September 29, 2009

Medication Hoarders/Pitchers

My current Tidying Project is moving all the stuff from the old bureau we hate into the new (used) bureau I bought this weekend. No big deal, since they have the same number of drawers and are the same basic size. EXCEPT---bureaus have a horizontal surface, and in my house, horizontal surfaces get built on vertically to their toppling points. So I have to deal with a large heap of dusty stuff, some of which belongs there (jewelry box, little dish of Mysterious Parts that look familiar and we know we'll be saying "Oh THAT's what that was!" when we're looking for it a month later) and some of which doesn't (medicine dropper used for glow-in-the-dark paint, doll pantaloons), and that's going to take some time.

In the meantime I'm working on the drawers, and it turns out that if you want to come to my house to rob me of the three Percocet left over from my 2005 c-section, or the bottles of USELESS Demerol the OB prescribed in 2005 and 2007 when it turned out I was allergic to the Percocet, you should look in my underwear drawer. That's also where you should look for the remaining pills from The Failed Psychiatric Medication Experiment of 2002 (six bottles, some duplicates, each with a few pills). There are several more bottles, too---I haven't dug all the way to the bottom yet, but I know there are more beneath the Underwear That Fit in 2006 But Not Now. Betcha next I find the Tylenol 3 that made me queasy in 2001.

Listen, I KNOW I should be getting rid of these. I ALREADY KNOW IT TO BE TRUE. And yet I keep them. What if I ever had another c-section and I needed more than the prescribed day and a half's worth of pain medication that didn't work? What if there were an apocalyptic world event and I was really anxious/depressed and other marauders got to the pharmacies first?

Speaking of pharmacies, I used to work in one, and the two pharmacists I worked with had dramatically different opinions about expired medications. One said he would never give his own family expired medication, so he always told everyone else to get rid of it too; the other pharmacist said, essentially, piffle.

My mom, too, is a medication hoarder: half of an antibiotics prescription that was left over when the doctor switched her to another, and so on. My dad gets rid of medications immediately, either when the doctor tells him to stop taking it or, if it's over-the-counter, when it expires. Periodically he goes through the medicine cabinet just to be sure everything's necessary and up-to-date. I only recently got rid of antihistamines with a 2003 expiration date. It was a bottle of 100 and I'd only used a dozen or so! I didn't want to have to re-buy them!

Anyway, this is what I want to know today: Are you a medication pitcher? or are you a medication hoarder?

September 27, 2009

Productive Weekend

Some of you smarties have already found my reviews blog, which is so new it doesn't even have any reviews in it yet. I will not blame you one bit if you don't read it ever at all---I read VERY FEW review blogs myself. (I do read Live Well Spend Well because WHO CAN RESIST?)

I had SUCH a productive weekend. Yesterday I bought Elizabeth a bed frame I'd been considering for a few weeks at a consignment shop. It's painted white, and I think it's very OLD, and it was $82 which seemed like a lot of money until I went to a few furniture stores to look at new twin bed frames and HOLY CRAP, so this weekend I went and bought it and brought it home.

I needed it because we're rearranging the kids. Right now it's William and Edward (bunk beds) and Henry (crib) in the biggest bedroom, and Elizabeth and Rob each in one of the two smallest bedrooms. But Rob doesn't want to sleep by himself, and we were going to need to rearrange anyway when Henry went into a Big Kid Bed, so now Edward will be in a bunk bed with Rob and William will be in a bunk bed with Henry. But---Elizabeth's bed is really one of a set of bunk beds, so to reclaim it we had to buy a new single bed, and we also needed to buy a mattress because Henry will be in a twin bed instead of a crib. Are you following all this?

So yesterday I bought the frame I'd been dithering about. And today I went out and bought a mattress, and I did it with very little fuss: went in, listened dutifully to the nice salesperson, bought the mattress that cost what I'd had in mind. I can go pick it up on Tuesday.

That went so well, I stopped on the way home at the consignment shop again, to look again at a little phone chair (a combination chair and endtable) I'd seen when I bought the bed frame. I had thought of it several times and thought I would buy it, but when I went back and tried it out, it was so uncomfortable there was no way. But while I was there, why not do a little browsing? And that's how I came home with two bureaus.

Then I did my Tidying Task for the weekend, which was going through our Massive Collection of children's books. I bought a lot of these when Rob was a toddler and wanted a lot of books read to him and I felt I would GO MAD if I didn't have new material. I bought most of them at library book sales, where the books are 50c each or 3/$1 and the librarians seem to have very poor counting skills because they've known me since I was 8.

Until recently, I was thinking, "If I like the book, or if any of the kids like it, I should keep it." But today I was thinking, "We get fresh books from the library every week anyway, so why are we storing so many books HERE?" Still, this was a first sweep: if I had any doubt, I kept the book. Here are my results in the four---FOUR---areas of the house where we keep children's books:

Area 1, the downstairs playroom, top shelf only, Before.

