Success in October!

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October was a busy month … lesson planning, science labs, end-of-unit tests, staff development, PTA meetings, a curriculum night, and the list goes on! Fall is a busy time of year for an elementary school educator, and October sometimes seems the busiest!

My roles and responsibilities as an Instructional Science Coach frequently occupy my mind during the day and often in the evening. The time consuming nature of the career I have chosen is one of the reasons I set up the School Year Challenge for myself.

Overall, I would classify October as a success! The iccomplishments* achieved in September were an inspiration when I selected the projects for October.

I was further motivated when I woke up every morning to the note cards hanging on my Project Wall. (My version of The Chalkboard Method.) They served as a visual reminder of the projects I wanted to complete during the month of October.

As I finished each project, I put a big red ‘X’ on the note card. What draws your eye when you look at the results on my Project Wall? Is it what I iccomplished* or what I didn’t get done?

What I see are those red ‘X’s. They represent 3 projects I have thought about doing for a long time. I finally turned all of that thinking into doing! SUCCESS!

October’s deck projects were different from September’s master bedroom projects because the completed deck projects don’t result in a transformed deck.

Instead, the projects iccomplished* in October have made the deck an enjoyable space where family and friends can hang out in the crisp fall evenings and the upcoming winter months.

The Projects:

First… The Metal Table and Chairs

The main goal for the table and chairs was to paint them. They are over 10 years old and the original green was faded.

October 1 – Before: metal table and chairs original green color
October 31 – After: metal table and chairs dark gray gloss

The appearance of the newly painted table and chairs does not come through fully in the photographs. If you were standing next to them in real life, they look fresh, uniform in color, and shiny. Even Caramel likes them!

The chairs side by side may provide a better comparison of before and after.

In the house my grandparents built, they had a covered side porch. I loved that porch and was especially drawn to the dark gray glossy paint my grandpa used to paint the floor boards. It always looked like he had just painted them.

Douglas and I had talked about painting the deck that glossy gray but eventually decided against it. Instead, we decided to paint some of the furniture the dark gray that reminds me of my grandparents. The glossy finish provides that special sparkle of newness.

I decided to use spray paint and ended up using Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch 2X Ultra Cover Paint + Primer. Spray painting was something that intimidated me because my thinking kept producing worst case scenario images (more paint dispersing in the air than going on the furniture, a clogged spray head, getting too much paint on and drips drying, not getting good coverage, my finger cramping, and so on).

After I did some research and learned about spray painting, my run-away thoughts became more manageable. I stopped overthinking everything and was only slightly nervous when I actually got ready to paint.

After the first pull on the trigger (Douglas found a special handle in the garage that attached to the top of the can so I didn’t have to worry about a cramping finger) and the first few sweeps of paint across the first chair, I was feeling exhilarated…spray painting was fun! The visual impact of the freshly painted chair was inspirational! Why had I waited so long to do this?!

Next … Deck Post Lights

Our yard has a slope to it so one end of the deck is about 3 feet off the ground. Because of this we put railings just on that end.

Oct. 1 – Left side of the deck
Oct. 1 – Left and front of the deck

Douglas and James built the railings but they still need to be stained along with the rest of the deck.

Our goal for October was to make the deck a space where we could be outside during the evening so lighting was a priority. Staining the deck will be a project for another time.

Cost is a priority for all the projects I do because Douglas and I have specific financial goals we are on track to meet. We didn’t want to hire an electrician to help with the lighting because the cost would have been too great. Instead, we looked for ways to effectively illuminate the deck at night while staying within our budget.

The solution for the deck posts was solar lights that sit on the the top of each post. We decided to go with GreenLighting 4″ x 4″ Solar Powered LED Post Cap Lights that we purchased through Amazon. The reviews were good, the cost was reasonable, and the lights were simple in design.

Oct. 31 – Close up of solar post light
Oct 31 – Solar post lights during the day
Oct. 31 – Solar post lights and tubed lights at night

Final Project … Tubed Lights

The other solution for lighting was tubed or rope lights we bought almost a year ago. Our original thought when we bought the lights was to stain the deck before hanging them because we didn’t want to attach the brackets only to have to remove them when we were ready to stain.

As stated above, we haven’t stained the deck and we don’t know exactly when that will happen. Because we want the nighttime illumination now, we were willing to attach all the brackets knowing in the future they would have to be removed when we stained the deck.

We purchased 6 containers of Holiday Time Clear Crystallized Rope Light. This is a product distributed by Wal-mart. Each container had 19 feet of tubed lighting with brackets and screws.

Laying out the rope lights

As we laid out the lights, Douglas and I soon realized we had not purchased enough to go everywhere we wanted the lights to be.

Even though it had been almost a year since we purchased the original 6 containers, a quick run to Wal-mart was successful. I had never been so happy that Christmas decorations were available before Halloween!

As soon as we got back home, Douglas and I worked in tandem – he drilled a quick pilot hole and I followed behind screwing in the brackets. The tubled lights were up in no time!

Attaching brackets

Being able to enjoy the lighting now is definitely worth the work it will take to remove the brackets when we are ready to stain the deck!

Oct. 31-Rope lights illuminate our deck
Oct. 31 – Rope lights on steps

Bonus Projects … a Little Progress

There were two items on the front porch that I had included as bonuses for October. One was a plant cart and the other was a table my grandpa had made. I didn’t get either one painted like I had hoped, but I did clean the dirt, dust, grime, and clutter off of them. They look 100% better!

Oct. 1 – Grandpa’s table
Oct. 31 – Grandpa’s table
Oct. 1 – Plant cart
Oct. 31 – Plant cart

Budget – A Success Too!

The budget for October’s deck projects was $300.00. We came in under budget spending only $205.12 but that was due to the fact that I didn’t buy any supplies to fix and repaint the Adirondack furniture. (A project that I am moving to November.)

The itemized budget looks like this:

  • Metal table and chairs
    • $8.50 – sanding supplies
    • $23.22 – spray paint
  • Solar deck post lights
    • $139.62
  • Tubed Lights
    • $33.78 – additional rope lights and extension cords

Final Reflection

I asked this question at the beginning of the post and wanted to ask again: When looking at my October project wall, what do you notice? Is it what was iccomplished* or what didn’t get done?

October’s Project Wall

I hope you are thinking, “It’s all the iccomplishments*!” If so, your thoughts echo mine!

That’s what the School Year Challenge is all about – setting goals and turning thinking into doing!

My friends, that is what I did! Projects that have been on my to do list for months (in some cases years) are getting done!

Sure, not everything I set out to do in October was completed, but looking back on the first two months of the School Year Challenge, I have iccomplished* more home projects during those two months than I can ever remember doing.

As a result, I no longer view the rooms in my home with a sinking feeling of despair when all I seem to notice are projects I think about doing but have never done.

Now, as I move around my home and see all the projects waiting to be done, my thoughts are accompanied with a lighter heart and anticipation of what I will iccomplish* next.

This is a subtle shift in thinking, but reframing how I view projects has a positive effect on my energy both physically and mentally. In turn, motivation for November’s projects is high!

Read the previous post in the School Year Challenge.

Read the next post in the School Year Challenge.

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