Junk Closet

DSCF6106Am I the only crazy mom who has a junk closet? A closet so full of games, puzzles, crayons, stickers and other junk that if you want to put anything away you have to shove it in and hurry and slam the door before it all tumbles back out at you?

Please tell me I am not alone in this.

The closet in my hallway is my junk closet. It is crammed full of fun activities that I can’t even get to. Fun stuff that I can’t even find.

Until now.

I couldn’t take it any longer.

I took several games to play at a family overnighter. When I got back and opened my game closet I didn’t even want to put them back. There was no room.

I was depressed at my own filthiness.

Am I the only mother who gets behind on her organization? Am I the only one who gets tired and occasionally just shoves stuff away instead of putting it in the right spot?

I let our games sit in the corner of my living room until I got up the courage to sort my way through the crap in the closet. And when I finally did it took all day.

I started by getting everything out.

Here’s what my living room floor looked like at that point:

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Then I sorted through the different types of things. I put games in one pile, puzzles in another etc.

Then I got to the random, miscellaneous items that I didn’t know what to do with. I am embarrassed to say that I had 12 bottles of bubbles stowed carefully away in my closet. Twelve!

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I’m sure I had that many because if I glanced quickly at the closet I couldn’t see any bubble bottles. That’s because they were hiding behind other useless things. It would take us 5 years to go through all of those bubbles.

And don’t even get me started on the crayon boxes. I think we had enough 24-piece crayon boxes in there to send one with my boys to elementary school each and every fall. And my boys don’t even like to color.

There were games in there that we have never played. I put those in a different pile – a donation pile.

I know there was stuff in there that I haven’t seen or used in years.

You should have seen my 18-month-old. He was in heaven during the big sort. Mom was the one making the giant mess this time. He got to look at and play with everything and he didn’t even get in trouble.

After sorting everything I started to put it back, but I did it differently this time. Instead of stacking my games I stood them on their side. That way if we want to play on we don’t have to get out six or seven at a time.

Why didn’t I set it up like that 8 years ago when we moved here? Maybe now we can play Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders again.

I took an ice cream bucket and filled it with crayons. Then I went through every single one of our markers and tested them. About half of them went in the garbage. The other half went in another ice cream bucket.

I did the same for the pens and colored pencils. Now each and every one of our writing utensils actually works.

I sorted all of our small games that didn’t have boxes into their own Ziploc bags. Then I put them in a basket with our card games. Now they aren’t shoved away in the corners catching dust.

The end result turned out great. I feel like I did it. And if I can do it, anyone can.

It probably won’t last. The junk will creep back in and my laziness will overcome the organization, but for now it feels good. And it looks good.

And we can finally have fun with our games again.

The Purge

I have big plans for my house. Big plans that I don’t always have enough energy for. But regardless of my energy level these days, I am determined to enact one of my biggest plans so far. I am going to affectionately call it “The Purge.”

I am going to go through every inch of my modest home and remove everything that we don’t use or need. I am going to purge our junk pile.

I started last week with my kitchen. I have dreamed of a bigger kitchen with more cabinet and countertop space for years. But that doesn’t mean it’s ever going to happen. So, rather than keep dreaming I went to task.

I put together a giant box of old pans, cups, Tupperware and small appliances that I have not used in the past 7 years. Why on earth I was keeping some of that stuff is beyond me.

I packed it into the back of my van and drove it to the nearest Deseret Industries before I had a chance to change my mind on items like my worn out skillet that no longer has a temperature gauge.

Now when I open the door to grab a cup for my kids, I don’t have mismatched plastics falling out on my head. The insides of my cupboards look good.

But the kitchen is just the beginning. I plan to purge every room in my house.

My husband thinks I am already nesting, but I know it’s more than that. I actually got the purging idea from my friend Amanda who completely overhauled her house last summer. She got rid of nearly everything that wasn’t a necessity.

That totally inspired me.