Area 1, the downstairs playroom, top shelf only, After.

Area 2, Rob's room, Before.

Area 2, Rob's room, After.

Area 3, upstairs playroom, Before.

Area 3, upstairs playroom, After.

Area 4, Elizabeth's room, Before.

Area 4, Elizabeth's room, After.

The books we're donating to the library---plus there's another half-full diaper box I had upstairs already and didn't want to bring down just for a photo.

September 26, 2009

September 25, 2009

Target Haul

Last night I got dinner and pajamas done early and went to Target shortly after Paul got home from work because OMG EVERYONE TALKING AT ME ALL DAY LONG AND ALSO FIGHTING AND SCREAMING AND KNOCKING THINGS OVER.

I found SUCH a haul. And shut UP, Jane, I AM TOO decluttering.

Wall-E comforters, not particularly exciting to ME since I prefer the nice-even-for-adults comforters I bought long ago that never get used because they're too hard to wash if they get peed on, but Rob and William lovvvvvvvvve Wall-E and think he is the cutest! ever! and the comforters are cheap and thin so maybe they'll fit in the washing machine. Anyway, they were 75% off, so $7-something each and worth the no-doubt temporary thrill.

Unders, 50% off. I bought a few packs, and I'll buy more if they go to 75% off.

My co-aunt bought this shirt for our co-niece, and it is such a cute shirt you can not even believe it. So I bought it for Elizabeth too, so she and her cousin can match. It was $6 on sale down from $7, and it was the last one in 5T.

Two rugs to put in the mud room. One for wiping boots (foreground) and one for....stepping on and looking pretty (midground). (The light one with rings on it in the background was part of the household already.) 75% off, so the boot mat was $5 and the runner was $15 (doesn't $60 seem a little high for a 2x5 Target runner? Maybe that's why it was on clearance).

These Qubemates things are also for the mudroom, for backpacks and instruments and mittens and lunch boxes and homework and things. We need a system that can work for two kids, then four kids, then five kids, then back down the ladder until it's only one kid, and it would be nice if it were a system that could then be broken up later and used in other parts of the household. So I chose this system, where the pieces fit together and you can get a unit with an adjustable/removable shelf, or with a door, or with two drawers.

But OMG expensive! My plan was to wait for them to go on sale, and buy a unit or two each time, because the shelf one is the cheapest and those are $25 EACH, and the other kinds are $30 and $35 but I forget which is which. I guess the drawers must be the most expensive. Last night when I went, Target had run out of a sale item and was offering an instant substitute of the Qubemate with a shelf, so I bought four of them at $16.24 each. That was still wicked expensive to lay that kind of money down in a chunk, but it was $35 less than they would have been at regular price.

Pencil cases and mechanical pencils for later in the year when someone loses one. 75% off.

Cloth napkins for care packages, 75% off. One set is Simply Shabby Chic and has lace edges la-di-dah. The other set is the Target Home brand and I like the aqua color.

Pretty bins! I think fabric-covered bins are kind of dumb because they're impossible to clean, but they're so! pretty!, and they were 75% off, and I love them.

September 23, 2009

Sugar Babies

This is the correct way to eat Sugar Babies:

1. Put one Sugar Baby in mouth. Chew until integrity of jellybean-like exterior/interior is lost, and the graininess has become prominent---roughly 10-15 chews.

2. Introduce a second Sugar Baby. It will take fewer chews for the mixture to be predominantly grainy again. Chew until the feeling is less "chewing on yummy grainy candy" and more "can't get a grip with teeth and will need to swallow it soon"---roughly 25-30 additional chews. Add another Sugar Baby.

3. Continue in this manner until either the jaw or the palate desires a break, at which point cease adding Sugar Babies and swallow when natural to do so.

4. Rest. Use tongue to discover and remove small Sugar Baby deposits from teeth.

5. When ready, resume with step 1.

September 22, 2009

Tidying Issue: Candles

Just like last time, I am finding it challenging to write a post that doesn't look bad next to a Dead Cat post. In fact, I LOOKED UP what I did last time because I was hoping it would be an idea I could use again. But no: last time I wrote MORE about the dead cat, and then I wrote about my mother-in-law. Ack. She's coming in less than two weeks, and I don't want to talk about it this time.

Oh, how about a little Tidying Update? I got rid of all the rest of my dolls. Remember I had something like eighteen of them plus tons of clothes, and I went through and got rid of about half of it, and this time I went through and got rid of all the rest, keeping aside only a few outfits for Elizabeth's doll. I tried to keep a selection with high play-value: one snow outfit, one swim suit, one set of pajamas, one hospital johnny, several pretty dresses, several basic play outfits. The dolls and outfits I got rid of are going to one of my mom's friends who arranges to give dolls to kids who are in bad situations (in a shelter for abused women/children, lost all their things to a fire, etc.).

