Junk-Drawer Superpowers

Every mom has a superpower, without which things would fall apart in the household.

My superpower: knowing where all the random stuff is hiding.

Related to this is my ability to know what things will fit in what spaces, which is handy when packing the car for a dorm move-in (or -out), vacation, or school event involving a lot of stuff.

It all comes down to a very visual orientation. I definitely get that from my dad. If you ask my dad for directions, he will immediately grab a pen and paper and say, “Let me draw you a map.” After he sketches it out, he can give you the step-by-step. (Dad’s really good at packing too.)

My superpower comes in handy when I’m in the grocery store and have forgotten my list — I can usually visualize what’s on it. This only works if I’ve written the list on paper, proving that eye-hand coordination is necessary for more than just knowing how to juggle. My ability is also helpful when I send a kid to the pantry (in our basement) to retrieve an ingredient. “The mustard is on the shelf just below the sugar and flour. It might be hiding behind the ketchup or salad dressing.”

And it even works when I’m out of the house.¬†People text me all the time when I’m not home, asking where something is.

Yesterday I had gone to the mall and was derailed from my shopping mission by a rack of jeans that were on sale. (50% off! I wasn’t leaving that store without jeans.) I made 3 trips into the dressing room because I didn’t plan ahead while trying on … and the whole time, I was getting texts from my husband. He was installing the weather station we’d gotten him for Father’s Day.

“Eyeglass repair kit? Do you know where it is? The wx station has a tiny phillips head.”

(You can tell he’s a real meteorologist because he uses “wx” to abbreviate the word “weather.”)

“Check top center drawer of my desk. If not there then NO I have no idea. I also have a very small Phillips I think in the pencil holder on top of my desk. The gray mesh one.”

“Found em both. Trying. … Neither works ūüė¶ ”

“Because … ”

“The eyeglass repair kit is a flathead and the screwdriver is too big.”

He sent a picture. He’d found a full-size screwdriver and stopped there.

“In that same desk drawer about halfway back there should be some old stylus from your PDA. The kind with mini screwdriver inside the top.”

“I found an old ipod … ”

(Seriously?!)

“OR!!!! Go in my church tote and get the striped zipper bag out. Inside should be a set of tools.”

And there was. I keep those in there, even though the guitar that required the use of an actual screwdriver when a string broke hasn’t been in my possession since 1994.

When I got home, I zeroed in on that junk drawer and found that old stylus, right where I’d said it would be. The screwdriver inside was the right size, too — though he’d already accomplished the task using the one he found in my church tote.

If I clean out that drawer, I’ll be in trouble, though I did toss the expired pack of Rolaids (I think the asthma inhaler is out-of-date as well, and we won’t even talk about the age of that peanut chew.)

I’m just hoping that Hubs forgets he saw where I hide the Robo-Grip.

"Junk drawer superpowers" by Barb Szyszkiewicz @franciscanmom
Actual photo of my junk drawer. Copyright 2018 Barb Szyszkiewicz. All rights reserved (though why I care if someone steals this photo of my messy drawer, I couldn’t tell you.)

What’s your superpower?


Copyright 2018 Barb Szyszkiewicz
This article contains Amazon affiliate links.

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#WorthRevisit: Redirection

For Worth Revisit Wednesday today, I’ve dipped into the 2007 archives for a little attitude adjustment.

Little Brother and his friend Adventure Boy are busily playing with Legos and having a snack of popcorn.

Of course, two five-year-olds generally spill at least as much popcorn as they eat. Between the popcorn and the Legos, I could barely tell what color carpet they were sitting on.

Neither of them was too keen on the idea of picking up that spilled popcorn, until I suggested that they put it into a bowl and then take it outside and dump it out under the bird feeder so the squirrels could have a snack too.

Suddenly the two boys were quiet as could be, picking up every tiny speck of popcorn off the floor so they could feed the squirrels. They proudly went outside to dump the bowl.

popcorn-316774_960_720 pixabay
Photo via Pixabay (2014), CC0 Public Domain.

What an instant change in attitude! Cleaning up for the sake of cleaning up is not fun at all, and I often resist doing it just as the two boys did. But if cleaning up means that someone else benefits, it becomes less of a chore. Sometimes it even becomes a pleasure.

