Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Dude I am not ready for any of the endings coming my way. So not ready. And yet, the end is coming very soon.

The end of school is coming rapidly. After 3.5 years of pharmacy school, I am hopping up and down ready to be done already and be on rotations and work but not get paid until there is a job and then I will get PAID to work. SO EXCITING! In the same breath, this is utterly terrifying. I mean whoa. I know nothing and I'm going to be the one checking prescriptions and helping patients get better and whoa. I need another few years of school to feel confident I know enough. And yet, here I am at the end just about and ready to be done soon.

I still have 3 rotations in the air but I have decided not to be overly concerned yet. It's January. It will work out. That's about 30% a lie and it wakes me up from my pharmacy-related dreams to gnaw at me about one morning a week but it will work out. It will.

And the baby who is barely a baby anymore is taking steps and actively attempting to figure out how to stand up on her own (the only part of walking she doesn't have down already, picking herself up in an open space and consistently letting go of the thing she's holding to go walk herself) and soon it will be time for me to go. My first two rotations are out of town enough that I will be gone during the week and home weekends. That means for sure we have a weaning deadline. I think she'd be happy to nurse a lot longer than that but I am not going to attempt to pump for 10 weeks a minimum of 4 times a day so she can nurse on the weekends. My time is more valuable than giving up two+ hours a day for 10 weeks (not to mention being miserable) so we will be done.

Once she'd been back to daycare for 2 weeks, I decided to be done pumping. I pumped once a day during the first week while she is gone for about 3 feedings and I can tell my supply is dwindling some but it's kind of nice too. No more gagging (well, much less gagging if I'm honest), more cuddle time nursing longer, less or no leaking at night, not all bad. I have a conference to be at for 2.5 days coming up so I will pump for that and then pack up the pump.

And that brings us to the old "and do I keep it?" question. Do I keep the pump that has served me through both girls' babyhoods on the chance there might be a third or do I retire the thing to the dump or the parts graveyard or to scientific exploration by the 5 year old? GAH. I mean I don't really need it or all of it. I could keep the parts that are me-sized and ditch the rest. I could keep it until some mystery point in the future. I could just get rid of it now.

Endings are not my strong suit. Aside from undergrad 1.0 that had this very structured set of rituals for the end of things (which I loved and participated in with gusto, such that my friends kidded me about it), I feel like I just crash into an ending and discover the consequences somewhere on the other side. Here's hoping whatever is on the other side goes well and that the landing is soft.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


This is part of the Who Needs It? challenge #2 that has this cool button but I have no idea how to make it work. Blogger spites me again. I suspect another post for challenge 2 will be forthcoming.

OK, so in the post on toy clutter I touched on the EMOTIONS of the stuff a tiny bit. So much stuff. Here's a bit about the food part of that stuff heap.

We keep perhaps an abnormally large amount of food on hand. OK, probably it really is abnormally large. We could eat only what's in the house or freezer in the garage for at least 2 weeks easily, probably as far as 3 weeks. It would be better if we could also buy some milk for the kid and spouse to go with it but otherwise we are set for that long. Currently I've got about 25 lbs of pasta lurking around, and that comes in 1 lb boxes so it's a lot. We have a 7 foot tall bookshelf that's all food plus a 5 foot high cupboard for baking supplies and cans of things (fruit mostly).

Growing up, a close family friend owned a small general store, and I hung around enough to get to know about warehouses and inventory and how much inventory it is wise to have on hand. For example, you have to order some things in bulk and if it's a custom order like for shirts, you have to get the entire year's worth at once and keep the extra stored someplace while you wait to sell it. For bread or eggs, the storage space only needs to hold a week's worth of inventory at a time because the wholesaler delivers weekly and that stuff would go bad in little more than a week anyway. So your space limits how much business you can do in a way because you can only sell in a week what you can store. Recently they remodeled to give more room for inventory out in the store rather than having a larger back room and so far it works well (not too much theft, more sales because of a wider variety of things and choices).

Inventory management is key to making your pharmacy profitable in America right now. Most pharmacies don't stock costly drugs until someone needs them or keep a very small supply on hand because you just can't tie up the business's assets in product on the shelf. It means that if you need something unusual, you might need to wait until the next day to get it or go to more than one pharmacy to get it. When the kid was sick once while we were out of town, I went to 3 pharmacies before I found one that had what she was prescribed. Was it a weird prescription? Were there better options available? Yes, but it wasn't realistic to get a new prescription in this case and it was just inconvenient the doctor prescribed something unusual. The first 2 pharmacies could have ordered her medication and had it for us by noon the next day but since it was to help her breathe better and sleep, we didn't want to wait. Inventory. It's all in how fast you can get what you need and how willing you are to make your customer wait for a medication that determines how tight you can keep your inventory as a pharmacy.