This was one of my most massive declutters, so it's too bad all that stuff was just in the basement: it does free up a ton of basement storage, but it doesn't make the living area look different/better. It was four large Rubbermaid bins, plus a three-drawered unit. Now it fits in one small Sterilite bin (except for the doll). There's a little space left in the bin, so I'm thinking "bin-full" will be our doll clothing limit: if the bin is full and we want another doll outfit, we have to get rid of something first.

I should have posed this so it looked more impressive, rather than stacking the bins (only three of them) in a small-looking pile. Well, anyway, those are three of the four Rubbermaid bins and the three-drawer unit in the background, showing the former Doll Territory; and in the foreground, the one doll (Elizabeth's---not one of mine) and her small bin of clothes.

I had a decluttering DREAM where I was throwing out a bunch of candles and feeling happy about it, so then when I got up I DID throw away some candles. But I got muddled because I do want SOME candles in case of power outage, but the ones that would be best for that (contained in jars) are scented, and scented is not so nice hour after hour. But does this mean I should keep the unscented one shaped like a rabbit? How about the unscented one shaped like a pumpkin? Maybe I should buy candles specifically for a power outage and get rid of all the others? Tidy People, advise!

September 20, 2009

Sad Cat News AGAIN

Well, geez. I have more sad cat news.

On Friday evening, I was heading upstairs after tucking the kids in, and our cat Louis (YES, I am giving a CAT a pseudonym, and I realize that's a little paranoid, but dudes, I write frankly about my mother-in-law here) (his real name is 01iver) was curled up on the carpet at the bottom of the stairs, which is highly unusual but he looked comfy so whatever. I paused to pet him, and he stood up to get harder pettings but he wasn't standing on one of his back legs. I carried him up the stairs to get a closer look and saw he had a bunch of scrapes and bites. I sighed, because he is TOO OLD to keep getting in cat fights, but he does it like once a week.

I tried to clean the two little matted/bloody spots on his leg, but he didn't like the look of the sink so I gave up. We settled him into the shoebox he likes in the computer room and he seemed fine---purring and squeezing his eyes and going to sleep.

In the morning, he was still there---and he ALWAYS sleeps on our bed, with in fact annoying persistence, so that was weird, but you know cats: weird. Paul picked him up and he mrowwwwwwwwwed so Paul put him down again, and we could see he still wouldn't put weight on his leg.

I felt like a dork calling the vet on a Saturday morning (their urgent-care hours) for what was probably going to be "Uh huh, yes, this cat's diagnosis is 'owies' and 'too old for this crap'," but...well, since Georgie, I've been a little more skittish about the cats.

And here I would like to make a long story shorter by saying that Louis's leg was shattered. Shattered. The vet thinks he was probably hit by a car. She gave him a huge dose of painkillers right away. And then she told me my options, and for a 15-year-old cat there was really only one good option, and yet there were officially other options and it feels bad to say, "No, I don't want to spend the $3,000---let's just have him die instead." But that is what I did. And then I brought him home and buried him in the back yard next to where Georgie is buried.

I was less upset this time. Last time I was a bit of a basket case, I think because it was all totally new and it gave me a Brush With Mortality along the lines of "OMG WE ARE !!!ALL!!! GOING TO DIE AND ROT AND THIS CANNOT BE PREVENTED!!!" whereas this time it was more like, "I remember where I left the shovel, and this time I will change into junky shoes first, and shoot I forgot it was pretty rooty over here but I guess I'll persevere so he can be next to Georgie."

Also, this time it was not TWILIGHT and POURING RAIN, which eased the melodrama.

I do feel awful that he spent an entire night with a broken leg. I would almost go so far as to say I feel guilty about it, but I think guilt is an inappropriate emotion when wrongs have not been intentionally committed---and in fact, we tried to do RIGHT. I moved the leg and he didn't protest, and I carried him around and he was purring, so my tests to establish whether this was an Emergency or not came back negative. Even the next day he seemed okay: I stuffed him into the cat carrier (oh, WINCE!) and he didn't fight it more than usual, and I pulled him out of the cat carrier (oh, WINCE WINCE WINCE!!) and he didn't protest. He seemed so okay, I felt like a dumbhead taking him to the vet.

But the vet tech just LOOKED at him and said, "Uh...oh. I want to warn you right now, that leg doesn't look good." So SHE knew right away, and I don't like it when something is obvious to someone else and so I end up feeling like I look neglectful/oblivious at best. It reminds me of when I brought Georgie in for a routine annual check-up and the vet immediately said, "...Does he always breathe like this?" and I didn't know what she was talking about, and it turned out he had congestive heart failure.

