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Easy and Impossible.

The house is officially on the market with an MLS listing and everything. It’s been almost 48 hours and no one has come to see it so I’m already have visions of 12-month upkeep of this damn clean house and I’m considering drinking my blues away and it’s only 4:10am.

But then I remember that our old house was bought by the 2nd person to see it. And it still took about 6 weeks. So, you know, CHILL OUT KIM.

It is weird how I find the upkeep of this clean house both easy and impossible at the same time. When I’m doing small things like putting up a toy that has been left in the middle of the floor (because nagging my kids 100 times a day to pick up after themselves does NOTHING) it seems so easy to keep things clean. One toy! One second! No big deal! But then I vacuum my bedroom for the second time in a week and I think there is no way I can vacuum every few days for the entirety that the house is on the market. NO WAY. Especially when 3 hours later I notice all of the dirt on the carpet from the kids just coming in and out from playing. Then it REALLY feels impossible because I WILL NOT VACUUM MORE THAN ONCE A DAY. NO, SIR.

But it doesn’t take too long to make the beds, and putting up the laundry when it’s done is way easier than waiting until there are 5 loads to put up. And scrubbing sinks or counters several times a day has become just a habit I don’t even think about so…EASY!

And then the dog leaves muddy footprints on my hardwoods and I have to steam mop the floor for the 3rd time this week and I decide it’s impossible all over again. And is there any point in ever cleaning the windows? Or dusting? How did I never notice before how fast dust accumulates on surfaces? Or how little time it takes my dog to put nose prints on every window in the house? IMPOSSIBLE!

48 hours in and I’m already experiencing this kinda of frenzy so, you know, let’s hope this thing sells fast!

I will say this – it is so nice living in a clean home. I usually only clean this “deep” (it’s “deep clean” for us, but for a lot of people it’s probably not) when we’re hosting family dinner or having people over. So, maybe 8-10 times a year? Tops? And it only stays that way for 24 hours. But since pictures were last Friday the house has been this clean now for FIVE DAYS and I’m just LOVING it. It’s amazing how nice it feels to walk around in a house that is clean, I never thought I cared but I think maybe I just chose not to care because if how much I love this clean house is any indication…I CARE A LOT.

Welp. Time to wrap this one up because there’s laundry to be folded (EASY!) and floors to be swept (IMPOSSIBLE!) for the 95th time this week.

I can not believe these are my kids' rooms.

The Value of Now

For the last week as I was getting the house ready for photos, I was kinda practicing keeping it “show ready” because I needed everything to stay ready for photos on Friday. It was a good practice considering the house goes on the market on Monday. The secret I’ve learned already is that – the longer you put off facing something? The worse it gets.

My kids own the upstairs of our house. There is the “living room” up there with the big TV, but the big TV has been dead for a long time and we had all stopped watching TV up there anyway. Since we gave up cable, TV is something we’re more deliberate about. “It’s time to watch Flash,” instead of, “I’m just going to veg out in front of the TV for awhile.” I tend to watch shows the kids watch too (like Flash) so we just became the family that curled up in our big bed and watched TV together since it was our pre-bedtime type of ritual. So, the upstairs living room? Became a ghost town.

The only other rooms upstairs are Nikki’s and Wes’s rooms and their playroom. So, in reality, I never had any reason to go up there. And I did rarely because I never really wanted to see the devastation that would occur after hours alone up there. I would avoid it, deliberately, just so I wouldn’t have to see the destruction. I would only see it when I put the kids to bed or woke them up and that was easy to blind myself to since I was focusing on bedtime or getting ready for school.

I’m basically the Scarlet O’Hara of housework.

This week has been a good “trial” period because the kids haven’t been home much. But, I’ve been seeing any excuse to go upstairs and TAKING IT. And then looking around and grabbing the socks that are on the floor, or putting up the Nerf Sword, or closing a closet door…the little things that add up to giant disaster areas when you put it off for days. And y’all? It’s crazy how clean I’ve been able to keep things.

I can not believe these are my kids' rooms.

I can not believe these are my kids’ rooms.

This morning I’ve bee doing laundry. This is another thing that has changed to “now” rather than “later”. I keep caught up on the laundry, but I never put the clothes away. They just stay sorted and folded in the baskets in the laundry room. But for the last weeks? I’ve been practicing putting them away as soon as their done and you know what? It only takes a few minutes if you do it one load at a time. When I do it after 5 weeks of laundry? It takes an hour! But this morning, I put Wes’s clothes up as soon as I was done sorting them and it took less than 5 minutes. Plus it forced me upstairs where I threw a few stuffed animals in a toy box.