I often feel like we are trying to cut out the local shop and go straight to the warehouse ourselves these days. We do just that by going to the giant big box warehouse stores. Stores encourage it by buying one thing in bulk and then selling it cheaply to encourage us to stock up (see my pasta collection - typical price around here is $1.50/lb and my stash was all bought on sale for $1, mostly from our supermarket's truckload sales). Even supermarkets sell things in bigger packages than they used to for whatever reason. The kid and I (and occasionally Little Monster, but rarely) have been watching Classic Ses.ame lately. There was a segment on where milk came from, and all the milk in the corner store came in half gallons or quarts. I'm hard pressed to find those anymore in grocery carts at the store. Almost everyone is buying gallons now and I bet most people aren't going through 1.5 gallons a week like we do (with 2 milk drinkers... hmm...).

For me, food insecurity is a big chunk of both the buying in bulk when things are cheaper that way or on sale and in maintaining a big stockpile of food. If I know it's very possible it will be the 16th and there will be no more income until the 30th and there's no money left at all, it makes some sense to keep enough on hand to bridge the gap if we can. In the past 6 months we have discussed how to gear our stash toward foods we know the kid will eat so if we can't buy her milk (I suspect it of being her main source of nutrients) and twice we adults have eaten only stashed food for a couple of weeks. We were able to keep buying bread so I avoided baking but there's enough on hand that I can bake bread if we are out sometime. I bet it will happen again.

Just the thought of knowing exactly where my next meal comes from (the pantry or our freezer) is comforting. I am pretty sure that from here on out I will have an abnormally large stash of food around the house, no matter what our income stability looks like, because it's very soothing to be confident there will be something to eat. It might be lentils and pasta for a week but it is better than nothing.

I suppose I'd say that fear of being out of something and unable to get a new one goes beyond just food too. I have work clothes in at least 5 sizes, ranging from my student teaching days to maternity stuff, most of which I haven't worn in years and some of which I'd rather never wear again (polyester cowboy piped shirt anyone?) but I am clutching at it JUST IN CASE. There are toys the kid has outgrown that the baby won't need for a year or two that I'm keeping in haphazardly packed boxes JUST IN CASE.

My house is too much a warehouse and not enough a home. It's housing fears of economic insecurity greater than what we're experiencing now as well as the extra food and clothing. It's housing guilt that we have somehow gotten ourselves into this economic insecurity (the guilt that not having more than a half time job between us is our fault and a moral failing and not me in school and the spouse's bad luck). It's housing anxiety that we might have had something we need once but we ditched it in a de-cluttering effort and now we have to spend money to replace it (see that high chair we don't have and haven't replaced).

I think it's time to ditch some of that emotional inventory along with some of the physical stuff. Here's hoping it's possible.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


I've been mulling on this for some time now, since sometime in December, and now it's time for writing it out.

Once upon a time in kindergarten land, my kid made a variety of artwork for Thanksgiving. She painted half a turkey in watercolor (only got to half because she has one speed setting and it is painstakingly slow), made a little book with different coloring pages about the first Thanksgiving (which lied and said the pilgrims invited the Native Americans to dinner, what a laughable idea), and then there were hats. She apparently brought more than one home originally but she got out the Pilgrim hat first and wore it around playing Pilgrim for a few days. I figured it wasn't a big deal. I sat her down and explained that her book was wrong, that the Pilgrims were starving and the Native Americans invited them over for dinner because the Pilgrims didn't know how to grow food here in a different place yet. She went back to playing various things, nothing super involving that hat after the first two days.

And then the other hat turned up, with some whooping so I looked over to see what the kid was up to in the dining room. She  had another paper hat on, this one with red construction paper feathers and drawings of horses around the band.

Then I resisted the temptation to go rip the thing off of her head and stomp into her classroom to have a very heated discussion with her teacher. It was highly disturbing to me. Highly. Why? I mean, I'm a white chick after all. I know my heritage presumably includes Native American folk because I'm a good chunk French Canadian with my ancestors arriving here in the 16th century but I don't have a direct cultural link and I didn't grow up in any such culture.

My complaint is with the desecration of the sacred and letting kids make light of something that is supremely sacred to Native American cultures. I had the privilege to visit with a Native American family once and hear about how they mesh their traditional beliefs with modern life. It included hearing from a young dad about how he had a vision of dancing in a certain ceremony a few years before that visit and he is now gathering the sacred feathers for his headband, a process that takes years because they need to be a special type of eagle feather. It's worn for the most sacred healing ceremonies and after the years of preparing the attire there's years of initiation to be spiritually ready as well. This is big deal sacred stuff we're talking about.