Well, whatever: I wish he hadn't spent a whole night with a broken leg.

September 18, 2009

Towel Tidying Tips

I have two questions---no, three questions.

The first question is: How did I manage to buy such uncomfortable shoes?

The second question is: Seriously, did I try them on someone else's feet or what?

And the third question is for the Tidy among you. It involves towel storage.

I have some photos to accompany this question, and I feel a little nervous because I will be showing you some of My Mess. The problem is that if I label my messiness as Bad, I'm also labeling everyone messy as or messier than me as Bad. Like, you know when a size 8 friend is talking about how very fat she is? And if you're a size 14, you're thinking, "If she thinks SHE'S fat, what must she think of ME?" It's all very well to say she's talking about herself and not other people, but what she's done is drawn her line, and now you know what side of her line you stand on.

People don't always INTEND to draw a line, they may be making a self-deprecating remark to decrease judgment and alleviate self-conscious anxiety. It's just that their self-deprecating remark also deprecates a whole group of other people who fall into their category and GOSH I do think that's something to be avoided.

Where was I? Oh, yes: so this is why I'm NOT going to make any self-consciousness-alleviating remarks about the photos. Even though I am feeling self-conscious about them.

What I need advice on is a Towel System. I used to keep towels on a shelf in the bathroom closet. Which is the perfect place for towels. The problem is, it's also the perfect place for a cat to seek refuge from children. I used to have a Cat Towel that I spread out over the pile of towels for fur-deflection, but then the towel would fall off, or the cat would knock over the pile of towels, or Paul would remove the cat towel to take a towel for himself and would neglect to replace the cat towel afterward. (I'm not criticizing him AT ALL---I'm very grateful he sometimes gets his own towel just as if he were a fully grown adult!)

The other problem is that the shelf is now too small to hold all our towels (SEVEN PEOPLE).

So anyway, here's a photo of the shelf that used to have towels on it. Now it has a towel-lined box for the cat, but the cat knows what's what and never sleeps there anymore. He's waiting for us to put the REAL towels back.

And here is the temporary witness relocation location for the towels: the top shelf of one of the kids' closets. I can't quite reach, so I have to half-fling them up there. And when I take a towel down, other towels come flopping down with it. It is frustrating, but at least the cat can't get up there.

And I don't even KNOW what to do with washcloths and handtowels. Even when I have a good place to keep towels, it frustrates me that washcloths/handtowels don't fold into shapes that fit neatly with folded bathtowels. Flinging them up on the shelf didn't work AT ALL, so now I keep them, um, on top of our bedroom bureau.

So, what to do with the towels? I've tried NOTHIN' and I'm all outta ideas.

The available locations are:
  • The shelf in the bathroom closet where they used to live, but with some sort of cat deflection system. Also, that shelf doesn't have room for all our towels (SEVEN PEOPLE), but maybe I could free a second shelf? ( <---totally impossible, please do not listen to rantings of lunatic). Well, soon we'll be able to move some of the towel population down to the second bathroom.

  • In the bathroom vanity. This might keep the cat away (though he can pick doors open if he finds out the towels are in there), and also I could put the vanity stuff on the former towel shelf. But how to fold the towels? And I don't think they'd all fit. But again, second bathroom soon.
  • On a lower shelf of the kids' closet, with other kid-closet stuff moved to the less-accessible shelf. Then we wouldn't be able to get a fresh towel if the kids were asleep, but that's a relatively minor issue.

  • Some other location.

Halp. Tell me how to tidy the towels, and where to do the tidying.

September 16, 2009

Shining Example

MY, haven't I been a lovely mother this morning! Some highlights:

1. When child asked a routine question, clutched sides of head and said "URRRRRRG!!! EVERYONE! STOP! ASKING! ME! QUESTIONS!"

2. At peak of busyness/frustration, when older two boys presented boring old million-times-repeated bicker ("He called me stupid" "Well he hit me!"), said "Shut up, both of you." Nice language. Nice diplomacy.

3. Claimed would throw away anything found on the floor, since floor-residence clearly meant no one wanted it. Nice irrational bluff.

4. Made general declaration of martyred righteousness, along the lines of "Why do I have to do all the work around here?" Nice adolescent example.

5. In the middle of busy before-school routine, couldn't tolerate mildew-speckled shower ceiling one! more! second! and started scrubbing at it with bleach wipes, then got frustrated with children for needing before-school assistance when I was clearly! busy! Nice priorities.

6. Asked series of questions I already knew the answers to, starting with "So you lost your lunch box," passing through "Your BRAND-NEW lunch box," and ending with "Less than a week after you got it." Nice shaming.