I‚Äôve noticed this myself as I do a morning sweep through the house. ‚ÄúI love you,‚ÄĚ I think to myself as I pick up someone‚Äôs dirty socks that are hiding under a chair. Remembering that I sweep the floors, wash the socks, and scrub the sink because I love my family can help me get past the ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt want to‚ÄĚ attitude that can easily overtake me.

An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.‚ÄĚ
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates. (Proverbs 31: 10-31)

This is a tall order, for sure. (And I‚Äôm certainly guilty of ‚Äúeating the bread of idleness‚ÄĚ more than I should!) But I think that part of the secret of this ‚Äúexcellent wife‚ÄĚ is that she is doing her work out of love for her husband and family. The hard work of running a household goes a little easier when you focus on blessing the people you love.

worth revisit

I’m linking up with Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for #WorthRevisit Wednesday, a¬†place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link up with fellow bloggers!

 

Small Success: Small is Beautiful

Small Success dark blue outline 800x800Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

  • Thrifting: TheKid is in (another) show, playing (another) prince. In the past 6 shows he’s been in, he’s been a prince twice and a butler twice. Fortunately, we already had a crown on hand from the last time he played a prince. So he only needed a pair of black dress shoes (which we also already had) and black dress pants. I stopped at Goodwill the other day and found just what he needed–and they were half price. $1.99 for the whole costume–that’s the best I’ve ever done.
  • (Death by) Meeting. I was asked to be the parish respect-life representative and to start a group. No, we didn’t already have one in the parish. I went out on a limb and had a meeting and didn’t die of embarrassment or anxiety.
  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
    My Cookbook Shelf. It holds a lot of books, but many new cookbooks are too tall to fit. Time to rethink this!

    Around the House. I bagged up 2 big bags of clothes that no longer fit TheKid (and I suspect there will be more). I cleaned out 1 big bag of things from my own closet (if they don’t fit, flatter, or feel good, they are OUT). And I decluttered the kitchen table and covered it with my favorite vintage tablecloth. I abandon less stuff on the table when it’s covered. I’m thinking about hauling a bookcase into the kitchen for my cookbooks, because a bunch of them are too tall for the one I have in there already. I’ll have to do some measuring first, though. The kitchen is 10×10, so there’s not much wiggle room.

Share your Small Successes at CatholicMom.com by joining the linkup in the bottom of today’s post. No blog? List yours in the comments box!

Review and Giveaway: Catholic Through the Year Planner

CTTYblogtourgraphic

What’s the best part about the start of a new school year? New crayons, new pencils, fresh pink erasers, and (for moms) a brand-new calendar all ready to be filled with school schedules, sports schedules, play rehearsals, parties and dinner menus.

I use¬†Google calendar (and various apps that support it) on my computer, phone and tablet, but a lot of my best thinking, planning and dreaming is done with pencil in hand, so for me, a paper planner is a must. I’m picky about my planner too–I like to have a Catholic planner with daily readings and the saint of the day listed. That way I don’t have to go somewhere else to get that information.

Planner.weekly.rightThe Catholic Through the Year¬†Planner from Catholic Sistas covers all the bases. In the sample page at left (half of a 2-page weekly spread) you’ll see that the top box for each day is dedicated to the Catholic part of the planner: daily readings, saints/feasts of the day, and even the daily mysteries of the Rosary. Fridays have a little fish icon to remind you to plan a meatless meal (here’s my opportunity for a shameless plug for my pet project,¬†the¬†Meatless Friday feature¬†at CatholicMom.com!) Three boxes per day below that allow you to customize your planning to your own family’s needs. Then there’s a handy checklist along the side and an area for other notes at the bottom–with a quote from a saint each week.

Customization is the name of the game with this planner. You can choose a calendar, homeschool planner, blog planner and household planner–or any combination of these. Want it all? Grab the Whole Enchilada. Everything is on sale through the end of today (7/31), and the prices can’t be beat!

My favorite items from the household planner are definitely the monthly menu calendar and the reusable to-do list and daily, weekly and monthly cleaning lists, which can be placed in sheet protectors or laminated.

If you don’t have your new calendar for this school year yet,¬†there’s good news–your new planner is as close as your printer. Print it out and get it bound at an office-supply store, or punch holes in the pages and slip them into a binder. (For some of the household pages, I use a clipboard.)

And now for the GIVEAWAY!