And last night, I noticed our shower needed some scrubbing. So, you know what I did? I scrubbed the shower. Right then. I’m not used to “cleaning” as I’m the type of person who just likes things picked up, but doesn’t care about scum on the baseboards or dog nose prints on the windows. But to show the house I have to care about that stuff, so I’m training myself to notice it. And instead of just putting off that spot on the shower for “bathroom day” – I just took care of it then. In the NOW. Instead of waiting until LATER.

I think that’s what I’ve learned. The reason I hated cleaning baseboards was that as a whole task around the whole house? It’s seemed like a giant waste of time. But if I see a spot on the baseboard in E’s room and I wipe it down right then? It’s less of a monstrous task and more of a one-second thing I can do on my way to pee.

I know people like the Fly Lady swear by the whole single tasks on one day thing – like Windows on Wednesday! But it seems maybe that’s why I’ve hated cleaning all along. Looking at it like giant tasks makes me want to hide under the bed and cry. But if I just do it when I notice it, it’s less overwhelming. I’m never going to keep my house Fly Lady clean, but I can keep it clean enough to make it show worthy. And I can do that easier if I do small tasks when they need to be done instead of giant tasks on a calendar. And this is easier if I just allow myself to walk around the house regularly so I can see those small tasks that need to be done before they become giant tasks.

It may seem like I’m cleaning all the time that way, and maybe I am, but for some reason it makes it WAY less intimidating or overwhelming. I let the dog out, I notice a spot on the glass, I clean it. I put the kids to bed and notice the door handle is grimy, so I wipe it down. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but I’ve learned that for me? Tending to the cleaning in small moments of “NOW” throughout my day makes me way less miserable than thinking of giant tasks in the “LATER” of the week.

Of course, I’m sure in a month I’ll hate it all.

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How Does My Hair Look?

It’s photo day!!! Our house is getting it’s picture taken today! After 2 years of talking about selling our house, it finally goes on the market on Monday. I’m surprised by how not-freaked out I am. I am way more relieved than anything. Yes, we’re going to have to keep the house clean, but we’ve been practicing that for about a week and it’s not as hard as I thought it would be. HOWEVER – the kids are on Spring Break next week so this will be a true test. I’m thinking about doing “drills” next week. Faking “It’s time to show the house!” and give everyone a list of things they’re responsible for.

  • Bathroom baskets placed under the sink – Wesley.
  • Beds made – Nikki.
  • Sink emptied – Donnie.
  • Beer shotgunned – Kim.

I’ve got almost everything they said they’d photograph ready for pictures today. And then this weekend we’ll put some of the things back that we cleared out for photos but that we need for daily life (like my crockpot and my toaster) – and we’ll get everything clean and ready for showing before the sign goes in the yard on Monday. I CAN’T BELIEVE IT IS HAPPENING. Our realtor calmed me a little bit because, since our house does need updating (hence the low price-per-sqft), she said she’s not as worried about making sure it’s show-room perfect. I was worried that maybe we needed to do some painting or repairing of wallpaper in places that are still beat up from when we bought it. But she pointed out that anyone who buys our house is going to be like us – wanting it for the space regardless of the updates. Or someone who wants the good deal so they can do the updates on their own. This made me feel MUCH better about everything and much more relaxed. Also – it’s VERY true. Our house is definitely going to have a specific appeal so there’s no need in wasting time or money catering to people who probably won’t even come look at it.

Being more relaxed about it is a good thing! Less crying!

Kids room are ready for pictures on Friday!!

A photo posted by Kim Holmes (@misszoot) on

The kids' bathroom is unrecognizable!

A photo posted by Kim Holmes (@misszoot) on

I can’t believe how clean I got the kid’s rooms AND the kid’s bathrooms. FULL DISCLOSURE: I have 4 bathrooms in my house but I’m making everyone use the master bath until the house sells so that I only have one to clean. Donnie HATES this but he also has no desire to clean the other bathroom regularly so he’s sucking it up.

Here’s to pretending like we only have one bathroom indefinitely! Woot!