Well! Cleaning report: shower ceiling, which has had speckles of mildew for years as I've whined "But I can't REACH it," has a significantly reduced mildew population. I used a---wait for it---STEP STOOL. I know! I too was amazed that such a product could be applied to this situation!

September 15, 2009

P.S. and a Care Package

You are going to feel a lot less sorry for me when you hear that one of the things in the mail pile was this care package from Shelly of Notthedaddy:

The way it happened was this: Shelly of Notthedaddy sent a care package to Shelly of Scenic Overlook, and the package included a book I'd been wanting to read, and I said so in a comment on Scenic Overlook Shelly's post about the package, and Notthedaddy Shelly was all, "Oh hai! I am your fairy godmother!" and a package arrived in the mail for me. So now I'm thinking of trying that all OVER the place. "I've been wanting to drive that car," I'll say to you, or, "I've been wanting to try that Godiva chocolate," and you'll just hand it over!

This has put me in a care package mood. Plus, I'm trying to declutter, and I see no reason I couldn't "declutter" the gift closet a little. So let's have a care package. Leave me a comment that starts "I've been wanting..." and I'll pick a winner on Friday night (the 18th). I am afraid you have to be in the U.S. (or APO/FPO) for this: it is SO EXPENSIVE to ship a car full of Godiva a box of clutter overseas.

Welcome Home, Swistle!

I saw this for the first time this morning and assumed it must have happened during the night---like, a cat got trapped in the room or there was an earthquake or something. "OMG, what happened???," I said. "Oh, Henry pulled those down," Paul said. "...When?," I asked. "Saturday, I think," Paul replied. "...," I said.

Mail, including things such as PAUL'S MAGAZINES. I'd had no idea how vital my "putting them on his desk" role was to the household.

Before I left, I emptied all the trash cans.

Before I left, I did laundry like a madwoman (I'm assuming that's what madwomen do? Lots of laundry?) so that there would be NO NEED to do any. Paul was spontaneously moved to do some anyway. So far today I've found William's sleeping shorts in Edward's shirt drawer, William's shorts and jeans both crammed into his jeans drawer so that it can't close (shorts drawer is one drawer up and has plenty of room in it), and a little stack of mixed shirts, socks, and underwear resting comfortably in William's shorts drawer.

Paul SNIPPED OFF the pull-cord to this lamp (one of the reasons I BOUGHT the lamp), "because the kids kept messing with it." WT?????????????????????????????????

September 9, 2009

Apples! Pecans! Cell Phone! Water Bottle! Magazines! Candy! Boarding Pass!

I'm flying tomorrow to go see my niece, and I am just about to lose my mind in a whirlwind of happy travel stress. It's the GOOD kind, where there's Lots! To! Do! but it's all happy stuff. Packing my People magazines. Putting pecans and apples in baggies. Tucking the empty water bottle in the little net pocket. (Oh, are you looking for a whole post about what I'm bringing in my carry-on? You are so in luck!) Making sure my cell phone is charged so I can Twitter my Riveting Travel Updates (last time I made this trip, I informed everyone that I was on! the! plane!---you don't want to miss that kind of breaking news). Doing some laundry with the feeling of preparing the house for a Little House blizzard instead of with the usual feeling of trying to shovel during a snowstorm.

I'll be back on Tuesday, but I might be able to tear my eyes away from my niece long enough to send an update from Nieceville.

September 8, 2009

Cub Scout / Boy Scout Quandary

Right after I wrote about the watch this morning, I decided I MUST BUY IT and I went rushing off to Target. The watch was gone. Then I came home and read the comments, and I am NOT AT ALL bothered that almost everyone dislikes the pretty, pretty watch, and this definitely does NOT feed into my anxious fantasies that if we were to meet in person you'd be all, "OMG, she is a FASHION DISASTER! I expected so much more from her carefully-posed-and-angled publicity shots in which she has done her hair and is NOT wearing an orange watch!"

(Maybe the watch is cuter in person?)

Anyway, I have a new quandary. Rob wants to join Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts or whatever. I asked him why he wants to join, and he said he wants to toast marshmallows and learn to survive in the wilderness, and I was thinking maybe Cub Scouts would not be ONLY that.

Also, it seems to me that in our area, such groups are High! Parental! Participation! Pressure! and I am NOT INTERESTED AT ALL.

So here is what I am wondering:

1. What is a typical Cub Scouts meeting like? Toasting marshmallows the whole time?

2. Is there indeed an expectation of parental participation, with grousing from the other parents about how "It's always the same parents who help and the same ones who don't"---as if the other parents could not possibly be spending their time helping with other things the scout parents aren't interested in (and grousing "It's always the same parents who help and the same ones who don't")?

3. OMG. Do you know any Cub Scouts or former Cub Scouts, and if so, tell me everything you know, from uniform prices to badges to how often the meetings are to what the WHOLE CONCEPT of Cub Scouts is.

