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Category Archives: decluttering

Toilet redux

Warning. Disgusting story ahead.

Many of you know the story of our camping toiletIt has spent the last four years on the porch of the kids’ cubby house (“the only cubby with an outdoor loo”), waiting to find a new home, and occasionally holding cash for tradies (“the money is in the dunny”).
Last night, a friend of a friend posted on Facebook that she was looking to buy or borrow a camping toilet for this weekend. The perfect moment! We arranged for her to collect it this morning.

Waking this morning, somewhat queasy from overnight painkillers (I’m recovering from Round 2 of kidney stone surgery), I thought that I would do the right thing and move it to the front of the house.
Friends, I picked up that camping toilet, and it SLOSHED.
I checked the “flushing” tank. Empty.
You know what that means.
Yep, somebody – at some point in the last four years, but probably more than once – has USED the camping toilet in our back yard, on the porch of the kids’ cubby house.

I have cleaned and cleaned and cleaned, and then disinfected some more. And then showered, and resisted the temptation to scrub myself with BLEACH.

And the toilet is gone. I’m chalking it up as a decluttering win.

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Thematic?

Every so often, I start to think that the Internet is a normal place, filled with normal people who do really sensible things.

And parts of it probably are.

But then I stray somewhere and cannot get the weird things I find out of my head.

No, not THOSE weird things.

Things like “What is the theme of your bedroom?” which was posed as a serious question (I guess I deserved it, looking at Home Decor as a category on Pinterest). Unfortunately, there were no Cliff’s Notes to go with it or to suggest what might be considered an appropriate answer.

I know that, when decorating for children, some people go with a theme. That’s really rather sweet. Had I been more organised, I might even have had a crack at it. But for adults, it feels like it’s maybe a bit weird. GAMES have themes. Not bedrooms.

Don’t get me wrong. The Indiana Jones Lego bedroom we stayed in at Legoland was awesome. I just can’t see myself deciding to replicate it chez moi.

Tomb Room

Quite apart from anything else, I can’t face the thought of having to dust the monkey every day.

Lego monkey

So what would be a “normal” bedroom theme? Because my mind goes to Bordello and, well, it stays there, weeping.

Anyway, I’ve resolved it for now. The theme of my bedroom is “Tired. In every sense of the word.” The Bigster’s is “There is no such thing as too many books” and Otto’s is “Wow, mummy REALLY likes pink.”

That solved, I think I’ll go find a normal corner of the Internet now. Where they talk about action points vs set collecting as a mechanic, and whether linen finish cards are REALLY better than the other kinds. And whether Renaissance Italy and Ancient Egypt are overdone as themes.

 

My new obsession

I have a new obsession.

It’s Nony’s blog at A Slob Comes Clean.

It’s like reading my own posts by an alternate-universe-Melissa. Nony and I just might be soulmates. But mostly I love her because she posts before pictures that are at least as bad as my own. I find her motivating as much because she fails as because she succeeds.

Like her, I struggle with clutter. If “struggle” means “constantly lose the battle”. Like her, I have tried lots of different methods, but they never work because there is a weak link: me. There are many things that are more fun than cleaning the toilet. And I am (just a tad) easily distractable.

I have always believed, quite genuinely and sincerely, that my house would be less of a tip if I wasn’t always working so hard and such crazy hours. Not perfect, mind you, but “less of a tip”. It gets noticeably worse when I work more, so it stands to reason that it should get better when I work less. And so, the house is one of the things I was going to work on after I quit my job in June (the 18th, if you were wondering). But then I kept working pretty much full time until September, and then there were STILL projects to finish and I was still studying until the Middle of November and the builders were here and they and their cement dust pretty much became the Best Excuse Ever for not tidying.

Except that they have finished now. I don’t have any excuses left. It’s January, the kids are on holidays, we don’t have many places to be, and I don’t officially start my PhD until March. And the house is still a tip. And my cleaner is overseas until the end of the month and I don’t think we can afford for her to come weekly any more.

And the problem with Every Single Thing I have *EVER* read about getting your clutter sorted out is that it’s all one person’s responsibility and sharing the load never seems to even figure. Which means I need to toughen up a bit and Just Do It.

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2014 in decluttering

 

Packing time again

With school holidays looming, we’re headed off once more. The cat-sitter (and house-sitter) is booked, the rooms have been paid for. All that is left is to finish work, clean the car and pack. Oh, and write a 1500 word essay.

I have blogged before about trying to pack for game conventions. It’s fair to say, though, that that is the easiest of these tasks. Because when it comes down to it, we throw lots of clothes into a bag and then put games into the car until no more fit. And then trade them out until we have a decent set.

