are cute. And yes, moms-to-be need stuff. But having to watch someone open hundreds of cloyingly pastel gifts while all the hens in the room cluck “awwwwWWWWWWW!!!!!” (gradually increasing in pitch, volume, and enthusiasm) over the 18th embroidered and appliquéd onesie, is just plain torture. At least the last one I went to had really tasty sangria to numb the pain and no humiliating games like “Guess the Girth of the Pregger.”

4. People who talk on their cell phones in public
Dude. You are in the waiting room of the Toyota service department with twelve other hostages customers. We do not want to hear about your gout or the fact that you “wish a pox on the family” of the client who screwed you. Jesus H. Christ. Or how about the lady behind you at the grocery store who is talking on her Bluetooth, but you don’t see the headset and you think she is talking to you? I hate that bitch.

5. Vagisil commercials
In general, all feminine hygiene ads just irk the hell out of me. But specifically, the newest Vagisil commercial where the sad and dejected looking woman in the public restroom is saying “I found out the hard way that not all cleansers eliminate vaginal odor,” while two women in the background are clearly gossiping about Ms. Stinky Pants. Really? You found out “the hard way?” Oh my God. Lady, you have much bigger problems than choosing a body wash. If it smells THAT bad, you might want to see your doctor a-sap. I’d also suggest some new friends and/or hobbies that don’t include waft-friendly positions like Downward Facing Dog.

Wow – that felt great! Listography, you are my new BFF. Just don’t invite me to your baby shower.


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

You better believe it.

I was wracking my brain to come up with a fabulous, life-altering tip I could share with you for my Just The Tip Tuesday feature today. And then I remembered this really charming motivational slogan and table scape I spied the other day at Kelly Is Inspired:

Check out the rest of her blog too! http://kellyisinspired.blogspot.com/

Cheese and crackers, I love those colors and textures together. Some people just have an eye for that kind of thing. And by some people, I mean not me. Sigh. I decorate like I parent… with a loud voice and a lot of apologies.

Anyhoo, those sassy pink Chucks reminded me of the very same ones my darling Mini-Me (formerly known as Klepto) wore and destroyed in less than 24 hours.












Which then got me thinking about what a passionate and intensely committed child my Mini-Me is, in every part of her life. We’re talking balls-to-the-wall, that girl.

And that’s when I remembered going through her school papers last week and finding this:

“I can Do it!”

It’s the back of her weekly timed math facts test. Just in case you can’t see the picture, it says in very neatly printed 2nd grader handwriting “I can Do it!” And it is circled for emphasis.

I didn’t teach her to do that. What, with all the shouting, and apologizing, and bad decorating – who has time to teach life skills?

So I asked her, “Honey? What’s this on the back of your test?”

And she said, very nonchalantly, “Oh, I just felt like writing it.”

“Where did you learn to do that?” I asked, thinking she must have copied it off someone else’s paper.

“Nowhere. It just came to me,” she replied.

So I enthused: “That is SO cool! Do you think it helped?”

“Shhhhya-ah! Look at my score! It was my highest ever!” (Like, duh Mom, totally.)

And I thought to myself: that is one awesome kid. At the tender age of eight, she already knows one of the secrets to the universe:

Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.
~ Henry Ford

Hot damn, I want to be just like her when I grow up.

Just with cleaner shoes.

Believe and achieve! Your friend,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

Dining Room Make-Under

Time for my weekly update on the 52 Weeks of Organizing project!

Can you believe it? This is already the end of week #8! Time sure flies when you’re gradually getting your sh*t together.

This week Laura challenged us to keep flat surfaces clear…a never ending battle for a gal like me. But last week I was so inspired by Ally’s Grandma who had posted before and after pictures of her dining room table, that I thought I’d tackle the same room in my own domestic prison. Oops! Did I say that out loud? I mean, house. Silly me.

My dining room is the first room you would see if I actually invited you into my house, which I’d never do, since it is such a friggin’ mess. But even if I didn’t open my front door all the way, you’d still get a peek at this room from my front porch if you were a Jehovah’s Witness or a pesky neighbor looking to borrow a cup of sugar. And that is pretty much all you’d need to see to know that there is something very very wrong with me.

Three weeks ago my mom came for a quick visit, and while she was scrubbing my toilets (out of love, horror, and pity), I was guilted into cleaning off the dining room table. It only took me an hour or so and by the time I was done, it was spotless. No big whoop. But that is not the problem.

One week later, while my kids were making their Valentines, the table magically morphed back into its natural state… a craft table/dumping ground/mail center/pet lounge:

Nature Boy and Gracie making Valentines in the dining room.

Here are a few more “before” shots (with a variety of angles and lighting), just so you can get the full picture of the cra-zay:

The view from my front door... so warm and inviting! Why yes those are slightly worn Pull-Ups on the stairs. So what?

