August 11, 2008

Messes

Thanks for your low-barf greeting card ideas! And if you're catching up on weekend posts, it's not too late to make suggestions: I'm working on a post about Etsy greeting cards for a Milk & Cookies post. (My motto: "Online window-shopping can totally be called 'working' if I can somehow make a post out of it!")


This morning I knocked a full glass jar of molasses onto the cement basement floor. It landed in the tiny space between the upright freezer and the giant shelf unit, so I had to try to scoop molasses (which is not as slow as it tries to pretend, but to be fair this isn't January) and broken glass out from the 1-inch gap under heavy objects. I mostly succeeded with the shelf unit, but Paul will have to move the freezer so I can get the rest of that part of the puddle before the ants find it. I'm sure there's a live-on-the-scene ant report interrupting their regularly-scheduled ant broadcast even as I speak.


It's been a week since our Yard Fail Sale. Here's the photo again of what I got rid of for $7:


I feel okay about the low-profit, though, because (1) we got rid of the stuff, which was the main goal here, and (2) I made a lot of decisions that, a week into it, appear to be happy decisions, and (3) my brother distracted me with the whole impending-aunthood thing. I'll list the happy decisions for those of you who enjoy clutter-removal discussions; the rest of you can go on with your day. Watch out for the molasses.

Happy decision the first: I REDUCED certain collections of toys instead of making everything pass/fail. That is, instead of saying as I usually do, "We can't get rid of our blocks or our play food! Blocks and play food are CLASSIC! And we PLAY with those," I got rid of about half of each set. I got rid of the less-popular play foods (eggplant, whole turkey) and I got rid of the little square number blocks no one ever makes buildings with. We now have manageable sets of both items and so they're more appealing to play with.

Happy decision the second: I went through the boxes in the basement marked "Fragile Pretty Stuff." There were some hard decisions in those boxes: the beautiful stained glass items I paid a co-worker to make for me; the carnival glass I used to collect but now don't; a few old pretty things from my ex-husband's grandmother. But I don't feel sad to have it gone. I did keep a few miscellaneous pieces of china, adding them to our current hodgepodge of dishes. I'd been afraid of breaking them, but when the choice was "use them or get rid of them" I've been happier risking it.

I got rid of the unopened-in-box extension I bought for our play yard: I thought we'd need it, but that is because I am poor with visualization and didn't realize the playpen would take up half our living room even without the extra panels. Then I didn't want to get rid of it because it was new! unopened! and who would want just the extension panels? But I'm glad it's gone: that was a lot of basement space.

I got rid of all our tablecloths. The idea of tablecloths appeals to me. They were easy and fun to find on clearance. I'd thought we'd use them. But we don't.

I got rid of most of our seasonal decor (not the holiday stuff---I mean things like autumnal wall swags). I'd thought for sure I was someone who would put up seasonal touches. But it turns out: no.

I got rid of an expensive United States puzzle that's no fun to put together---which is why we still had all the pieces, even the tiny ones like Rhode Island.

I got rid of our video tapes. Not the kids' video tapes, but, like, the Simpsons ones we bought and have since replaced with DVDs. Stupid progressing technology.

I changed my mind and KEPT our giant set of GeoTrax. It gets a second chance: now that we have a large clear floor area in the playroom, maybe we'll play with it. If not, there will be future opportunities to get rid of it.

One of the toughest things to let go of was the last of my chocolate-molding stuff. I originally had two large moving boxes full of it, and the last time I did a big clutter-purge I got rid of all but my dozen or so favorite molds and a shoebox of things like lollipop sticks and pretty wrappers. This time I got rid of the rest of it: I haven't molded chocolates for...ten years? And if I go back to it, chocolate molds are fun to buy. But I went back and forth on it, bringing them back inside twice before finally letting them go.

There! Done talking about clutter for today!

36 comments:

Mommy Daisy said...

Whew, that's quite an accomplishment. I am desparately wanting to purge through my house. It's coming, I can tell. I just need to get rid of the extra clutter.

Also, I didn't say before, but congrats on "the whole impending-aunthood thing". That's so exciting. An older friend of mine said that sometimes it's more fun being an aunt than a mom. I haven't had the chance to experience that yet either. So I am very excited for you!

Alice said...

it's always SO HARD for me to decide to get rid of stuff... but then i always, always, ALWAYS feel better when it's gone. you'd think i'd learn.

Kristin.... said...

I can't stand clutter. My house is FULL of clutter. I tend to be a bit of a pack rat, but I'm getting better. There are just some things that are hard to part with, but I really don't know why I'm keeping them. I guess I'm a sentimental fool.

jen said...

ahhhhhhh. I feel like someone stuck their hands in my head and fluffed it up and then left. :)

I've totally been reducing collections, we don't need such BIG collections of so many things. And I've stopped buying anything remotely little people or playmobil for that reason. And do I really need 200 million baby teether toys? And I totally understand the "use it and risk breaking it or get rid of it altogether" attitude.

