Life in 409

This blog is about my quest to declutter my apartment. It focuses on clutter, decluttering, and the endless quest to separate the junk from the important stuff - at home and in life.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Clearing a path

Sorry I have not posted. Believe it or not, I have gotten a lot done at home. I can see the differences, here and there, though I think a stranger walking in would still be a little overwhelmed by the clutter.

I actually got inspired by taking out "Organizing from the Inside Out" at my local library - and then proceeded to ignore most of the instructions and planning stages, in favor of jumping right in (which the author specifically said NOT to do). The book actually makes a lot of sense and has already helped my thought processes somewhat. I loved the idea of making a space easy to use, so you use it more often. Case in point, my filing. I do tend to keep a lot of papers (mainly paid bills and medical claims) but my filing tends to pile up, because my file box is in an inconvenient place. I keep it on the shelf under the computer which is a)dark, b)hard to get to, especially when someone is on the computer, and c)distracting, because I usually end up jumping online "just for a second" and stay online until I get called away, usually before I actually do any filing.

So, I bought a new file box (to replace the shabby A-Z file folder currently housed inside a milk crate) and I put the file box in the kitchen - next to the mail slot where I usually end up sticking the stuff to be filed. VOILA!!! File this under "why didn't I think of that?"

In the process of being excited about filing (and also thinking about getting my tax stuff ready), I also threw out a ton of paperwork. Like I said, I save a lot of papers. I don't think I'm obsessive as some people, but I realized there was plenty I could throw away, including
  • Medical claims and paid bills from 1997-2001 (I kept the last few years though)
  • Bank statements and paid credit card bills from 1997 to maybe 2002 or 2003
  • All the paperwork on my student loans, which were paid off in 2003 (I kept the final statements for each)
  • Paid parking tickets from over the last 10 years. There must have been 20 or 30. I only kept the most recent ones.

Probably some other stuff went out too. I didn't weigh everything but I'd guess there were 50 to 100 lbs of paper. Amazing! In doing this I cleared a whole shelf on my printer stand and fit all the rest into another file box (it's mainly tax stuff going back 6 years and the bank statements & credit card bills from those years). That's also in the kitchen now, underneath the active files. Of course, the newly cleared shelf is already filled with stuff again, but that's temporary -- it's mainly stuff I want to put on ebay, Craigslist or Freecycle and haven't had a chance.

Best of all, it's easy and quick to file now, and I've cut out the step of shoving everything in my mail slot until I feel like filing, and I no longer have to sort through it again and again when looking for other important stuff in the mail slot.

There's more... but it will have to wait.


Labels: ,

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Stinkin thing lost my post

I didn't have a great title, anyway. OH well. Here goes again.

Last night was a bust. We had a PTA meeting and didn't get home until after 9pm, at which point J. announced that a) he was hungry and b) he still had homework to do. I fixed him something to eat but I was angry about the homework. To my credit, I didn't blow up - but I was pissed off nonetheless. Then he wanted to play a game with me, but I explained that there was no time - he had to finish the HW (which he was frustrated with, and didn't want to do) and then go to bed. Somehow he was still up until 10:30.

I managed, finally, to put two items on ebay - a PUR Water Filter system that I had tried to install but couldn't get quite right, and a Power Rangers radio-controlled Ninja cycle that J. has had for over a year and never opened. (He agreed to let me list it and I agreed to share the $$ with him.) Also managed, during this, to figure out how to download from my new digital camera. That means pics will be coming soon!!

Oh - the good thing - at the PTA meeting, S. received the Student of the Month award for her class and got to go on stage with the other winners. (Not to leave him out, J. got the award for HIS class in December.) I'm so proud!!!!

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Crib Thing

Let me explain that last comment yesterday about the crib.

Our kids are 8 years (J), 5 years (S), and 6 months (B). We have never owned a crib.

When J was born, we had the best intentions. We were living in a one-bedroom apartment, so we didn't have a nursery to furnish. Hubby's grandma had made us a beautiful yellow bassinet and we planned to use that in the beginning, and get a crib a few months down the line.

J slept in the bassinet for a night or two, but he was fussy and would cry. I ended up cuddling with him one night (I believe my excuse was "he's cold,") and he went right to sleep. About two weeks later, I figured out how to nurse him while laying down and dozing off myself, and that was that. He stayed in the bed. We never bothered with the crib because we didn't mind co-sleeping.