Programming Note: If you leave a comment I may reply to it as a test, if you get an email notification of that reply – can you reply to that email for me? This new set up seems to be missing that function at first glance so if it is, I want to add it back, because that’s how I reply to comments 99% of the time, is on the blog itself – but that does no good if you don’t get the email notice that someone has replied!

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The Countdown Begins

How long have I been talking about selling our house now? For 2 years? Well, it took us awhile to call a realtor because we had a list of things we needed to do first. Then it took us awhile to do some of the main things the realtor told us we needed to do. Then it took us awhile to call the contractor she recommended to do some of the stuff we couldn’t do ourselves. Then it took us awhile to – oh wait, this time it wasn’t us – it took the contractor awhile to do what he was hired to do. (About half of the delay could be blamed on weather. BUT ONLY HALF.) And finally, this week, the realtor came BACK over to talk to me about what else needs to be done in preparation for photos. Photos will be a week from today, sign in the yard the following Monday.

IT IS FINALLY HAPPENING.

Most of our rooms only needed a few things taken care of before pictures, and most of those things needed to be done to have it “Show Ready” anyway. BUT! There are 4 major projects. I’ve done two of them.

The first one was that E’s room needed to be made to look like the guest suite that it is. It didn’t have much left in it, and it was layed out the wrong way, so we had to move what was there around and then “stage” it to make it look like a bedroom.

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THAT IS NOT A REALL BED, Y’ALL!

That is an air mattress thrown up on a frame. DO NOT LAY DOWN ON IT. I can’t believe how good it looks. We bought this house mainly for that extra “Master Suite” which was PERFECT to give E the privacy and space he needed living with two small children.

The other challenge was my office. My office is a nice room off the deck but it’s not supposed to be an office. This is fine once people get here and see it, people understand that, but it doesn’t photograph well because that wasn’t the intention of the room. SO! She gave me some suggestions about how to make it look more like a sitting room in pictures so they can still photograph the room with the great windows off the deck.

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BOOM! Out of frame is my desk with my cats on it and even further out of frame is the kid’s desk because they insisted on having a work space in here.

I still have to get the porch ready (it’s filthy from a winter of no use) and I have to rearrange the furniture in Nikki’s room to make it better for pictures, but still! Two big projects done in one week! It actually didn’t take too long, once I set out to do it.

She also asked me to make sure all of my plates were hung on my cabinets. Some had fallen and she said it made the outdate cabinets look more modern with that touch. This made me feel REALLY GOOD. I know my interior decorating style (although it took me about a decade of adult life to find it) and that is one of my favorite decorating choices in this house – so it was nice to know it wasn’t something so off-mark that it needed to be removed.

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Someone asked how they were hung up on instagram – they’re just hung up with those sticky velcro tabs. They’re all those melanine plastic plates from Target. They get new colors/styles every season and I’ve just been building up my collection. So, super easy but also not at all destructive to the cabinets. And evidently? They modernize out-dated cabinets. Look at me being all modern!

Another change in our household this week? And this part is nothing short of miraculous. I did one load of laundry, washed and dryed, and then put it all up, IN THE SAME DAY. That never happens. Our clean clothes stay in baskets in the laundry room for weeks before I put them up. I basically wait until the baskets are full. BUT NO. NOT THIS WEEK. I put them up as soon as they were done.

This house is about 4400 square feet and after we decided we were having no more kids, and one of our kids moved out, it became about double what we needed. I am so sick of tending to this house, it’s not even funny. While this process has stressed me out and caused me to gain 20lbs now (Yes! We’re now up to 20lbs! Let’s not talk about it!) I am also so ready to just get out of this damn house because – hopefully – my stress levels will reduce substantially then.

Let’s not discuss the stress of just having the house show-ready at all times, or the stress of getting my dog out of the house every time it needs to be shown, I’m pulling a Scarlet O’Hara about that right now. I’ll worry about that part after the sign is in the yard.

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The One Thing I Never Talk About.

MONEY.

There’s a reason, it’s because I suck at money.

Not in your typical way, I don’t have expensive habits or tastes that cause me problems. I get my hair cut a few times a year at the walk-in place next to Target, I only ever wear mascara and I only do that about once a month. I carry purses that cost $30 – but when I have splurged for a fun Fossil bag – I carried it for 3 years. I don’t have “money problems” in the typical way.