Christmas village... still up Feb. 24th; extra car seat/purse holder; overflow pantry items.

So yesterday I spent another hour and put everything away where it really belongs (kinda). I even enlisted my husband’s help in packing up the last of the Christmas decorations. Note to self: must do that more often — delegating rocks! And today, drum-roll please… the room looks like this:

And this:

And this:

Ahhhhhhhhhh. So much better. Now let’s see how long I can make it last this time. Only, now how will I keep the Jehovah’s Witnesses away?! I can’t just crack open the door and pretend to be so overwhelmed anymore. Maybe they won’t want to come in if I open the door looking like this:

Really? You want to sell ME something? That's funny... I was about to tell you the exact same thing!"

Or this:

"Oh hello! DO come IN! I was just about to watch some Jeopardy... would you care to join me?"

Don’t think I won’t do it. I’m a bored crazy housewife lookin’ fer love in all the wrong places.

Anyhoooo…Laura challenged us to ponder the following questions this week:

1.  Do cluttered surfaces make you a little crazy? My answer: which came first, the chicken or the egg? Am I crazy because of the clutter, or do I have clutter because of the crazy? Deep thoughts. I will say that having clear surfaces (for once) makes me feel much better about my house and my life. It makes my husband and kids happier too. Bonus points.

2.  Are you managing to stay on top of your 52 weeks list? My answer: surprisingly, YES! This is our eighth week and I have completed 8 projects. Yay me! So far, I have organized my pantry, my linen closet, my coffee table drawers, my kitchen island, my kids’ DS cartridges, my kids’ Legos, my kitchen window sill, and all the flat surfaces in my dining room. AND, so far I have managed to keep all of these areas looking fabulous and uncluttered, except the kitchen island and the kids’ Legos. Statistically speaking? Not bad progress.

3.  Are you being motivated by your successes yet? My answer: a resounding YES!!! Each of these little successes is compounding into a true sense of accomplishment. I’ve never stuck with any kind of a program like this before, so I am very impressed with and motivated by the changes I’m seeing in my house, my routines, and myself. Eight down, 44 to go.

Only one problem…

as I’m decluttering and putting things away, I’m noticing that I tend to just move things around instead of making decisions about what to really do with them for the long term. Laura, The Organizing Junkie, says that clutter is just procrastinated decisions. So true. I’m a master procrastinator… why do today what you can put off until tomorrow? So I’m kind of dreading what it will be like to finally tackle THIS:

The Mother of all dumping grounds: basement storage room.

Wish me luck with that, would ya?!


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

Talkin’ Trash

Last Saturday my two oldest kids and I volunteered to participate in a neighborhood roadside cleanup party. I thought it would be a nice way to serve my community, spend some quality time with the kids, and get some fresh air.

We were told there would be garbage bags and orange vests. I was picturing us pretending to be a chain gang from Cool Hand Luke. This was going to be FUN!

Dear God, please don't let this be a glimpse of her future.


Just so you know, if anyone ever tells you they are bringing orange vests (plural) to an outdoor manual labor party, you should assume that they only have TWO of them. In other words, BYOV (bring your own vest) or wear brightly colored clothing just to be on the safe side. I learned this the hard way. I’m kind of trusting and/or a dumb ass like that.

Luckily I got there early and snagged the only two vests for my own children. Then another family with young kids showed up and my 11 year old future Saint, Nature Boy, offered his vest up to a 5 year old little girl. Whoever said “Chivalry is dead,” has obviously never met my Nature Boy. God, I love that kid.

My very pregnant good friend Mama Cloud and her two boys showed up too so I knew we were going to have a good time, with or without proper safety gear.

Turns out there is a reason most counties use convicted felons for this kind of work: it is really hard and extremely dangerous. We were handling all kinds of broken glass and rusty cans. We were in and out of thorny ditches that probably housed all sorts of venomous snakes and spiders. In fact come to think of it, this was the same road where I was bitten by that snapping turtle last year. Not one of my prouder moments. I’ll have to tell you that story sometime if I ever get over the PTSD.

But the most dangerous thing was the traffic. I can’t tell you how many cars went flying by us while we were out there picking up other people’s trash. Mama Cloud and I would holler and wave our arms and try to signal to the drivers to slow-the-f*ck-down, but most of them were so busy talking on their phones and/or applying makeup and/or doing the crossword puzzle and/or eating their breakfast burritos that they didn’t even notice us.

We were an inappropriately clad volunteer army of children, parents, senior citizens, and one pregnant woman. It is a miracle that nobody was hurt, or worse. The whole experience really infuriated me, actually. We don’t litter. Ever. I mean, who does that? And there we were, with our CHILDREN, picking up after assholes who just don’t give a hoot.