Catholic Sistas is generously offering a planner for one Franciscanmom reader. For your chance to win, name your favorite feature from this planner–check the list below for ALL that’s inside. The winner will be chosen at random from all comments made before August 7, 2015 at noon Eastern and will be notified by email.

Remember, you’ve got to be in it to win it! Leave a comment to enter!

 

I’m sharing the full table of contents below from the Catholic Sistas page, so you can get an idea of what’s inside.

Here’s what’s in it:

CALENDAR details

  • 154 8.5‚Ä≥x11‚Ä≥downloadable pages to print using your own home printer¬†or take to a printer to have it professionally printed ‚Äď your choice!¬†{you can also adjust your printer to print it in booklet size, making it perfect for tossing in your purse}
  • print in¬†COLOR¬†or B&W ‚ÄĒ your choice
  • beautiful cover sheet
  • 2015/2016 academic and 2015 traditional calendar available
  • this liturgical planner was created using the¬†standard guidelines of the Church calendar, both the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1969 used in the Ordinary Form of the Latin Rite {the Novus Ordo} and the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope St. Pius V and reissued by Pope St. John XXIII in 1962 used in the Extraordinary Form¬†{the Traditional¬†Latin Mass ‚Äď TLM}
  • year at a glance
  • 12 month at-a-glance pages {two-page spread per month¬†for maximum use}
  • weekly planners for each month, giving you plenty of customizable space to meet your family‚Äôs needs
  • includes a personal information page,
  • contact sheet for friends, family, & acquaintances,
  • multiple pages for note taking {or doodling, if that‚Äôs what you like to do!},
  • and a meaty section on¬†prayer, including verses from Sacred Scripture, quotes from saints, & references pulled from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as well as a truncated list of common prayers.

HOMESCHOOL details

o   beautiful cover sheet
o   48 pages total
o   36 pages of blank lesson plans waiting for you to get ready for the school year! Verses from Sacred Scripture, quotes from saints, and snippets from the Catechism of the Catholic Church laced throughout.
o   grade sheet printable to print as many times as needed
o   an evaluation sheet to monitor your kiddo/s’ work habits, as well as yourself!
o   and a report card printable for you to print on card stock, making your homeschool reporting look professional!

menu plan
Here’s how that monthly menu page looks after I get my hands on it! As you can see, I’ve used this planner before–this is a 2014 menu, but the format is still the same. This is a page that lives on my clipboard for quick reference.

HOUSEHOLD MANAGEMENT details

  • beautiful cover sheet
  • 40 pages
  • a re-usable to-do list to keep track of what needs to get done throughout the day {lamination recommended}
  • 12 month of meals calendars, August 2015-July 2016
  • weekly meal planner printable to print as many times as you will use it through the year
  • daily cleaning list {lamination recommended}
  • weekly & monthly cleaning lists¬†{lamination recommended}
  • fall & spring cleaning lists¬†{lamination recommended}
  • 23 day organizing challenge which outlines different tasks to tackle
  • household tips sheet with some cool tidbits of information to make your life easier
  • around the house master project list
  • budget list for finances for all months of the year
  • birthday & anniversary list, by month
  • AND a gift list, with a breakdown to designate Christmas, birthday, or anniversary

CATHOLIC BLOGGER details

  • beautiful cover sheet
  • 53 pages
  • additional cover sheets for each blogging month
  • goals sheet for each month
  • daily maintenance sheet to keep track of your posts and what you‚Äôve done with social media, did you pray?, etc.
  • brainstorm sheet with room to spread out and jot down ideas, tags, categories, SEO, where to promote, time and supplies needed, and any offshoot post ideas
  • guest post sheet to keep track of details for those who wish to write on your blog
  • sponsor sheet to keep track of ads, $$ coming in, and start/end date for the ads
  • AND a month of posts sheet to jot down all the post titles for the month, as well as recording numbers for all your social media

Copyright 2015 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS.
Planner image and header photo copyright 2015 Martina Kreitzer. All rights reserved.
Menu planner photo copyright 2015 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS. All rights reserved.

Small Success Thursday: Home Improvement

Small Success dark blue outline 800x800Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

I’ve been doing a little here-and-there organizing this week, and I’m pretty pleased with that. So I called this week “home improvement,” even though no hammers, screwdrivers or power tools were involved.

