Category Archives: Declutter

Bogged Down in the “little” Things

April is a particularly busy month for me, logistically.

In my state your car registration and inspections are done in the month of your birth. For me, that’s April. Oh, and taxes are due in April (I filed mine in February, but still!).

Let’s see, what else do we have? This month I also have to get back to the lab for a blood draw to check my cholesterol level after changing my medication in January. Belle is going to counseling once a week, which she can’t get to on her own. I have my semi-annual dentist appointment next week and oh yeah, I’m preparing to leave my children for 5 days in less than three weeks, and the preparations required for that (for me, them, but mostly my mother, who will be staying with them while I’m away) are substantial. Things on my “would like to do list” before that trip are: get a hair cut, pedicure, clean the house, ensure food in the house for all meals my mom will need to prepare, and probably too many other things to list since I’m already stressed out just writing that little bit out!

So back to the car. My car is four years old and the front tires have been looking pretty bad for awhile. I had intended to get them replaced before the long trip we took just after Christmas, but that never happened. It was the looming April inspection deadline that spurred me to do something about it (finally!), and last week I had 4 sparkling new tires put on my car. My credit card is still warm after that $700 charge. This morning I had a half hour buffer between dropping Belle off at school and my next set of meetings, so I swung into the quick service oil change place on the corner for an overdue oil change and inspection. Some 40 minutes later I rolled out of there, having turned down every extra service the young, eager and well-schooled technician tried to push on me, with my shining 2009 inspection sticker and (presumably) fresh clean oil coursing through my car’s veins.

I feel lighter, knowing the car stuff is done. None of it was particularly difficult (though expensive), but it took time, which I have precious little of. Now I can concentrate on all the other things on my to-do list, and hopefully be able to kick back and really relax when I leave town on May 9th. Not that I’m counting down or anything.

Internet Silence

When I first got on the Internet at home, it was through a dial-up connection. I think my modem was a whopping 28.8, which at the time was screaming fast. How barbaric. I lived in a condo that didn’t have cable or DSL availability so a lot of my Internet work was done, well, at work.

Then, whooooooosh! I became a parent, got married and moved to a place with cable Internet. Before I became a parent I had oodles of free time and spent a good deal of it reading. I became a mom 5 months before I got married, so I was dealing with a lot of change at once. Dealing with new  parenthood and new wifedom was not easy, though I acclimated much faster to the parenting than the wifing. Hence the reason I am single now. Anyway! When Krystal was little I had absolutely no free time when she was awake and the only time I was online was during working hours (when she was not around).  When she was sleeping I was on wife duty, which primarily meant watching TV with the wusband.

Now Krystal is 8 and doesn’t rely on me as much for entertainment. Even Belle is older than Krystal was when I became single again, and has always been pretty good at entertaining herself. Generally speaking, if we are home and they are watching TV or playing, I am either on the computer (which is in the same room as the TV), or making dinner.

When we get home from an outing, one of the first things I do is hop on the computer.

After putting the girls to bed, even if I am going to watch TV for the evening, I get on the computer first (and sometimes during).

I think I might be a little addicted to the Internet.

I am going to set a date, soon, to be Internet Free for Me. Instead of going online for that day, I will do all the things around the house that I don’t have time to do because every free moment is spent on the Internet. Some of those things are:

  • Gather and organize outgrown kids’ clothes for sale or donation
  • Write Belle’s Lifebook
  • Work on training Tessie (“come” and “stay” are big ones)
  • Utilize some of the principles in “It’s All Too Much” to cull out the extraneous crap in our house

The list goes on and on. But I must admit to you, my Internet friends, that going a day without being online sounds a little scary. It shouldn’t. But it does. The sooner, the better, right? Maybe this Sunday.

I’ll let you know on Monday how it went. If it went.

No Room in the Frig!

I’m on day, let’s see, Day 9 of Weight Watcher’s. I had my first weigh-in after being on the program for a week yesterday, and had a loss of 1.2 pounds, exactly in the healthy range. They recommend a loss of 1-2 pounds per week as a healthy rate of loss. I must confess that, although I’d read that time and time again since I first started reading teen, and then women’s, magazines, it wasn’t until I lost my post-marriage weight that it all made sense. You have to make gradual changes to make them a habit, and to ensure you can keep that weight off. And lest you think I was unsuccessful because I’m back at it, I want you to know that I lost 18 pounds nearly 4 years ago, but have gradually put back on about 7 of them. My goal is to drop those 7, plus maybe a few more.

But that is not what I came here to talk about!