They talk a lot in my religion about living within your means. For the longest time I thought that meant, “Don’t buy anything you can’t pay for.” But I’m starting to realize that it’s not just about money.

I visited Amanda after her purge and she heI have big plans for my house. Big plans that I don’t always have enough energy for. But regardless of my energy level these days, I am determined to enact one of my biggest plans so far. I am going to affectionately call it “The Purge.”

I am going to go through every inch of my modest home and remove everything that we don’t use or need. I am going to purge our junk pile.

I started last week with my kitchen. I have dreamed of a bigger kitchen with more cabinet and countertop space for years. But that doesn’t mean it’s ever going to happen. So, rather than keep dreaming I went to task.

I put together a giant box of old pans, cups, Tupperware and small appliances that I have not used in the past 7 years. Why on earth I was keeping some of that stuff is beyond me.

I packed it into the back of my van and drove it to the nearest Deseret Industries before I had a chance to change my mind on items like my worn out skillet that no longer has a temperature gauge.

Now when I open the door to grab a cup for my kids, I don’t have mismatched plastics falling out on my head. The insides of my cupboards look good.

But the kitchen is just the beginning. I plan to purge every room in my house.

My husband thinks I am already nesting, but I know it’s more than that. I actually got the purging idea from my friend Amanda who completely overhauled her house last summer. She got rid of nearly everything that wasn’t a necessity.

That totally inspired me.

They talk a lot in my religion about living within your means. For the longest time I thought that meant, “Don’t buy anything you can’t pay for.” But I’m starting to realize that it’s not just about money.

I visited Amanda after her purge and she helped me to see that rather than always dreaming of a bigger house, nicer things, and more of everything, I need to be satisfied with what I have now.

That’s what’s behind the purge. No longer am I going to hold onto unnecessary items because someday I may have room or need for them. I am not going to live in a dream world where I keep everything I get because someday I may have time to use it or have a bigger home to put it in.

My husband and I have talked about moving in a few years, but what if we don’t? I love my house now, why not make it the best I can and be happy with what I have?

It probably sounds easier than it really is going to be, and I am going to have to conquer my inner pack-rat tendencies to get this done, but little by little I am going to purge my life and my attitude.

I’m starting on the laundry room next.

What have you purged from your life lately? What do you do to minimize all the “stuff” in your house?
lped me to see that rather than always dreaming of a bigger house, nicer things, and more of everything, I need to be satisfied with what I have now.

That’s what’s behind the purge. No longer am I going to hold onto unnecessary items because someday I may have room or need for them. I am not going to live in a dream world where I keep everything I get because someday I may have time to use it or have a bigger home to put it in.

My husband and I have talked about moving in a few years, but what if we don’t? I love my house now, why not make it the best I can and be happy with what I have?

It probably sounds easier than it really is going to be, and I am going to have to conquer my inner pack-rat tendencies to get this done, but little by little I am going to purge my life and my attitude.

I’m starting on the laundry room next.

What have you purged from your life lately? What do you do to minimize all the “stuff” in your house?

Wash That Car

If any of you ever get the urge to take your kids with to help you at the self-service car wash, call me. I’ll talk some sense into you.  

A couple of weeks ago my van was filthy after I took it camping. I thought it would be fun to take the boys with to help me wash it off and vacuum it out. Boy was I wrong.

First of all, we prepped the van for vacuuming. I knew we wouldn’t have a lot of time on the vacuum limit so we took the car seats, blankets and all of the extra stuff out of the van and sat them on the ground. Then my boys each grabbed a section of the thick hose and braced themselves for the roar of the vacuum as they stood near the passenger side sliding door. I put a dollar’s worth of quarters in the vacuum and watched the machine flash 4:00.

Four minutes?! That’s all the time they give me to cover my entire van?  I knew time was going to be short, but I thought it would be a little longer than that.  I was feeling stressed before it all began.