But to do that requires us to pack the car. And the car is still full of stuff I bought at IKEA a couple of months back, when I was going to clean out the Bigster’s bedroom. I got 60% of the work done, then stopped, and now it is around 20% more messy than it was, with 100% more floorspace covered. And I don’t want to move the new stuff in while the floor is still kinda incognito. So that’s a challenge, especially as the Bigster’s response to anyone going into her room while she is there is to go kind of Chuck Norris on them … and she’s there pretty close to 24/7 at the moment.

No-one cleans Chuck Norris's room

Courtesy memegenerator.com

And before that can be done, there are several days’ worth of work to do (because going away just brings all of that week’s deadlines forward by a week) as well as a 1500 word essay on internet censorship to be written.

And I don’t think the meme generator can do either of those things for me, more’s the pity.

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2012 in decluttering, games, study, to-do, travel

 

School holidays aka The Curse of the Working Parent

Hard to believe it’s nearly school holiday time again.

It’s unfair, really, to call them a curse – I enjoy school holidays, and I remember enjoying them a whole lot more when I was the one who got a break from school. But it does mean a lot of juggling at times.

Once we’ve allowed for drama classes and Otto’s bonus holidays, we end up with a single week of nothing, which isn’t all that much when you factor in a couple of outings with or without friends. I’m hoping that will help the Bigster get her health back in order. Was a little unsure about the classes, but she is so keen to do them that I think they’ll do her good. We might go away for the week of nothing, or we might just unplug the phone and stay home. Either is good (although one is more Financially Responsible, sigh).

But the best part – the very BEST part of all – is that somewhere in the middle of all that, Fraser is going to take the girls away somewhere for a couple of days. And leave me at home.

And it is ridiculous, completely and utterly, but I am so excited.

Because I am going to DO SERIOUS HOUSEWORK. And Rearrange the Kitchen Cupboards. And buy – and implement – new Storage Stuff. I even have a guy coming on Friday to wash the rubbish bins.

And if I get really excited, I might even Get A Skip.

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2012 in decluttering, family, school

 

Extension progress? Not much.

The title really says it all. Fraser is still enjoying his “long precontemplative stage”.

Meanwhile, I am trying to clear barriers, so that we will be ready to go when he emerges. Three big steps forward this week.

I went up to our local council on Friday, having paid $65 for them to retrieve a copy of the plans of our house. “Oh, congratulations!” said the guy at the building counter. “It’s exactly 15 years since these plans were approved!”

I frowned. Thought. Counted on my fingers, to be sure.

We bought the house on 13 June 1996. Renovated.

We had visited the house several times, over several weeks.

It was renovated then, too.

And the plaster panels in the walls were dated March 1996.

I decided it was best not to think about it any more.

Then I had a long chat to the building counter guy, which was mostly about him trying to say things without saying them. Which I am not very good at understanding. Essentially, we have to have a car space at the back of the house, even if we don’t use it. Which is bad news. The good news is that putting a big double gate on the back fence would count as off-street parking even if the only parking was on the back lawn. But that’s not really the greatest idea ever.

His other advice was to get EVERYTHING specified, even before we talk to builders. Which makes our probable upcoming meeting with an architect a good starting point. It also means that I can really work on the “fun” stuff during Winter – choosing tiles, floors, paint colours, sinks, etc – really working up that spec. I explained to Fraser that I am happy to do it, but that after I do that work it would be VERY bad not to go ahead with it. I tried to be stern.

As for timing, we have 19 months. Building Counter Guy says that’s do-able. Much more do-able than the many people who turn up when they find out that (a) they are pregnant and (b) they have nowhere for the baby to go. In his words: “In a race between a baby and a house, the baby always wins.” It is, however, not entirely generous.

Meanwhile, I’ve seen our accountant to get my tax on the way to done. A little homework and by the time you are reading this he will be working his magic. As a Self-Employed Person, I need lots of tax returns to show that I am Responsible and Income-Earning when we go to the bank to ask them for a (really very modest) sum of money to pay for these renovations. I slightly suspect that my LATE tax returns only demonstrate 50% of these properties. But I brought my accounts up to date and in the process (I have already admitted this to Fraser and he was justifiably scathing) discovered a bank account that I’d squirrelled some money away into and then forgotten about. Mortifying. But also, fabulous. I can deal with that.

On Sunday, I decluttered the Cupboard Under The Sink and discovered scary amounts of duplicates and of things I don’t want and a Lifetime Supply of Oven Cleaner. More than that, really, because there were 4 cans of the stuff and when we renovate we will get a pyrolitic oven that doesn’t need it. If anyone in the local area needs a can of rather old oven cleaner, please let me know. You even have a choice of brands! And then I cleaned out the plasticware cupboard and sorted all the lunch containers so Fraser can’t complain that we have no lids.