1. In my continuing battle against the wet-swimsuits-left-in-random-places issue that comes along every single summer, I took the laundry drying rack out of the basement and put it up on our enclosed back porch. I don’t think that a laundry drying rack looks very nice on the porch, but it sure beats crumpled, damp swimsuits, t-shirts and towels on every porch chair. That’s mildew waiting to happen, people!

2. I also tackled the laundry area of the basement, which has a large shelf unit that’s handy for holding detergent, “Pray ‘N’ Wash,” the old towels we keep around in case the utility sink overflows or for when we defrost the freezer, and cleaning supplies. The shelves are fairly deep, so things get pushed to the back and never seen again. One hour and one Hefty bag, later, I’d cleaned, sorted, and put things back neatly. I even used some old kids’ placemats to line the shelves in case of detergent spills. It’s much better, and the stuff I need most frequently is easy to reach. (Since I’m the only one who does the laundry here, this job was all for me, but I was happy to get it done.)

basement before and after

3. I started using the free Wunderlist app, which syncs across all my devices, to keep track of those little home-organization chores I want to get done. wunderlist logo(I use it already for other purposes, but having the list there means I don’t lose the piece of paper where I wrote down the tasks I want to complete for the basement or porch or family room.) And I just found out that this app allows for repeating tasks, making it even MORE useful.

Share your Small Successes at CatholicMom.com by joining the linkup in the bottom of today’s post. No blog? List yours in the comments box!

Small Success Thursday: Wake-Up Call

Small Success dark blue outline 800x800Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

First, stand up and cheer with me: The Kid made the bus today!

It’s been a crazy week or so in School Bus World. His regular bus driver, the kind man who will stop back here to drop off a forgotten lunchbox after finishing the run and who patiently rolls the bus to a stop right in front of our house to give The Kid an extra opportunity to make the bus each morning, is ill. The substitutes don’t know the route, much less that Mr. Tony doesn’t make The Kid wait on the corner (we’re the only ones at the stop). So there were days when The Kid was ready for the bus, waiting in our front yard dribbling his soccer ball, and the substitute driver zoomed right by. We won’t talk about how fast they were driving on a residential street, either.

But today he made the bus, because I have devised the Best Way to Wake Up a 7th-Grade Boy Ever.

15 minutes after his alarm clock goes off, I go in there and warn him that if he’s not up by the time I have gathered up the drink, yogurt and snack for his lunchbox, I’m coming back, and I won’t be alone.

When I come back, I bring Meghan.

I like Meghan’s sound. The Kid does not. He’s out of bed before the end of the first verse.

And yesterday I took a long look at my kitchen and did not like what I saw. So I piled all the stuff that was in a place where it didn’t belong on the kitchen table. My mission was to get it all put away before dinnertime. And I got it done. I even moved the bread machine and put the recipe box in that spot, because it makes more sense that way.

kitchen table before and after

I’d get out the tablecloth now, but my daughter has a pineapple she wants to cut up, and I’d rather wait to put down the tablecloth until that job is done.

That diabetic-supply basket looks none too terrific, but that’s a project for another day. Right now, we’re just happy that all the stuff The Kid needs is in one accessible spot.

Share your Small Successes at CatholicMom.com by joining the linkup in the bottom of today’s post. No blog? List yours in the comments box!

Small Success Thursday: Spiffing Up

Small Success dark blue outline 800x800Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

I’ve been working on¬†cleaning out the dumping ground known as The Kid’s Old Room. It’s a tiny space (about 8X10) and I’d love to be able to use it for something other than a place to stuff things that don’t have a home anywhere else.

I began by sorting the books. The Kid had almost our full collection of children’s books in there, so I had to decide what we wanted to keep (because there’s sentimental value) and what we could give away. I wound up boxing up 3 good-size boxes of middle-grade books, which I’ll deliver to the fourth-grade teacher at his school. She used to teach middle school, so she has said that her classroom library could use some beefing up. There’s also a¬†box of books appropriate for younger children, and I’ll ask if one of the first-grade teachers can use those.

On Monday I took a coupon I’d gotten at JC Penney (one of those “cash to spend for later” deals) to use before it expired. I’d wanted to get some capris for myself but didn’t find anything I liked. I did find a nice summer-weight bedspread, which I thought would be a nice change since we only have a very heavy comforter for the bed. The new bedspread was marked down to $40–originally $100. I had a coupon for $30, so it only cost me $10 to get a whole new look for the room.