Four minutes is barely enough time for me to skim the interior myself while racing from side to side. Trying to make it under four minutes with tiny arms stretching the cord as far as they physically can in an effort to “help” was going to be nearly impossible.

I was torn. I wanted to let them help, but I knew we weren’t going to make it. I tried to shout out orders to them over the roar of the machine as all three of us held the hose and brushed it across the carpet, but it was no use. We ended up popping two extra quarters into the machine after we ran out of time twice.

At that point I was sweating.

I glanced up at the pricing sign for the automatic garage-style car wash and decided that I didn’t want to pay that much. So we pulled into the nearest empty bay and hopped out. I should have known we were in trouble the minute I saw my oldest grab the hose/wand and raise it to his shoulder as if it were a giant squirt gun.

Because to a 5-year-old that’s exactly what it is. He doesn’t care about my van’s muddy exterior. All he wants to do is pull the trigger.

But at this point I still thought it might be “fun” to have his help.

I should have realized there was no way my scrawny arms had a chance in scraping off all of the hundreds of bugs that peppered the hood.

Not to mention I thoroughly pre-washed my left foot.

It took over 12 minutes to work through three wash cycles. I spent $7.25 to spray me, my boys and my van when it would have cost me only $5.50 to have the automatic machine do it for me.

Why didn’t I fork out that money?

Once again I find myself at a crossroads. Do I do things by myself in order to get them done quickly and right? Or do I continue to allow them to help?

I know I need to teach them work ethic, but next time my van is caked with mud and bugs I’ll wait until my husband can stay home with the boys and I’ll wash it alone.

What chores do your kids help you with? How do you keep calm while they help?

My Vacuum Sucks

I refuse to buy a $3,000 vacuum. So I am forced to use a cheap Wal-Mart wannabe that literally sucks. I have had the worst luck with vacuums.

I started my marriage with a great Hoover my husband and I bought with some money from our wedding. It wasn’t the fancy, new bagless type, but it really sucked.

Unfortunately, it was shocked to death during a series of freak power surges in the fall of 2008. A faulty power line coming into our house was making our power surge and our lights strobe. Our washer and dryer also lost their lives during that ridiculous three-month fiasco.

I went cheap after that, buying a small machine for less than $20 at a day-after-Thanksgiving sale. As you can imagine, that didn’t last long.

This year at Black Friday I was too focused on Barbies and movies to snatch up the vacuum I wanted. Instead I found a small hand vac with a long handle extension stuffed in an aisle display while waiting in an extremely long checkout line. It was cheap but definitely not practical. It works great dust busting my kitchen floor but it doesn’t do my shaggy carpet justice.

So, a couple of months ago I invested a little less than $40 on a red Dirt Devil from Wal-Mart. After vacuuming my tiny living room and even tinier hallway, the stupid thing overheated. I didn’t know if it was because there was so much left over lint that the little hand vac couldn’t handle hiding in my shag, or if my new vacuum was going to overheat with every use.

I kept it and a week later it overheated again. I was too lazy to find my receipt, clean it out and take it back to the store. So now I do what I call “race vacuuming.” I prep my rooms — making sure I’m not going to accidentally suck up a toy gun or lizard or something — plug the vacuum in, and run. More often than not, I can vacuum my small upstairs before it overheats. If it does overheat before I’m done, I unplug it, wait 30 minutes then start vacuum racing again.

I don’t know how long I’m going to put up with this temperamental machine.

I had an amateur vacuum saleswoman spend two hours one night trying to sell me a $3,000 vacuum. Do I seriously have to spend that much to get a decent machine? I absolutely refuse to spend more on a vacuum than I did on one of my vehicles. You’d think for $3,000 it would do much more than just vacuum. Gosh for that much it better be able to prepare and cook my dinner too.

Maybe I’ll have to invest more than $40 on a decent sucking machine, but I’m not going near the $3,000 mark. For now, because I am cheap, I’ll stick with the race vacuuming. At least I’m getting a workout while cleaning.

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