And I enrolled Otto at the IKEA childcare place. Because I foresee quite a few visits there in the next few months. And she loves going there to play.

Next steps:

  • Meet with architect for preliminary designs (we have an agreed trigger point for this).
  • Work up specs (Isn’t that what Pinterest is for?).
  • Pay taxes (ugh).
  • Swedish meatballs.
 
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Posted by on June 5, 2012 in children, decluttering, extension, tax

 

Decluttering many things. A bit. Also, rambling. And some shopping.

With the amount of work I have done in the last 12 months, I’ve not had a lot of time to myself. Too many long days and late nights have not only sent my stress levels soaring, they’ve also seen our (always cluttered and messy) house really deteriorate.

Last Friday, I made a stand. But instead of cleaning THEIR rooms, I cleaned mine. I dragged things out of cupboards, put shoes back on shelves, made room for some of Fraser’s shirts in the cupboard (first time in years). There’s more to do, and the funky layout of our bedroom coughTooMuchFurniturecough doesn’t help, but it’s better than it was. And one more Friday should get it to where I want it to be.

My side of the room, that is. While I feel strongly that we should share the blame responsibility for the rest of the house, there is a clear demarcation line in the bedroom.

I have a history of trying to declutter. A few years ago, I hired a Professional Organiser to help me and I learned some stuff about how to throw things out. And then she spent a session working with Fraser and I really think it is a miracle that they didn’t come to blows. But that was expensive and really I need to be able to do this stuff myself.

The best attempt I ever made at decluttering was when we refurbished the study. By which I mean, got rid of the old crappy bookshelves and moved things around to make room for my desk and Fraser’s poker machine. And an armchair. The good part was that we paid a couple of students to come over and just pack everything in the room into boxes. No matter what it was. The boxes all went into the Bigster’s room, we cleaned the carpet and put in the new shelves, then we started unpacking. And we threw out (or gave away) roughly a third of what had been in the old study. It was time-consuming, but everything had a place. And when we renovate, I am going to do the same thing. And then give myself a month off to unpack everything!

Anyway. After last week’s bedroom decluttering, yesterday, on that day off where we ended up going ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE (and enjoying it), I sorted some of my tax stuff, opened some mail that had been frightening me (our accountant is lovely, but show me anything related to tax and I am completely paralysed), updated some of my accounts and logged some expenses and OMG MADE AN APPOINTMENT TO DO MY TAX. Which is just a huge thing because see my note about paralysis? I really mean it. Tax and dentists. And heights. Not things I can think about without serious, terrifying terror.

And then Fraser and I sat down and had a conversation about money. Which I think is hugely productive and helpful because we have such different attitudes to money – he is much more cautious and anxious than I am. And he wants me to tell him EVERY SINGLE TIME I use our joint credit card which drives me batty because it is like he is CHECKING UP ON ME and WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS MY DAD OR SOMETHING and it all goes downhill from there. And I don’t reply to his emails about it because to me they are a low priority and then he gets more annoyed because I am being IRRESPONSIBLE and I get annoyed because he is being UNTRUSTING and – yeah. Downhill. On wheels. So instead, I suggested that we sit down every two weeks to talk about Money Stuff and he can go through the VISA card statement then if he wants to. It’s how we found out that Otto had somehow signed up for Club Penguin. She doesn’t quite understand that the bit about “ask your parents” isn’t just for children who can’t read yet. And that was a useful session and I think quite productive. And next week we will talk about Family Stuff. I have even scheduled time in our calendars for this.

ANYWAY. I did more Accounts Stuff today to try to get ready for our accountant meeting next week. And then I cleaned under my desk AGAIN which was annoying because (a) there was lots of stuff that Fraser & the kids had kicked through from under his desk AGAIN and (b) there was some of my stuff that was hiding under my desk which probably means that Otto had got it down there to play with and (c) I discovered (EWWWW) that I was not in fact Incorrect and Imagining Things in thinking that the cats had been wizzing somewhere in the Study and it is in fact just under where our desks meet (but on Fraser’s side – ha!) and then I had to clean up catwizz and carpet and it really was more than just a little bit disgusting.

And now I have cleared my desk (well mostly). Suffice it to say, my next trip to IKEA involves much-needed cable trunking.

So that was my two big (OK medium-sized) decluttering efforts in the last week or so. Three, if I count the accounts and invoicing and stuff – which is definitely mental clutter.

And now I want to make Sweeping Grand Plans like “I will declutter the whole house, watch me, I can do this” – but common sense and the voice of experience suggest that this plan is Doomed. So instead I have a short-term goal: This week, I am going to do a little bit of decluttering Every Single Day. That feels like enough of a challenge for now.

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2012 in decluttering, grand plans, shopping, tax