Monthly Archives: March 2014

Laundry Room

I don’t have a laundry room, but a corner of the garage dedicated to my favorite household chore. Is it strange to enjoy doing laundry? Perhaps. I hear of lots of other people complaining about it. I would rather think of it as a unique qualification for mothering this adorable creature:

Eating Dirt

Yes, she is eating dirt.

Anyway, I digress. Of all the areas cleaned up and minimized during my journey, this one has been the easiest. I think I spent 20 minutes on it.


Laundry Room Before

See the soap canister on the floor to the left?

Laundry Shelf Before

Since Rie was born the liquid fabric softener and stain remover have not been used.

I set aside a couple items to take to friends who may use them, wiped off the shelf in the cabinet and the surface of the machines, and picked frequently used items up off the floor.


Laundry Room After

All clean! Just going to wash the area rugs and lay them in front.

Laundry Shelf After

There’s a place for my soap canister on the shelf!

Thanks for reading!


The Garage

All week long the weather forecasts had been teasing us poor midwesterners with promises of a beautiful Saturday. I spent Friday evening dreaming of sunny skies and maybe a trip to a local winery.

Saturday morning came and the scent of coffee woke me ever so gently. Soft noises coming from the kitchen confirmed my suspicions: D woke early with Rie and they were downstairs enjoying an eventful breakfast. Sunshine poked through the blinds in the bedroom. This was going to be a good day.

D brought Rie upstairs to dress and peaked into our room. Seeing I was awake he enthusiastically called out, “Wanna clean out the garage today?”

The sky darkened and the birds stopped chirping as abruptly as my heart dropped. Do I want to clean out the garage? We just victoriously saw the end of winter this morning (don’t worry Team Winter – you’ll be back on Sunday) and now we’re going to waste our beautiful sunshiney day on the garage?!

On the other hand, it is not every day you can throw open both garage doors, let the toddler toddle outside, and have a willing partner in doing the dirty…jobs, that is. Fiiiine. I’ll clean out the garage. But not before a cup of coffee.

I was still sipping coffee when we started this job, or I would have thought to take a before picture for Just Kate. Use your imagination here. It was bad. We spent five hours (including a break for lunch and time to chat with neighbors) pulling stuff out of the garage and rearranging the stuff we wanted to keep. Five hours. Rie napped for two of them, so you know we managed to get some good elbow grease.

We filled the recycling bin past full. The cardboard, from various packages or boxes emptied during the purge, that would not fit in our recycling bin spilled over to the bed of D’s truck. Fortunately, he has a recycling drop-off at his work. The garbage can is also past full. That bit of carpeting D was saving for, well, I don’t know what, plus his old Boy Scouts backpack, a leaky cooler…you know, the stuff you keep for years on end, finally found the way out.

Finally, there was the pile of stuff that was perfectly usable and in great shape. Two items were held back to be sold. The rest of it filled the trunk of my car and part of the backseat. For a while there I considered having a garage sale, but I decided I was not about to sacrifice any more beautiful Saturdays to the Stuff God. OK, realistically speaking, there will likely be another Saturday sacrificed to the Stuff God at some point in time, but not in the foreseeable future. The stuff loaded in my car found its way to a Catholic Charities thrift shop.

When it was all said and done, and I had posted my ad of the stuff for sale, I was really happy with the results. The garage looks great. Everything left in it is stuff we use. We can see everything in there. It is kind of strange, but in a good way.

This afternoon Rie and I went for a walk and we were able to start and end in the garage. This is the first time since she was born we have been able to walk through the west side of the garage (I park on the east side). It was so much nicer than doing the stroller-grab-and-shuffle-through-to-the-front-of-the-house dance. I could certainly get used to this.

Paper Clutter

Do a search for “paper clutter” in your browser and you will find scores upon scores of savvy advice from pretty much every magazine and organization blog in the nation. Don’t worry, I’m not going to over-simplify this for you and make you feel inept for having paper clutter. In my opinion, paper clutter happens. You just need to find a way to deal with it.

The thing is we have paper clutter entering our homes Junk mail, coupons, receipts, and so on. Everybody in your home generates paper clutter. Rie has been the target of marketing campaigns (formula companies and photography packages, for example) since before she was born. Maile is not exempt just because she walks on four legs. The vet’s office, pet pharmacy, and pet supply shop all send information to her attention.

I recently confessed to keeping a wire paper holder thingy on my kitchen counter. It is no longer there. Lately I have done a much better job of sorting mail into its rightful home as it comes in. Birthday party invitation? Put a note on the calendar and recycle the invite. Coupon? Is it something we were going to buy now anyway (probably not)? If yes, put it in the wallet, otherwise, recycle it. Is this piece of paper important? File it. Now. There is no other place to put it except in the file box.

Unfortunately, that last bit of logic was really catching up with me. I had been placing items in my file box willy-nilly. Today I finally went through it and purged several years’ worth of stuff that is no longer important. This job had been weighing heavily on me. In my imagination, I could see myself stuck going through papers for days and days without end. To my surprise, it was about a ten minute job. Everything was kept in file folders, so I could see by the name on the folder if the papers within would be worth keeping or not.

Excess Paperwork

Clutter be gone!

The next big task will be to scan important papers in order to store them digitally, rather than physically. Like sorting through papers, this task seems daunting. Furthermore, loose photos are running amok and they need to be corralled. I’m honestly not even sure how to go about doing all of this. For now I’ll take my victory over old bank statements and call it good.

Results of Unplugging

Hello again.

This past weekend, starting on Friday, I unplugged. It was fantastic.

On Saturday morning Rie and I hosted a playdate for several friends, 10 friends altogether. It was kind of nuts. Anyway, before folks arrived I cleaned my home from top to bottom in about an hour (that includes time for Rie to play the “how well can Mommy mop with 24 pounds of cuteness attached to her shins?” game). I love how easy/fast it is to clean now.

Saturday evening Rie went to her grandparents’ house for a sleepover while D and I attended a wedding reception. Great times had by all!

On Sunday morning I had the house to myself, as D had gone to work. I finished a book and drank some coffee. No one urgently needed me. No one on social media annoyed me with their politically slanted posts. Nothing could touch me in my happy little bubble.

Sunday evening the unplugging joy continued. I put together Rie’s car. (Her grandmother had given it to her for Christmas, otherwise she would not have one.) We had a lovely time playing with the car outside. Rie managed to cover herself with mud. Seeing a kid playing outside, covered in mud, and having the time of her life is about the best way to pass a Sunday afternoon.

A blissfully happy weekend of unplugging begs the question, “Why do we not do this more often?” Furthermore, what is it about our technology that makes us feel it is a necessity?

National Day of Unplugging

Thank you, Minimalist Mom, for your post today about the National Day of Unpluggig (original blog post here).

From sunset on Friday, March 7th until sunset on Saturday, March 8th, participants are turning off their computers, logging out of social media, and finding something to do other than watch TV.

I am excited to participate and hope some of my local friends will too. I could use the company! The trick is to have an idea of what to do when that space normally occupied by technology becomes vacant. I’m lucky because I have a small kiddo at home (already 14 months!), so I know what I will be doing during her waking hours: playing with Rie, taking her for a walk, participating in a playdate, perhaps some chores.

But what about during naptime and after she goes to bed Friday night? Maybe us grown-ups will play cards, chat with long-distance loved ones on the phone…maybe just sit and enjoy a cup of tea while performing some top-notch porch setting.

Feel free to leave your brainstorm of ideas in the comments. What the heck did we all do before technology became so accessible?