The thing that most struck me about getting to see this head dress in progress and hear about its sacred purpose in these ceremonies was actually watching his 3 year old son interact with it. If my kid as a 3 year old had seen a feather, she would have grabbed and whined to touch it and been really excited about it. This little guy, who had been very boisterous the whole visit and had been tossing toys around, he stopped moving and stood close but not too close and just stared in awe, silently. He knew at age 3 just how significant and important that head dress was, he had awe for the sacred. All kids are capable of awe in the presence of something amazing but when it's a sacred something that amazes them, that's worth seeing.

So to see that sacred object taken so lightly just hurts my heart. Public schools are meant to be secular, are meant to stay out of the realms of anything sacred to any faith. While I appreciate the effort to be inclusive and acknowledge that there were folks besides the Pilgrims who mattered in the Thanksgiving story, it feels so wrong to me to appropriate the sacred like that and strip it down to cartoon level depictions of who Native Americans were then and are today. I spent some time considering how to describe this particular insult in ways that a (visibly at least) white teacher who has no background in educating in a diverse and inclusive way (that I can tell from what gets brought home. This Thanksgiving stuff was all of social studies in October and November) how rude these hats really seem. The two closest things I've come up with are having kids make paper communion wafers to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. day (because he was a minister!) and maybe adding some paper cleric's collars too, or the idea of making pope hats in December to celebrate Christmas. As someone raised a Christian both of those just rub me the wrong way in much the same way that I just felt insulted and wrong about seeing that cardboard hat and hearing those whoops from my kid.

I feel like our specific location in the world matters too, but I'm not telling you where I live. Silly! Let's just say it's not a reservation or anything. Despite our pretty diverse town, I wouldn't be surprised if the number of Native American kids isn't statistically significant and that makes me all the more concerned. There's nobody whose heritage is being made into a cartoon around to complain, or if they are here, they are hiding in plain sight because it's too contentious to get into and the risk is high.

Pretty soon we have parent teacher conferences and the teacher will get a piece of my mind. Based on her answers, I may have further things to say to the school board about their rude and racist curriculum or I may not.

What's your take? Am I overreacting? What is reasonable? I mean, it is kindergarten, and yet I worry that we're building foundations of knowledge here and that knowledge shouldn't make one group out to be the saviors and another out to need saving. I want no savages in my kid's mind, just people who look a little bit different and have different cultures.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

System failures

Let's talk about what isn't working around the Future PharmD household, shall we?

First we have the case of excess dishes caused by the spouse working from home and me being home most days for lunch. We don't eat the same lunch so we have far more lunch dishes volume than we do for dinner, even though there's only two of us at lunch and all four of us for dinner. Breakfast tends toward the same problem. If neither of us were home much of the day, we'd have fewer dishes but we are so it's more mess to wrangle.

Second we have the chronic illness factor. I haven't talked about this much if at all but it's huge right now since it's a mystery ailment that could range from relatively benign to fatal in the coming few years. Hopefully we get a diagnosis so we can move on from the realms of limbo where we've been residing for months. Specific to our situation is that one adult can't stand for more than about 5 minutes at a time and not for more than 20-30 minutes in an hour without severe pain. It's awfully hard to clean the kitchen or move laundry from downstairs back upstairs with those limits, let alone chase children around and keep the baby from destroying all things or chewing on the window ledges where there is surely a lead layer for her to discover. Gaping hole in the system having one of us adults so impaired.

Third we need to add in the "reach factor." There are lots of things that the kid could do for herself or as part of her chores around the house but can't because we have no stepstool. She can't put dishes away from the dishwasher because they are out of her reach. She does put away the silverware and the measuring cups that are stored where she can reach, but again, since the full loop of dish use isn't visible to her, she misses the point and isn't bothered by not getting her dirty dishes where they go.

Fourth we have the case of the jammed system happening. When the trash and recycling bins are full, the trash and recycling pile up in the kitchen (often in large pans or bowls, sometimes just in heaps). Then when the dishwasher is full, the dishes pile up on the counters. Then the dishes and trash and recycling stop making it to the kitchen because we are out of room and they pile up everywhere else. It's all stuff that would be solved if the trash got taken out every day or so and if the recycling went away on a regular basis and the dishwasher were emptied before bed every night or before breakfast every morning. BUT since things get backed up, we then have to deal with the additional resulting messes, then it's exhausting to handle all that mess so it's easier to just give up and live with the chaos.

This week we have added injury to the poor insulted system of keeping order in the kitchen, in that I fell and sprained my ankle. It's my third fall this winter, second carrying Little Monster, and I'm really lucky that I didn't get hurt before but I am still very grumpy about the whole thing. I'm being responsible and icing and elevating and all that jazz. It's getting better. Nothing else around here is getting a whit better though. I can't do anything about it and it CHAFES so much.