I feel like things are so much nicer when not every single available space is used for storage, crammed full. It's nice to just have breathing room, and empty space.

Bebe said...

This is just the inspiration I needed today. I am needing to condense my girls' bedroom with their playroom so that baby # 3 can have a room when he or she arrives. I made a good effort this weekend, but still have lots of toys to go through.

My question to you: How do you manage to get rid of toys when there are little eyes always watching? It seems every toy I put in the "get rid of" box is met with cries of, "but that's my favorite!", even though it hasn't been touched in a year!

You're the best, Swistle!

Jess said...

I think you have the right idea. When it comes to getting rid of stuff, you just have to take a deep breath and do it. Now I just need to take my own advice.

Samantha said...

I was thinking the same thing bebe said about how do you get rid of toys with all the kids around? I only have one kid and if I try to get rid of just one toy he throws a hissy fit.

And if I would've dropped Molasses on my basement floor, I would have probably cried and then left if there for my husband to clean up.

d e v a n said...

Way to go!
I'm determined to get rid of at least 30% of the kids toys when we get home. We only brought one small box of toys with us and we're surviving just fine - so do we really need the other 197 toys at home? I doubt it.
We also have a HUGE garage sale pile in our garage, but haven't had a garage sale in about, oh, 3 years...
Next year. I swear.

Swistle said...

Bebe- It doesn't always work, does it! With the younger kids, what I do is act like I'm just cleaning up: I put the toys I'm getting rid of into toy bins---but then I get rid of them quietly later. But this is because our playroom is such a colossal disaster, I really do have to clean up before I can weed out. With the other kids, I have an "in-house yard sale": that is, I pay them for what they get rid of. It's a mere pittance (three full boxes of toys might get them $2), but it changes their money-hungry little attitudes.

Sarah M. said...

Wow, I am seriously impressed. You've just inspired me :D

My kids are only 2 and 6 months but I've started making it a habit to rotate toys. I'm hoping that by doing that they will get used to it in the future. We shall see if it works...

Mrs. M said...

ohmygosh I love talking about getting rid of junk and clutter reducing. stay tuned to my blog this week as I have before and after shots! With hubs and I taking full custody of my little brother we had to reduce AN ENTIRE ROOM!!!! I love a good challenge of getting rid of stuff! We reduced an entire dresser and closet of clothes. WOOHOO!

Lasha said...

This line made me laugh: "I'd thought for sure I was someone who would put up seasonal touches. But it turns out: no."

That's how I feel too!

Eva said...

Only you could make writing about clutter entertaining. Thanks.

Sarah said...

Oh I need to do what you did! My husband started yesterday - since the baby was born (15+ months ago), we've had a constant dish towel on the counter to dry bottles, bowls, spoons, etc....and he decided "hey, these can go in a cupboard/drawer once they're dry!" so now they are. I'm sure a lot of them will end up back on the counter though as they're used so much and are constantly 'drying'!

So we did the same with our glassware and mugs - too many! But we haven't gotten rid of them, just packaged them up in the basement - baby steps! I need to continue doing this, but the actual getting rid of is hard. We sometimes get rid of things we regret and have to repurchase them!

Also, getting rid of too much - doesn't that then make one's house appear sparse and dorm-like? Well I guess it doesn't matter since I have no eye for decorating anyway. And tablecloths - exactly - I can't get rid of them, but we don't use them (my most recent was 'the baby can use them to make a fort or a cape when he's older!). So now I collect empty plastic tubs too. Ay! Thank goodness for basements.

Oh, and Go You!

Sarah said...

And also, how to counter the 'get rid of stuff' with the 'look at the deals I got at this garage sale!'? I find myself drawn to all this toy crap that other people are getting rid of - why??

Swistle said...

Sarah- You and I are THE SAME about this. I'm always "packaging things up for now," too, and I think it really is a good technique: then if it's in the basement for awhile, I feel less attached and it's easier to get rid of it later. Also, then if I realize I DO need it, it's like a trial separation! Speaking of trial separations, I'm thinking of new stuff as "on trial," too: when I bring home a box of someone else's yard-sale stuff, I'm going to think of it as "visiting" us, and get rid of it after awhile. ...I suspect I'll never find out if getting rid of too much stuff makes a house look sparse.

Lainey-Paney said...

Awww...Only Seven Dollars?
Lo Siento.

But, doesn't it somehow feel liberating to be out from under that stuff???

Jen in MI said...