My way is actually so atypical, it’s hard to explain. The first round of issues occurred when I got divorced a million years ago. Single Mom in College with Credit Cards is what I like to call that phase of my life. I used a Scarlet O’Hara technique in money and just kept telling myself, “I’ll worry about it AFTER I graduate and get a real job.” That was when you first started being able to use credit cards for groceries and while that helped feed us, it caused me TONS of issues later because the debt I was in after graduation was excruciating.

So that was a huge issue, but then I spent 10+ years not doing a great job managing our family finances. I had this very simple budget and carried around receipts for weeks and when I finally entered everything in nothing ever balanced and we spent every month struggling.

Donnie finally took over a couple of years ago and things have only improved since. BUT! That’s not what this entry is about! This entry is ACTUALLY about budgeting tools. When Donnie took over we started with a Google Spreadsheet budget. He entered in items that were connected to the budget and the numbers would edit accordingly. He felt like this was a little archaic though, and would have liked to not to have to enter in all of the transactions, so we tried Mint for awhile. Mint synced with cards/accounts automatically, but you still had to go through and put their categories in the budget. And a lot of the “auto syncing” didn’t really make things easier. It actually made things more confusing. Especially because we were using one credit card for bonus so Donnie needed to make sure the cash from the bank was set aside to pay the bill every month, and it was tricky since that meant we were accounting for the same purchases twice. Mint did NOT like that.

So we went back to the spreadsheets for awhile. The spreadsheets were just so easily edited to suit our needs. Yes, it felt archaic, but it was also something we could easily manipulate because it wasn’t something so robust like Mint. The MAIN problem with our spreadsheets was that it was SO EASY to make a mistake. So, Donnie was still on the quest for something with a little more protection from stupid errors.

6a01347f997a3b970c0133f4fc1e9a970b-800wiTHAT is when he discovered You Need A Budget. It is, for all practical purposes, a really robust spreadsheet. It has suited our needs PERFECTLY. It has an app on our phone so, as soon as I get gas, I can enter it into the “transactions”. Gas is tricky because it doesn’t show up on our bill for the “real” amount until it clears, so Donnie would basically have to worry about that item for a few days longer than most. Same with anything that required a tip. He still rectifies with the bank account and the credit card every day.

ProTip: Everyone should log into their bank/credit cards every day, because that’s how you catch Credit Card Theft. We’ve had cards/numbers stolen twice but we’ve caught it because we log into our accounts every day to at least LOOK at them.

It does take a bit to set up, get your budget in place, set it up for different accounts so you’re tracking when/if you spend on credit cards or from your bank. But here’s something I learned, it should take time to deal with your money. It’s important and managing it shouldn’t be easy or an afterthought. I still suck at it, luckily, most of it’s out of my hands.

But once it’s set up, it’s just tracking your spending and making sure your purchases are put in the correct category. He checks every day and things that come through like grocery purchases from Publix, he just adds those transactions because he knows what budget category they are. But anything weird that I purchase, I add and categorize either from my phone or from my desktop. And I can add notes on each purchase to show what it was because somethings are not obviously one category and I need his feedback on where it should go. I can also split up a receipt and show that $40 of that Publix purchase was cash for a babysitter which falls under “entertainment” in our budget.

The splitting of receipts is KEY. So many purchases at, like Target, are for more than one thing. Birthday gift PLUS groceries. Or clothing PLUS groceries. Being able to split a purchase into two budget categories was something we couldn’t do easily with Mint or with basic spreadsheets. But YNAB makes it SO EASY.

We’re still a work in progress. It took a bout a year of monitored spending to really settle in on what our budget should actually be. When I was in charge we ate out several times a week. Now? It’s only once a week. BUT! We budget money for coaching because, in the big picture of our lives, that’s more valuable than a few meals out. We also budget race fees and kid’s sporting costs. These are all things we spent money on before, but I just kinda lumped into one under-funded category. It’s hard to sit down and make a perfect budget if you don’t monitor your spending. We’re about two years in of Donnie being in charge, and it took us one of those years to really work out the details of our budget.

Anyway – I’ve never talked about money before because I suck at it. I could still tell you horror stories involving me and finances, but I won’t. Because I’m actually really embarrassed about it. Instead, I’ll tell you some of our saving graces. 1) My husband, you can’t have him. 2) YNAB. It costs money if you want the connectivity between several devices, but it’s the best money we’ve ever spent.