Watch Quandary

I saw this Casio watch at 75% off at Target yesterday ('s original price is inflated, because Target's original price was $59-something and their clearance price was $14-something), and I DIDN'T BUY IT. Now I am kicking myself. What was WRONG with me? I was all, "I can't read the display, whine whine!" but surely I could have LEARNED to read it? And it's cute! And I need a watch! And it was 75% off! And it matches my new bathroom!

I'm wondering if I should drive back to Target today, more than an hour round-trip with three small children, on the off-chance that the watch will still be there. (Are you about to suggest that I call the store and have them check? THEN YOU ARE NEW HERE.)

September 6, 2009

As Many X as We Have Room For

Today I took a big bag and I went through the kids' drawers, using the "You can keep as many X as you have room for" motto. I find so many good deals, and I do so much buying-ahead, it's not uncommon for me to end up with, say, twice as many t-shirts as a child needs. They were only $1.74 each! ---Well, but we don't have room for them all, so there's a full drawer plus a stack of alternates waiting in the closet.

It was hard at first, because I LIKE all the shirts. It was easier when I divided into colors: Yes, I like brown shirts on Rob, but does he need FIVE brown shirts? No. Let's keep this one because it's a polo (the other four are t-shirts), and this one because it's the best of the plain brown, and this one because it's striped brown, and these two other brown ones go into the bag. Then: blue shirts.

My efforts were "first sweep" level: I'm not ready to pare down to the essentials of life, and I LIKE a little bit of excess, but I kept reminding myself that even if I got rid of only ONE SINGLE T-SHIRT that was SOME progress. We needn't go from king to monk overnight, but LET'S MAKE SOME PROGRESS.

I took another bag and tried to fill the whole thing with stuff to throw away, not including anything already in a trash can. My house isn't littered with pizza boxes and beer cans, but it IS littered with kid-meal toys, little paper art projects someone stepped on, popped balloons, pine cones someone collected on a walk and then lost interest in, empty bottles of lotion no one threw out, broken paddleballs, catalogs someone partially cut up for an art project and then forgot about, etc. I didn't manage to fill the WHOLE bag (in part because a lot of stuff I got rid of could be recycled), but it made a single-layer-gone kind of difference in the house: I couldn't put a finger on what was different, but everything looked a little better.

"You can't clean clutter."
"You can keep as many X as you have space for, and no more."
"Small efforts are still worth it."

September 5, 2009

Painting the Bathroom!

We chose a color! I was reading all your suggestions and comments, and then I got to Jen of Never Melts, who said she'd painted her bathroom ORANGE. It took about 4 seconds for me to be completely committed to having an orange bathroom.

I played around with Behr Color Smart, then went to Home Depot and got paint chips of the orange shades I liked best, then brought them home and looked at them a bit more and picked my favorite and we're putting it on the walls today.

This is just the first coat, and also the lighting makes it look funny, but you get the gist, which is orangeness. It's Orange Spice 250B-5.

I lovvvvvvve it. And since my towels are "one each of what was on clearance at Target," they'll go PERFECTLY. Blue! Green! Yellow! Pink! Red! EVERYTHING goes with orange! Orange is the new cream!

At Least I Didn't Get Peed on by the Partridge

We have a pear tree in our yard (*pause for partridge jokes*), and I don't know what kind of pears those are but they're SO YUMMY. But we also have an apple tree, and the apple tree has gotten unpruned enough (*pause for prune jokes*) that it's shouldering out the pear tree, and this year the pear tree has produced eight pears (usual is several dozen), way up high where I can't reach them but neither can the apple tree so I guess I can see the pear tree's point.

The pears are ripening, and I've lost two because they fell and birds/bugs/rot got them. So today I had the GENIUS IDEA to lightly SHAKE the tree, and then any ripe pears would fall down to me and I could get to them before anything else did. I shook the tree; a pear fell down; I AM A PEAR-HARVESTING GENIUS. I shook the tree again, and a pear beaned me (*pause for bean/fruit jokes*) right in the upturned eyebrow. It hit so hard, everything went black for a few seconds. (Or maybe I just closed my eyes when a pear hit half an inch away from them, whatever.) Now my eyebrow is puffy and sore...and sticky. Stop laughing---that pear was REALLY HIGH UP.

September 4, 2009


My sandals, let me show them to you:

I got these from Lands' End on a pre-summer sale for $29, and I've been wearing them all! summer! long! I love how shoe-like they are (my previous sandals had soles that were thin pieces of nothing), and how they don't smell bad, and how they don't make embarrassing suctiony sounds against my flat, flat feet when I walk. I love that the footbed is neither slippery-plasticky-smooth nor suedey-hard-to-clean. I don't love the velcro, which is of course starting to curl, but I still love the sandals.