When J was 2, we moved to a larger apartment (2 bedrooms) and I got pregnant again soon after. During the pregnancy, we worked on transitioning J from our bed to a toddler bed. Then when he was 2.5 he developed asthma and somehow went back to sleeping in our bed (I wanted to watch him breathe). S was born and we tried the bassinet again, but half-heartedly. Most nights we had both of them in bed with us. When J was 3.5 we got him a big-boy bed and worked on the transition again, since he was ready to start pre-K, was potty trained, and so on. But S stayed with us and the idea of buying a crib went bye-bye again.

So now B came along. The big kids have bunk beds and sleep in them most nights (though little miss S protests a lot). We decided that B would be the one to sleep in the bassinet and even get a crib. Hubby's sister went so far as to buy the crib for us - months ago - and is just waiting for us to give her the ok to have it delivered. B was sleeping in the bassinet most nights - or at least starting out there until the overnight-nursing session. But I go back and forth. I really don't mind having a baby in the bed - it's the toddler and pre-school age when it gets tough. But there is a lot of pressure to have a crib this time around - from hubby as well, as he is tired of sharing. It's just that I'm the one doing the overnight work with the baby, and I'm also the one who has to get up early every day. So why not make it easier on myself?

We don't need no stinkin' crib!

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Middle of Month 1

It's been nearly a week since I posted. (Should I keep posting? Is anyone reading? Who knows. But maybe posting helps keep me honest/on track.)

What's the last week been like? Hmm. Well, I don't know if I'll ever get the hang of routines. I make a lot of plans but they don't become habits. I have, however, been great about writing (obsessively) in my planner. I write every little thing that I need to do, and lots of them are getting done! But my problem is, and always has been, that sometimes I forget to look at my planner. And then things don't get done.

My kitchen -- still kind of bad. But I'm not letting things pile up on chairs, and I'm getting the dishes done (almost) every night. Garbage has been going out, and recycling going out more often too. Don't want to encourage the mousies anymore than we have to, right?

In the kitchen, I took down two large, yellowed plastic box-style picture frames (which contained two large, yellowing Jello ads from the 60s, which I love, but which don't make me happy anymore). In their place, I hung J & S's school photos. That alone made my kitchen look so much nicer upon entry. Um, the framed ads are still on the kitchen floor though. Bad. Are they worth anything? Who knows.

My dining room table -- still has holiday decorations out, and a basket full of crap on top. Still has a missing nut/loose leg. But getting better. I finally hung up B's big photo plaque which was about to get ruined by sitting UNDER the dining room table. Speaking of decorating, I took down about 10 watercolor paintings that were taped up in my entry hall... they were also curling and yellowed. They were painted by S back when all S could paint were blobby things (maybe they were impressionist or abstract masterpieces?) OH! And I taped up the telephone wires that were dangling for the last, um, five years (yes, they were dangling when S was a crawling baby. But she turned out ok).

So, some beautifying did happen, but nothing is beautiful with all this clutter, as I've lamented over and over again.

Did I get rid of anything? Let's see. I called my neighbor to tell her I was bringing back her baby swing that she loaned me for B, and she told me she didn't need it anymore, so I should put it by the trash. So now of course it's back in my hands. Did I put it by the trash? No. Because what if someone needs or wants it? Gotta freecycle it. But it's nice! Should I Craigslist it? But what if she sees it (she loves Craigslist) and thinks I am taking $$ out of her hands? Dilemma!!! Why is it easy for her to say "toss it," but not so easy for me?

What else have I gotten rid of? Not much. The guy never came to pick up those packing peanuts, so I still have those. Gotta email him for one more chance. Sigh. I just don't know what to do anymore.

My living room really needs to be intervened with tonight. Asap. Jake's birthday gifts are all over the place... books have exploded outward from the bookcase onto the floor... you get the idea. FLYLADY would be in "the bathroom and one other room" this week, and the living room next week, but I think I may bump the LR up and work on the kids' room during LR week. I can dream right?

Oh, I did make some headway in my bedroom. Got hubby to throw out a bunch of old sweatshirts. Dismantled the quilt rack (which is a nice idea, but really just causes quilts to collect extra dust) and put the blankets into the now-empty space where the sweatshirts were. Um. Yeah. Not much else. But I figure that if I put away my maternity clothes (ever) and move the DVD rack, the crib will fit along the wall.

The crib is a whole 'nother issue. Maybe later.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

... and losing ground...