I was molding chocolates with my kids a few weeks ago and I was telling them how you and I used to have the "business". I was especially remembering the 75 or so light blue rose lollipops....Those were the days!

Danell said...

Soooo....if the Geotrax stuff doesn't work out, can I call dibs on it??
I just this very morning stood in ToysRus hemming and hawing over how to start off on getting Geotrax stuff...picking up a pack, then putting it back, then picking up another one, then putting it back...then finally deciding maybe I'd look for some on Ebay or something....

and also, so excited for Jonniker and her new Pregnancy Coach! =)

Swistle said...

Jen in MI- Oh, those lollipops! Those took FOREVER! And then...she didn't like them, right? Like, they weren't what she expected somehow? I also remember we kept spending our profits on pizza!

Linda said...

I can't believe you EVER made chocolate molds. And had a business doing it?! I am incredulous.

Paying your kids to get rid of their toys is brilliant. I'm filing it away.

Lindsay said...

Way to go swistle. Clutter is so annoying. We did a load of clothes last week and a day after dropping it off at the Sally Ann my husband said he couldn't even remember what stuff we gave away - obviously it wasn't that important to hold on to!

Michelle said...

Ooooo... you should have had an online garage sale with US!

I would have taken your chocolate molds off your hands (really). And the US puzzle? Totally up Mister Man's alley. He's a major puzzle freak.

Maybe next time? In the meantime, congrats on reducing the clutter! Go you!

Farrell said...

Sounds like my weekend.
I'm just donating everything though because having a yard sale is just too much work. How sad is that?

Anonymous said...

I have another bit of happy for you, Swistle... Or just a bit of torture, but either way, fun for me! I am a regular reader and commenter, and I just got a positive pregnancy test Saturday morning. I'm not announcing on my blog for a few weeks more, but I just thought I'd let you stew over it, since you had so much fun with your last anonymous pregnancy!

houndrat said...

Argh--we also have the giant tub over-flowing with Geo Trax. They only get played with every so often, but my son is a train freak and would have the world's biggest meltdown if they disappeared. So they are destined to keep the other assorted garage junk company for now.

And probably the only thing cheezier than a wedding card is an anniversary card. I just had to read through about fifty of the "To my dearest darling husband--My entire world revolves around how wonderful and euphoric the beauty of our magical love is, and my heart only grows bigger with the ginormous amount of yearning it holds for you. You complete me and make me want to be a better man." Or something like that.

After I retched a few times, I finally grabbed a blank one.
Good luck to you.

another good thing said...

Next time, just haul it all over to the Goodwill and get your tax write off.
Then go out for lunch.

Swistle said...

ANONYMOUS!!!! SQUEEEEEEE!!!

Rah said...

You're an inspiration. I'm unpacking from a recent move and last night I unpacked this stupid, heavy, mega-carving board (about 2 feet long and 18" wide) that I have hauled through the last 3 moves and have not used since 1995! I've kept it because it is HAND MADE and MY MOThER GAVE IT TO ME. It's going on top of the garbage when I set it out tonight--if someone sees it and wants it, they can have it.

SeaBird said...

I've just been doing some serious purging as well so I can commiserate (and celebrate)! I try to remember that I've never regretted giving anything away... it's never come back to haunt me. Not yet, anyway.

skiplovey said...

I'm still amazed at all the stuff you manage to accomplish with five kids.

We've been decluttering over here too, well kind of. It's more like pack up and bring to storage but some stuff manages to make it in the trash or over to goodwill. I don't know why but I love getting rid of stuff, it is so cathartic.

suddensilence said...

"I got rid of the less-popular play foods (eggplant, whole turkey)"

I just had to tell you that the above sentence made me literally laugh out loud. I don't think my kids EVER played with a fake eggplant (and yes, we had one too). I don't think they even knew what it was, since I've never bought an eggplant in my life.

We never had a fake whole turkey though...that just cracks me up!

Wait til they go to college, Swistle. My son moves to his dorm next week and going through his room is a mind-boggling task.

~ Wendi

Not Your Aunt Bea said...

You are inspiring! I too will be working on decluttering starting next week because well, we have to stay in this house even though we're busting at the seams. I like the idea of reducing certain types of toys. Like the 10 million Doras we have.

the new girl said...

I am not sure why but de-clutter talk fascinates me.

I LOVES it.

Emma's mom said...

I love the idea of reducing the play food and blocks by half. That's a great solution. We are hip-deep in toys and each time I try to get rid of some (any!) someone objects. Thanks for the great ideas.

t2ed said...

I love yard sales. Come on down and pick through stuff that I'm going to throw away unless you buy it!

Lots of work just for some cash that no one declares to the axmantay.