So when some of the colors went on clearance for $14.99 I should have told you immediately, but I hadn't decided yet which ones to buy or how many, and I was worried that you would pounce on them and buy them out from under me, because I am a Sharing Person but not so much a Sacrificing Person. But now I have decided and ordered, and now I am ready to share. I'd bought the pink ones originally, and the green clearance ones (my second choice) weren't available in my size. I bought the Coral Orange and the Gull Gray.

I would not call the orange ones "Coral Orange." I would call them "Tide Bottle Orange" or "Target Clearance Sticker Orange."

They are in fact oranger than I would like, but the pink ones dulled down from a summer of sand and sun and water, so I imagine the orange ones will too.

I super-love the Gull Grey ones: they should be called Gull Grey & Pretty Yellow, because the two colors both contribute strongly to the overall color of the sandal.

If you buy the Brown, which look like they should be called Brown & Target Clearance Sticker Orange, be sure to let me know what you think of them---I NEARLY bought them too but had to draw the line SOMEWHERE.

September 3, 2009

Cleaning Report

Dudes. I did so much MESSING AROUND with clutter and dirt today, I didn't even stop every few minutes to Twitter what I'd done, it was THAT MUCH messing around! But it's too bad I didn't Twitter it, because when I post on Twitter I can go back and remind myself what I did.

Big project of the day was cleaning the floor of our closet. ...I think I did mention before that my cleaning is not always RATIONAL, and that oftentimes I go with it anyway? Yes. So I hauled out about six brand-new sets of king-sized sheets bought at 75% off; maybe ten pairs of shoes including "tags still on" and "Why aren't these long since thrown out?" and "Whose ARE these?"; a box of maternity clothes; several shirts that had fallen off hangers without us noticing; scraps and coins that had slid under the door and gotten shoved under everything else; empty Target bags; a wadded-up down comforter we only use in winter; a pint of dust and lint and cat fur and sand.

I gathered up one bag of shoes to donate and put one set of sheets in the donation pile too. I put the comforter back into the zippered vented bag it was sold to us in (which I also found crammed in the closet). I filled another bag with shoes too worn out to donate, plus the sand/fur/etc. And I used the dustbuster.

Then I put things back in: sheets in a stack, comforter next to them. Three shoe boxes, each holding a pair of shoes I'm keeping but don't need in regular rotation: winter dressy, summer dressy, and shoes that go with a particular skirt I wear to baby showers and tea shops.

I threw away a pair of bee slippers (bee-shaped, not bee-intended) I like to wear to the maternity ward because I can slip them on/off easily and they're cute. I dug them back out of the trash, because I could be in non-maternity parts of the hospital sometime.

I put the box of maternity clothes in the basement. I should donate them but I want to keep them a little longer.

In general, though, I'm trying NOT to get caught in little eddies of clutter that no guest should ever have the opportunity to notice anyway (if my mother-in-law goes into our bedroom closet, we have deeper problems than previously realized). But I did get rid of a vintage suitcase (matching ROUND carry-on) I never use because it's hella heavy and smells bad. And when I went to put away something on the Gift Shelf, I pitched out two toys I bought long enough ago to be pretty sure I'll never give away.

Here is something I've noticed: there are many times during the day when I am standing around gazing into space, and I can use those times to play "Is There Anything Here I Can Get Rid Of?" So, for example, while I'm brushing my teeth I would normally be staring at myself in the mirror and wondering if I have tongue cancer, but instead I open the cabinet and see if my eye alights upon anything I can toss. I got rid of a lipstick, an expired bottle of cold medicine that didn't work anyway, a barrette I don't like, a tube of eye cream I never use, and so on.

And while I'm giving the cookies another minute in the oven, I would normally be staring at the countertops and wondering what the CRAP is that weird yellow stuff and why am I the ONLY ONE who EVER cleans countertops, but instead I open a cabinet or look around at the counters. I got rid of a mug, some baby spoons, lids that came with some baby bowls but I never use the lids anymore, a box of cereal nobody likes, a box of tea bags I never use, and so on. Not all at once, but like the mug went one time and the lids went another time.

I find this is putting me in the nice beginnings of a clutter-noticing habit. Mustn't get one's hopes up when one has a lifelong reputation for cleaning binges rather than consistency, but I AM finding that things are gradually disappearing and that it's adding up to pleasing changes---whereas usually I'd think, "What's the point in getting rid of ONE MUG? Besides, we have room for it."