What got done yesterday:
  • Baked brownies with the kids, for J's in-class birthday celebration
  • Listed asthma peak-flow meter on Freecycle (actually I think I did this on Monday)

What didn't get done yesterday:
  • 15 minutes of decluttering
  • garbage taken out

I guess baking the brownies was a good thing, time spent with the kids doing something fun. But I can't take the way my house looks anymore. (I say that every day. So why can't I fix it?)

My table leg keeps falling off. It just needs a nut, but I don't know what size. The bolt is attached to the leg so I can't bring it to the store to see (unless I bring the whole leg). I guess I have to take a nut off one of the other legs for comparison. Meanwhile I just yell at the kids every time they lean on the (now very wobbly) table. What I really want is a new (or used, but new to me) dining room set. I want a SMALLER table, so that (a) it doesn't get as junked up with clutter (yeah right), and (b) it fits the space better as we need to move the highchair back in there soon and there's just no room.

Also I need to tape up the electrical wires that are trailing my dining room floor (phone is in the kitchen, outlet is in the dining room) because baby boy is starting to move around!!! He's not yet crawling but he's getting squirmy, and nothing is safe from his jaws...

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Picking up speed

Last night was a hassle. Without getting into details, let me say that we rushed to an appointment, cramming down McD's as we went, and the appointment was canceled. The good news was, we got home earlier than planned. Time to watch American Gladiators with J, and help him put together his Steel Cage Wrestling Ring (birthday gift from Grandma). I also forced myself to work in the kitchen for 15 minutes. I didn't get much done but I started in the front corner where random things tend to pile up.
  • There were a few toys over there that somehow didn't get into the donation pile last week... they will have to go out, and the sooner the better. (Is it wrong that I reclaimed two of them for Baby B?)
  • I found a Peak Flow Meter that the insurance company had sent me for free, for the kids' asthma. We never used it. I listed it on Freecycle instead.
  • Threw away my old drill set that refuses to charge.
  • Put away my other drill that was laying around (power tool + small children, not a good combo).
  • Threw away the excess paperwork from the kids' school candy sale, moved the last few "deliveries" (for Aunt/Cousin) onto hallway shelf ("staging area" for things that need to be returned).
  • Gathered up serving utensils to return to PTA, bagged them and moved to "staging area."
  • Ditto for earrings hubby bought me that broke and need to be returned/exchanged.
  • Opened set of LED bulb stick-on mini-lights and tested them out. Cool, they work! Now I just need to figure out where to put them.

So, not too much but it already looks a little better/brighter.

Still, sometimes I see my apartment as others see it and I just want to crawl into a hole (or a pile of dirty laundry) and hide.

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, January 07, 2008

Weekend Update - First weekend of 2008

It was a sort-of busy weekend, I got a little done but not much.

I did list that big box of packing peanuts on Freecycle. I have someone who may want it. Better than that, when I hauled it out from under my dining room table, I also found a $30 Toys R Us gift card that I didn't know was missing, and my MIL's Chanukah present, which I had forgotten was missing. So that was nice.

Much of Saturday was spent at a party at the home of one of J's classmates. They have an apartment around the corner. It's a 3-bedroom but the 3rd is tiny and off the kitchen; I think they created it rather than it being a true 3-bedroom. I don't know that we will ever find a true 3-bedroom in Briarwood. Not that we've really started looking. Yet. That's a topic for another day, though. In any case, we stayed at the party most of the afternoon, I slapped together some spaghetti, sauce (Tuttarosa) and frozen shrimp for dinner, we made the goodie bags for J's party, and not much else got done.

Sunday was J's 8th birthday party, which was really a lot of fun and only a little stressful. Of course when we got home I realized I didn't have my camcorder on me. The place says no one has turned it in. I am hoping maybe someone took it by mistake and will return it. But what are the odds? I can replace the camera but I can't replace the disk of the party memories. I get so angry about things like this. Angry at myself for being careless but angrier at society. Even so I'm pretty calm, for me. Nothing I can do, right?

Anyway... like I said... not much got done. I've been unable to commit 15 minutes a day to decluttering - or even five minutes. Just being lazy, I know. In Flylady land, the first week of the month is dedicated to the dining room and entryway. Mine are pretty horrible these days. I still have holiday cards and decorations out, hats & gloves all over despite my attempts to corral them, and things are starting to pile up along the wall. Gotta stop this. But since we are starting the second week, it's kitchen time, and I really want to work on that. As I've said, my kitchen is pretty large, or it WOULD be if I could clear out some of the crap.