Since I’ve been on WW, lo, these past 9 days, I’ve been trying to eat better. Which is kind of the point, no? And I am! I am eating healthier, feeling better, and trying to figure out how to make myself remember all this when I feel like throwing in the towel. I really do feel better when I eat better. Who’da thunk??

But I have a problem I wasn’t counting on.  My refrigerator is full! I am shopping more frequently than usual (1-2 times per week, versus 2-3 times per month) and even though I go in planning on only a few items, inevitably I come out with far more. And the fresh stuff (roasted broccoli and cauliflower is my current go-to, ever-so-delicious snack!) takes up a lot of room!


I really need to figure out a way to feed us all on this for awhile till it gets down. A lot.

Who’s got the button?

I took last Friday off work and got my hair cut, and then did a little shopping, since I had the luxury of all that time to myself to browse, try things on, and actually hear my own thoughts as I debated what to buy.

After all that, I only bought two new shirts for myself. I’m wearing one of them now. It’s a shirt that buttons up the front. It’s nice, I like it.

But when I was cutting the tags off there was a little pouch with a spare button in it. I confess, I used to save all these in my jewelery drawer (which is really more like a junk drawer in my bedroom, but that’s another post). One day I threw out all those orphaned buttons, because c’mon, if I ever needed to replace one, it would take pawing through them all to find the right one, if I even could.  So I threw this one out as well. I have no spare buttons in the house.

Do you keep all those spare buttons that come with new clothes? If you do, where do you keep them? Have you ever actually used one to replace a missing or broken button on the original item of clothing?

In separate news, I culled out 12 pair of pants and 18 sweaters and sweatshirts from my own closet on Sunday…and I still can’t see a difference! So no, I don’t feel bad about letting a little button go….

S – Serenity Now

Remember that old Seinfeld episode where George’s father screams “Serenity Now” to calm himself down?

I need a dose of serenity. Now.

Despite my erratic attempts at simplifying and decluttering our lives, we seem to only fall farther behind. It is quite literally making me crazy.

So crazy, that tonight when K asked if we had any plans for tomorrow (aside: today was a big outing to the New England Aquarium), and I said I expected the living and dining rooms to be cleared of all the toys that have accumulated, and she responded with a whine, I lost it. After screaming so long and so loud (my throat actually hurts from screaming), I had to take myself out of the room for a few minutes to calm down. NOT good.

While I was away, B took it upon herself to clean up the books and clothes that had been littering their bedroom floor just moments before.

Bless her little heart – she can be so sweet.

When I returned, I apologized profusely to both of them. I shouldn’t have lost it like that. But I don’t feel any less crazy about the condition of our house or my life.

Serenity Now. Serenity Now. Serenity Now.

Senseo – huh?

I did something a week or so ago, and I can’t figure out now why, exactly.

I clicked on a link in a blogger’s comment for the Senseo promotion, and for a modest $15 fee, was sent a Senseo single serve coffee maker.

So far, so good, right?

Only thing is – I don’t even like coffee! Oh, and my counter top has no room to hold this thing.

I was hoping I could find some non-coffee flavors to make in it, but at my local Target today, the closest I could find was a flavor they call “Paris”, but it is still coffee. And yes, I tried it and it’s still too coffee-ish for me. I rationalize by saying it will be nice to have, on the rare occasion I have someone over who would like coffee, and I can offer something besides directions to the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts. But really, what was I thinking??

Hot chocolate, tea, anything but coffee, anyone? Anyone know of any generic “pods” I can use in this so I’m not tied to the Senseo brand stuff?

Wagon, where are you?

And so it goes.

I had been doing really well with not doing any “recreational shopping”. Target has always been a big hole for me – I can wander around there for hours picking up things here and there that I didn’t know I needed till I saw it. But I hadn’t been doing this lately, not for a few months.

Then this Sunday’s flyer had the electronic item K has been jonesing for on sale. And my Red Card 10% off coupon arrived the K had amassed $99 (plus one more Monday night from the Tooth Fairy!) and with the 10% discount, the DS would come to $107. I told her I would advance her the $7 since I really can’t see making her wait, only to have to save that much more money.

So this morning after dropping kids off and before going to work, I went to Target. It doesn’t help that I quite literally HAVE to drive by everyday to and from work! Bought the DS. Picked up a case and a game (do you have any idea how expensive the games are!?!?!). Figuring, hey, it’s all 10% off and the game was also on sale.

