Sunday, August 22, 2010

An Open Letter to Oprah

Dear Oprah and Oprah show family,
     I know you have done many make-over and organizational shows over the years, but I wanted to offer a unique idea.
I am a married mother of nine children. Two are in college, and seven 13 years and under. We live in a small but nice 3 bedroom house in a small town. We have converted the attic and one room in the basement into bedrooms. We have two girls in the attic, two girls in the basement, two boys in one room, and three boys in the other. The attic and basement rooms have no closets at all. The other two rooms have very tiny closets. I can’t decide how many clothes each person actually needs, how to store them, how to keep the clothes where I can find them when I need them. How many clothes should I keep for hand-me-downs? I use them, but I think I keep too many. I can’t seem to part with the things I think I will have to replace if I get rid of them. Also toys – what is the best way to store toys? How do I help my older boys store their things so that the baby boys can’t get to them? How do we make the attic room, which is fairly small, work for teen and preteen girls? In the basement our college girls’ room looks like a clothing store exploded. How do I get this room organized to where they can find what they need for school, and for at home? How do I even get enough storage in that room when there is not closet?
My husband and I share a room, and I promise, you don’t have to go in there. It’s above and beyond anyone’s call of duty. It is the catch-all for the house. I would not put anyone through it.

     Obviously, space, organization, and sanity have become scarce. It cannot survive in this environment!

     As our family has grown, so has our budget, and luckily, our income, to a certain extent. However, due to some overwhelming medical bills (one with had a heart condition {Wolfe-Parkinson-white syndrome} and one has a seizure disorder as well as various surgeries, etc) and some very bad budgeting skills on my part, our finances are a mess. We have many medical bills and have a hard time making our money stretch as far as it needs to go. How do I make the money we have go as far as it can? How do I make judgement calls on what should be paid first, and what can wait?

     We also home school. This has gotten better, as we recently joined an online academy, but our school room is our dining room and it does not suit our needs well at all, especially since we still need to be able to use the dining room for meals. Where do I put all the school supplies, science materials, art supplies, math manipulatives, paper and endless amounts of  textbooks. Right now it is all stacked on one very messy humungous bookshelf circa 1977. This room also houses my “home office” which consists of a plastic table with two pc towers, one monitor, printer, and all that, plus a stack of bills and papers that I need to attend to, or should have six months ago, but did not because it was lost in the huge stack.

    Our living room is pretty large, thankfully. However we cannot fit our whole family in there  to sit and watch a movie or play a game. How do I arrange my couch, loveseat and tables to make room for all the children? We love spending time together, but it breaks my heart that we cannot even seat everyone in the same room to watch a movie.

     Meal planning for 11 is daunting, and I have really never even tried. My husband and I pretty much go with whatever is in the house. We buy the same ingredients all the time, and therefore, eat the same meals. It get boring, and I am sure I could be saving money, but I feel like I don’t have time to figure out a better way.

     Time management has always been an issue for me. I am a “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of girl, and I have always been okay with that – until your house is such a mess that you can’t figure out where you put your underwear, you are still wearing maternity clothes because it’s easier than digging out your regular clothes and your children don’t put anything away because they can’t figure out where it should go…then it’s time to make a change.

     Sadly, my husband is really no better – actually he’s worse. He’s a pack rat , so our garage is filled with everything he’s ever owned, just in case we need it someday. He’s not a hoarder, quite, but the garage has pieces parts of everything from bikes to plumbing, stray wood and every screw, nut and bolt just in case something implodes at 4am and he has to fix it before a store would open. He’s a protector, and this is one of his ways of being prepared for any eventuality. Unfortunately, that also means he is very messy and if something would implode in the middle of the night he would never be able to find what he needs to fix it.
I was hoping that perhaps it might make very interesting television to help make over one very harried mom, a hard working dad who never has enough hours in the day, our house, budget, meal plan, laundry system.  If I could figure out how to do it, I would implement a family closet, but I just can’t seem to find the space in our crowded basement. I would also love to find the space down there for a playroom for our very active little boys.

     We would be willing to accept whatever advice and organizational tips your team might have, and filming our noisy family and messy house will surely have you, your staff and your audience amazed at the mess, but laughing at our happy, crazy, disorganized but loving family. Thank you so much for your time and consideration, Megan and Doug Jeffery and the nine beautiful tornadoes.
P.S. - If the Container Store execs happen to read my blog, please could you open a store somewhere in our vicinity? Please? That would really help me out. Thank you.
One more thing - maybe an IKEA? Oh, that's asking too much? I guess Pittsburgh really isn't too far to drive.
P.P.S. - Oprah, if you feel Nate Berkus is the best man for this job, I am totally okay with that!