Other notes...
What didn't get done this weekend that really should have -
  • my laundry (the stuff I wash delicate so hubby doesn't fry it in the dryer)
  • kids sheets & blankets needed washing
  • J's scarf that I promised I'd fix
  • Partial turtle water change (slacking off already)

What got done, surprisingly enough -
  • Dumped a stack of papers roughly 8 inches high, that I didn't even know I had (mystery shopping notes from 2003 & 2004)

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, January 04, 2008

At least it's Friday

No significant decluttering yesterday. Worked all day and then was out all evening on a date with hubby. We ate at the Marriott Marquis (had a gift certificate) and then saw Young Frankenstein on Broadway. Hubby liked it much better than I did - but still, it was a night out. Got home at 11:30, so that was it - I washed & prepped the baby bottles for today, and then went to bed. I did, however, give our babysitter 3 fancy dresses that I will never wear again. I love these dresses, but they didn't fit my post-baby curves even when I was at my lowest weight, and "the girls" just can't wear spaghetti straps anymore. Hopefully they will bring M. some happiness.

Tonight is Friday, so hopefully I can get some decluttering accomplished over the weekend.

About to Freecycle a large, almost-full box of styrofoam packing peanuts from under my dining room table...

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Dids and Didn'ts

Yesterday/Last Night:

  • Succeed in getting QCP to pick up several large bags & boxes of toys and clothing, after months of being stored randomly around the apartment
  • Partial replacement of turtles' water (should be done 1-2 times a week, gets done rarely if ever, usually resulting in nasty green water after 2 weeks. Changing all the water is a big pain, so we procrastinate, water gets nastier, turtles get unhappy, big hassle ensues)
  • Played games & read with kids
  • Crockpot dinner, washed dishes

  • Didn't:
  • Declutter at all

  • Today:

    Need to:
  • Go to the bank, make deposits
  • Pay bills & parking tickets

  • Going out on a date with hubby tonight (dinner & "Young Frankenstein" on Broadway) which is good for us, but means nothing will get done at home (ie, no decluttering). Kids are home sick from school, but not sick enough for us to have to miss the evening out (so far, knock wood).

    Wednesday, January 02, 2008

    Deja Vu All Over Again

    Well here we are. January 2, 2008. And the last time I posted was pretty much exactly one year ago. All bright-eyed and bushy-tailed about how I was going to get rid of my clutter and get things in order by the time I had a baby in July.

    Well, I'm proud to say, I had a baby boy in July. But as you may have guessed, I never got rid of the clutter. I now have more clutter than ever. My living room is still unlivable. My bedroom is a disaster area. The kids room is a war zone. My roomy kitchen is still not roomy. My dining room table remains mostly buried, and we eat around the piles of papers and mail. The only uncluttered room remains my bathroom, which is really just too small to hold any clutter.

    But I'm blogging again so I must be ready to commit, right?? (Riiiiight.)

    Yesterday was January 1. A new year. And despite superstitions (not my own) about not taking anything out of the house on New Years Day, I got rid of lots of garbage. Hubby brought down the recycling (which gets out of control for some reason). I actually CLEANED my kitchen. I mean, the kitchen is generally clean due to daily maintainence, but this was more of a pro-active cleaning. Good thing, too, as it turns out the kitchen was not as clean as I thought... when I moved the microwave, I found a chewed up skittle, an open lollipop... and several (OK, more than several) mouse poopies... confirming my suspicions of the last few weeks. Wonderful. I don't get freaked out about mice (this is, after all, NYC) but it just isn't a nice thought. I tupperwared some foods that seemed intact but appealing, tossed a few expired packages out of my cabinets, and stuffed all the breakfast cereals in my fridge. (Now at least my fridge looks full.) I also mopped the floor and then put out some cottonballs dotted with peppermint oil, which I hear foils them. A few weeks ago, the exterminator had given me glue traps, but they freak me out more than the thought of having mice at all - so I didn't use them... but I guess I may have to bust them out if these measures don't work.

    Anyway, enough about critters... we were talking about my clutter issues.

    A few weeks ago I had finally gotten around to calling QCP about making a pickup... they are supposed to come today, so this morning I dragged my donations down to the building lobby (about 6 big bags, plus a big box, of donated toys and clothes). This stuff has been sitting in my apartment for MONTHS or longer. (OK, longer.) I only hope that QCP shows up before my super decides to toss it all (I don't think we're supposed to leave stuff in the lobby like that - but I don't know what time they are coming and I don't want hubby to miss them).

    I have a weekly plan, I have morning routines, I have hope. Mostly I hope it isn't another year before I post again.