Then I started thinking about it at work. There was another game on sale that she had mentioned. It’s always good to have gifts on hand.  And oh yeah, my SIL is expecting her first baby in May and I want to send her some stuff. So back I went AFTER work. Bought 4 outfits for the baby, a few toys, another game (!), and my favorite dark chocolate Dove mini’s which were also on sale (plus I had a coupon!). And since the 10% off card was good all day, another 10% off my total purchase. Do you have any idea how much I just put on my credit card today??? Granted, K is paying for the biggest chunk of it. But I definitely got caught up in the “spend more to save more” mentality. And it was so damn easy. Too easy!
Back on the wagon…..

Spending Spree

I’ve been unofficially limiting my shopping this year, inspired mostly by Chris. And doing fairly well at it too, I must say. In the past Target has been known to send me subliminal messages the whole time I’m in there (I’m not sure I’m kidding – everyone I know says the same thing!). And I have mostly avoided that since the new year by mostly staying out of Target! I have been in twice to buy birthday presents for parties one or both kids was invited to. Oh, and I did hit it on the day after Valentine’s Day to get the half price Dove Dark bagged chocolate (love that stuff!). Considering it was a twice a week stop before (for what, I can’t tell you!), this is definitely progress.

But in the last week I have spent some money. And not in Target, or in any other store. Online. I bought two sports bras online (which I really do kinda need – the ones I’m wearing are no less than 15 years old – and one of them doesn’t have much support anymore – lucky for me I am not particularly endowed). Sports bras are not cheap, man. But I guess, considering I do wear them (well, one) everyday, and I haven’t bought a new one in double digit years, it’s not so bad. Another online purchase was for this bag. Yes, it’s expensive. But this is the best price anywhere – believe me, as I’ve been searching around for months. But it does make me feel really guilty. Because I don’t “need” it. It’s a want, pure and simple. I hope I love it. I guess if I don’t I can sell it on eBay or Craigslist. Yet another purchase was yesterday, at my first ever Pampered Chef party. Where, even though I didn’t need a single thing, I felt obligated to buy something. And walked away $50 lighter….

It’s way too easy to spend money. Maybe going to cash only would be a better way to curb the spending.

Got Books?

I haven’t mentioned my decluttering efforts in awhile. That’s mostly due to the “two steps forward, one step back” phenomenon – the increments are relatively small. Plus, as I’ve mentioned, K just turned 7 a few weeks ago, and B turns 4 on Friday, which means we are running amok in birthdays. K got a ton of stuff from friends at her party, and B’s party is this Saturday. More stuff is expected to descend up on the house. Heavy sigh.

My kitchen, which was getting into shape, has descended again into chaos. It’s the countertops – they just don’t stay clear for long.  On the plus side, we have been pretty successful with “eating what we have.” While I have definitely been spending money in grocery stores, it’s mostly along the lines of fresh fruit and vegetables, milk, bread, cheese and other things we eat frequently that don’t keep for long periods of time. So I am feeling pretty good about that!

The other day in the mail we got our regular Valpak envelope, stuffed with coupons for things I would never buy, or which don’t seem to offer any real discounts. Despite this, I always go through it, usually tossing them as soon as they’re touched. But this week there was a “coupon” for something I don’t think I’ve seen before – Got Books? Seeing as how I have been driving around with several boxes of books and videos, this really caught my eye! A quick search turned up a drop box not far from my house, so I swung by there yesterday and dropped all my books and videos in there and felt damn good about it too! Turns out this appears to be a locally operated thing, but hopefully for anyone reading this who may have their own stash of books/videos that need a new home, this will be expanding.

I also want to congratulate myself for not shopping recreationally this year at all.  I’m not sure when I’ll feel it in my credit card statements, since I’ve also purchased plane tickets for our summer trip, but I do feel good about not buying “stuff”.

Shopping and Eating

You know what I have realized these last few weeks? It’s really easy to not buy stuff if you don’t go to any stores!  No, really! I don’t think of myself as a “shopper”, per se. Apparently I need to readjust my definition of the word, because I used to take the opportunity to spend money every time I stepped in one (especially Target, Wal-Mart and CVS). But I have spent virtually nothing on “stuff” these last two weeks or so, because I haven’t stepped inside a store! When I picked up a prescription at CVS a few days ago, instead of wandering the aisles for various toiletries, snacks, chocolate, etc to pick up, “as long as I was there”, I went through the drive through. After all, I only needed that prescription and not any of that other stuff (especially not the snacks and chocolate!).

And given my newfound commitment to my own health (via my eating habits), the same philosophy holds true. If you don’t spend it (eat it), you don’t have to worry about paying for it (working it off).  I guess some real introspection on how badly I need or want an item would go a long way to making smart choices in both arenas. C’mon, I do need to buy some things, and I do need to eat some things. Just need to be conscious of the choices for both.

One thing about eating healthier though – it’s more expensive than eating junk, and you  have to shop more often!