Then I took my search for capris to a Goodwill store I hadn’t visited before, but which was on my way home from the mall. I¬†tried on a lot of things and came home with 3 pairs of capris and 2 pairs of jeans. I spent only $22; 2 were Levi’s, 1 was Lee and the other 2 items were Chico’s, so I’m satisfied that I got some good-quality stuff. And one of the pairs of jeans looks like someone took off the tags but never even wore the pants.

When I came home I took the same amount of items right out of my closet to put in the donation bag. The least-flattering things were the ones to go!

So this week I have spiffed up my house in 2 ways and my wardrobe in one. Not bad for a $30 investment!

Share your Small Successes at CatholicMom.com by joining the linkup in the bottom of today’s post. No blog? List yours in the comments box!

© 2015 Barb Szyszkiewicz

Small Success: Neat and Tidy

Small-Success-Thursday-400pxThursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

I’ve been doing a little tidying-up around the place, since it’s too cold to GO anywhere.

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My refrigerator door has gone from MESS to MESSAGE CENTER. I have a whole basket of the things I removed: ¬†soccer-team-logo magnets that The Kid wants, a big SpiderMan magnet that I should really send to Mancub, a prayer card that my grandmother kept on HER refrigerator (yes, I inherited the Stuff My Grandmother Kept On Her Refrigerator Door and most of it moved straight to mine)…but they’re not going back on the fridge. Which means I must permanently get rid of some of it before TheKid gets home from school.

fridge door AFTER

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On Tuesday, TheKid and TheDad had Snow Days. I cleaned out the linen closet. Bye-bye, bag of cough drops from 2012 lurking in the back corner!

linen closet AFTER

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I’m all out of neat accomplishments. My limit seems to be 2 per week. But that’s better than 0 per week.

I also survived a half-day of middle-school substitute teaching on 30 minutes’ notice plus a seventh-grade sleepover capped off with a waffle-eating contest. The winner had 6. Perhaps Kelloggs would like to sponsor TheKid’s next sleepover…

Share your Small Successes at CatholicMom.com by joining the linkup in the bottom of today’s post. No blog? List yours in the comments box!

They Held Down the Fort

I’ve got to hand it to my kids. Because TheDad is absolutely swamped at work (and has been for about a month now, with a bunch of unrelenting project deadlines) they were largely left on their own this week while I was at the writing conference.

There were a few “distress calls” in the form of text messages from the Big Kids, but the issues were minor ones.

I’m going to reproduce some text messages/exchanges exactly as they happened–grammar and spelling issues notwithstanding.

Big Brother: ¬†“How do i use dishwasher” That was the simplest one to handle.

Middle Sister: IMG_0728

I’m pretty proud of myself for not losing my mind over that. To be fair, I will admit here and now that one time I poured the bleach in that “middle thing” that is supposed to be for fabric softener.

Which reminds me. I need to go run the washing machine with vinegar in that “middle thing” right now to rinse out the rest of the soap.

Big Brother cooked dinner for two nights. That’s not really newsworthy in itself, since he cooks at college all the time. But he outdid himself this time–he served edamame one night as a side, and apparently Little Brother “destroyed” it.

calphalon panOn Thursday we had quite the detailed textversation about whether (and at what temperature) he could put my Very Favorite Skillet into the oven. I told him exactly what kind of pan it was–it’s my one piece of *really good* cookware and I’m obsessively kind of protective of it–and sent him off on a Google search to find out. (Apparently, it’s good up to 500¬į.)

Later, I got a text during dinner to let me know that dinner had been a success:IMG_0729

That was quite entertaining for everyone in my table.

Middle Sister announced, upon my arrival, that she will make a good housewife.

There were no dirty dishes in the sink and the clean ones were put away.

I do need to teach my kids how to properly load a dishwasher, as I’m obsessive particular about that (and I have mad Tetris skillz that translate well to dishwasher-loading).

And all 3 of our cordless phones had gone AWOL. I’ve been home for over 4 hours but I’ve only found two so far.

But all in all, they did a great job. They ate well, kept the place just about as neat as it is when they’ve got adult nagging supervision, got Little Brother to and from our town’s recreation day camp and one soccer practice, and dealt with him when he wasn’t at camp or soccer. And Middle Sister’s doing a show at the same time.

I’m gratified to know that I’m not obsolete yet (as evidenced by the small difficulties they encountered) but that they’ve proven themselves to be quite independent when they need to be.