Now for those of you not following on Twitter, here are the other things I've gotten rid of:
  • broken postage scale
  • hand-knit baby blankets
  • baby hats and baby coats
  • baby bath seat
  • half-used workbooks with all the fun parts done
  • Easter door hanging
  • gross instant flavored coffee
  • expired Jell-o in non-favored flavors
  • bits of trash (bread ties, foam craft shapes) on top of microwave
  • little decorative nest with 5 eggs in it; I'd thought it would be sentimental but it was hard to display and impossible to dust
  • fridge magnet paper doll that was insufficiently magnetic and so was always stripping her flat little clothes right where they'd get kicked under the fridge
  • Tide with Febreeze (used up, not tossed)

And here is my current mantra: "You can't clean clutter! You can't clean clutter!" It helps me to continue through the layers in the hopes of someday seeing the wipeable flat areas underneath.

September 2, 2009

Choosing Paint

The basement bathroom is ready to paint. I've talked before about my love of cream-colored paint, and so my original plan was to paint the bathroom Sea Salt like the dining room. Then I remembered that our basement is in fact painted with colors: I used two shades of DARK cream, otherwise known as yellowish, and I think a white bathroom would be not so pretty next to that.

Oh, who am I kidding, it's that painting with cream-colored paint is unbelievably dull, as bad as painting two coats of primer, and I'm sick of it and I don't want to do it again. I want to use a color not because I particularly want colored walls, but because it's boring to paint with white. If I were hiring a painter I'd have the painter use cream, but I'm NOT so I'm NOT. Okay, and FINE, I think it would be fun to choose a color for a change.

So! Let's choose a color. One of the shades I used in the basement is the exact color of eggnog. Seriously, I'd poured some into a little plastic container for doing the edges, and I kept ALMOST drinking it. The other shade is the same basic idea as the eggnog shade, but one step darker down on the strip---more like Classic Pooh (as opposed to rainbow-yellow Disney Pooh).

I am NO GOOD at choosing colors, but I AM happy with those shades of dark cream. So one possibility would be to use the same one(s) in the bathroom. Problem: would yellow be kind to complexions in the mirror? I would like to be kind. Plus: kind of boring to do the same color again.

What appeals to me most is a light green, yellowish, new-leaf-type. But greens are so hard to choose! One false move and it's Hospital or Seafoam or Mint or Nauseated. Plus, with the complexions? No good?

I'm also considering a pale, glowing lilac color. I asked Paul if that would be too girly and he said no, that would be fine. But this is probably the bathroom our ADOLESCENT BOYS will be using later on. Not that boys can't take showers in a purple bathroom. In fact, they should feel fortunate I don't make them use the garden hose in the driveway.

I don't really want to dither this to death, though. When I chose those yellows, I took every single remotely-cream/yellow paint chip in the store, and I leafed through them for WEEKS. I dealt them out and compared. I eliminated some, then added them back in. I paused Gilmore Girls so I could see which yellows looked most like the yellows in Luke's apartment and in Lorelai's house. I poster-puttied finalists to the walls so I could do quick evaluations every time I walked by, and so I could see them at all times of day. I fretted that I should really be getting sample cans and painting little pieces of the wall.

This time I was thinking I might just...walk into the store, pick a color that looks good, and go out with a can of paint. The bathroom kind of needs to be painted this weekend. I mean, it wouldn't be an emergency if I postponed, but I think I've pushed the patience of the flooring people far enough already.

September 1, 2009


You know what is surprisingly similar to going through the Dunkin' Donuts drive-through and getting a flavored coffee and two doughnuts? Having coffee with flavored creamer and two slices of bread with Nutella. It SOUNDS like a sad sorry substitute, but it doesn't FEEL that way, and I can't believe how similar Nutella-bread is to doughnuts (Elizabeth, sniffing my breakfast: "I know that smell! It's DOUGHNUTS!!").

The initial investment is larger (I paid $6 for a bag of Dunkin' Donuts coffee grounds, $3 for a jar of Nutella, and $3.50 for a thing of flavored coffee creamer, all at Target), but the ingredients last for many servings and it's easier to go back for second helpings without the drive-through girl saying "Back again so soon?" in a tone that's hard to put a finger on but isn't quite nice. Plus: no children in the back seats begging for doughnuts, no trying to figure out how to order the amount of cream and sugar I like ("Last time I said regular? and that was a little too much. So could I have, like, 75% of regular?"), and no using up a paper bag, a paper doughnut-grabber, several paper napkins, and a paper cup (I am practically NURSING BABY SEALS BACK TO HEALTH AND HAPPINESS by staying home).

I think I'll start doing some of the cleaning updates on Twitter. I get so excited to tell you all the latest, but when I went down to the pantry for a new thing of coffee creamer this morning, and I threw away the fat-free kind I bought 2-3 years ago and rarely use and the huge tub of unflavored kind Paul got me by mistake that I kept thinking I might mix with Nesquik or something but never did, I wasn't sure my excitement over those two little pitch-outs was worth, like, a POST. Though I see that didn't stop me from posting two paragraphs about my breakfast.