And we were picking up their Skoal canisters, cigarette butts, Bud Light cans, Seagram’s wine cooler bottles, and on one occasion, a used tampon applicator. Talk about trash.

That was our favorite find of the day… the used tampon applicator. Thank the Lord we were all wearing gloves. Can’t you just see someone cruising down the road, singing along with Wynona, texting her BFF, and changing her tampon at the same time? Then flinging the plastic applicator out the window along with a Mountain Dew bottle, some scratch off lotto tickets, and her kid’s empty Happy Meal bag. Yeah… her. To whom I’d just like to say: thanks lady… you provided me with lots of new conversation topics for my kids.

"Uh, Mom? What is this?"

So that was my first and (hopefully) last experience being part of an unpaid roadside chain gang. At the end of the day, we all felt really good about doing our part to Keep America Beautiful. I am really proud to live in a neighborhood where 17 people would take time out of their weekends to clean up a mess they certainly did not make. However… I can guaran-damn-tee you that I will not be taking my kids out there again, in harm’s way, to clean up after the litterbugs of the world. Just not worth the risk. We’ll have to find another way to save the earth.

You know what we need? We need more commercials like the crying Native American PSA from the 70s. Remember that one? I swear, between that guy and Woodsy the Owl, I definitely got the message as a kid that littering is just NOT okay. I guess we have bigger fish to fry these days, like fighting childhood obesity and keeping our kids off meth. But come on, guys… “give a hoot, don’t pollute. Don’t you be a dirty bird. In the city or in the woods, help keep America (bomp bomp) looking good!”

Tsk tsk,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

Clutter Rehab: A Book Report by Iris Beard

So my very own copy of Clutter Rehab: 101 Tips and Tricks to Become an Organization Junkie and Love It! by Laura Wittmann arrived in the mail yesterday and I curled up on my couch and read that cute little book cover to cover!

And man oh man have I been doing it all wrong for 41 years.

On the VERY FIRST PAGE, in the very VERY FIRST PARAGRAPH, Laura says:

Let me start right off by admitting my little secret: I’m an organization addict. Yes, it’s true! But this doesn’t mean I have all my soup cans lined up in pretty little rows with their labels facing out, my spices alphabetized, or perfectly color-coordinated bins and baskets. My sheets aren’t folded and stacked pristinely, and I don’t make my kids sort their Legos by color!


Uh… I totally just spent a week of my life sorting Legos and then spent over $100 on a Swedish-engineered storage masterpiece. Seriously. The handle on my 3 year old pleather Target purse is broken and shedding little vinyl dingleberries everywhere I go, but I spent $100 on a fancy toy box? What is wrong with me?

What would Laura have done?

Oh, here it is, Tip #15: Organizing doesn’t have to be expensive–make do.

Damn it.

Wanna know what else I’m doing wrong?


What I used to think were oh-so-clever labeled and color coded laundry sorting bins.

Yes, Laura says “Stop sorting your laundry” (tip # 86). She just puts a basket in each of her three kids’ closets and when the basket is full, the whole load goes right in the washer. Brilliant!!! She does have a few other laundry tips on that page to keep the colors from running, but I don’t want to give the milk away for free, if you know what I mean. You’ll just have to get her book if you really want to know (and you do, believe me!). But truly, she said this tip was LIFE CHANGING for her. And can you imagine how much easier it would be to put clothes away, or even have the kids do it, if the whole basket was filled with just one kid’s stuff? I’m going to rip those fancy shmancy labels right off and stick one hamper in each kid’s closet… pronto. And you know what else… I’m going to take it to the next level and teach my 11 year old Nature Boy to just do his own damn laundry. Of course I’ll have to clean out the laundry room first since I’m the only one in this house who knows where the detergent is and the difference between a Tide To Go Stick and a Clorox Bleach Pen. Stupid men. But anyway… I’ll just add it to my list… as soon as I find it. Not kidding.

There is ONE thing I’ve been doing right that I think might make my organizing guru proud… Tip # 78: Designate a charging station. I created this little custom space saving charging station all by myself a few weeks ago. Laura is all about re-purposing items for creative storage solutions and utilizing valuable “real estate” efficiently. I think this one is a winner! How about you?

My custom cat litter box and charging station. Super!


Okay seriously. Get this book. Totally worth it. I pretty much own every organizing book ever written, and this one, by far, is the most practical and user friendly one in my collection. I’ve tried Feng Shui, I’ve tried Fly Lady, I’ve tried Peter Walsh, I’ve even tried books written especially for people with A.D.D. I’m also a subscriber to the Organizer Lady daily Yahoo group newsletter. None of them compare to Clutter Rehab or Laura’s blog, I’m an Organizing Junkie, in my humble opinion.

Well… get to it. Your house is not going to organize itself, you know.

with love and optimism,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

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