So. It is very clear that other people need to take on more responsibility for things and actually follow through if this is going to work. The kid has to have an empty trash can in which to deposit her crusts after dinner and an empty/all dirty dishes dishwasher to put the dishes into afterward or else it just becomes a mess. These are not negotiable things anymore. Any strides I made toward getting the kitchen cleaned up last week (and they were great for us, perhaps not in the grand scheme of things) are now totally undone. I'm not totally sure where to go from here beyond just throwing out things and asking nobody about what I discard because I have had enough. Actually I have decided on ultimatums like "take out the trash, as you promised you would do daily at least once each month for the last 6 months, or the girls and I are leaving you here with the cat to fester until you get it together. It's the trash, not rocket science. Seriously." and other nasty such things. Upside: the trash all got taken out for the first time in months yesterday (here I'm including the trashcan of tissues from beside the bed upstairs and the kid's little trashcan with smashed bits of broken plastic toys as well as the primary kitchen trash that gets emptied much more often). Minor upkeep left undone becomes a big freaking problem if you ignore it too long.

I hate nagging. I hate it so much. But from my perspective, I'm in school full time and the spouse is working part time, so I should not be responsible for all of the laundry and most of the dishes and a plurality of baby care (no I don't change many diapers but I probably will once she stops nursing, no I don't do trash, clean toilets, or the cat box because they make me throw up and I hate that). This does not compute. Perhaps from any perspective, that's what makes sense. We need to do at least one load of laundry every day to keep up and have clothes/diapers for everyone. We need to do at least one load of dishes every day. I am not seeing how me doing most of the laundry and almost all of the dishes is a fair distribution and I am not in any mood to be graceful in doing more than my share. School is my share and I just can't sleep if I also need to do all the laundry and the dishes and my stuff must happen so I never slack off while we can just get a second bedroom trashcan instead of emptying the thing regularly happens. ARG! On the one hand, I hate being unpleasant but on the other hand, just letting it go in the hopes that not nagging would get things done didn't work. I am done waiting for self-reforms to kick in and about ready to start a sticker chart for adult chores too (rewards will clearly be a personal box of ice cream treats)

I did discover a sneaky kid trick yesterday though. If she wants to keep some random scrap of paper that she's made some plan for a sale we are going to have on (this is almost daily that she does this, apparently she has great hopes that selling stuff she's made will fix our lack of funds), she has to recycle 4 other random papers from around the living/dining/office area. So yesterday she kept out two quarter sheets of paper and recycled another 8 pieces of paper with various doodles on them. Victory!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Kitchen debris before

So today's deadline in my declutter project is the kitchen. I've been working on it since mid-December and here's the clutter remaining as of yesterday. And no, not the entire kitchen is pictured and no, you can't see inside my drawers cuz it's still scary but in drawers is such an improvement over not in drawers that I'll take it.

So here's the final set of the Before images.
Beside the build in table (sideways because I'm a technophobe)

Top of the built in table (part 1 but actually the only pic)

Floor just down from top view

Turn the corner from the previous view

Best way to keep the counter clean? Keep an empty laundry basket on it, just in case.

This is opposite the built in table, home of the phone
I think the level of clutter is so far out of hand I just UGH. One of the things I decided some time ago was that I would not be sole arbiter of the clutter. I could clean it all up myself. I can and do occasionally clean up the mess myself but because I don't make it all myself, I decided that I'm not going to clean not my mess. There is a line and I imagined that if the clutter crossed that line, other people in the house would notice and would clean up sometimes. Oh being wrong. This hasn't happened at all.

Anyway, I am fighting this clutter battle in the theory that if we reset to zero clutter, anyone who enters the kitchen won't dare add to the mess that isn't there. Right? That's a reasonable theory? I actually have no idea... certainly no better idea. Blech clutter.

Let's make a list of what is there and why it's there/how long it's been there.
Image 1: 2 bags of baby food jars, one tub of baby food jars, the heat vent, kid's plastic chair with a lazy susan set on top of it, one of the barstools that goes with the table with a speaker on top for playing audio in the kidtchen, laundry hamper that is currently holding a basket of recycling topped with that plastic bubble thing the kid dragged in and a fancy dress of the baby's, and another basket of recycling on the floor next to it. On the table is the packaging from my fancy new slippers because the trash is overflowing and I'm not adding to the heap just now, a half loaf of bread in the green flash, my soda carbonating doodad behind that.

Image 2: Let's start on the left. Bag with the blue dots is actually hanging on the fridge, plastic tub of bottle parts, the knife block, gas station beverage cup, bottles of hot sauce, that soda machine again with the breadbag and packaging again. Foreground: bananas, utensil holder that's overstuffed, half gallon of juice that's homeless, scissors that are broken and only good for stabbing, pamphlet, child art that's actually on top of a barstool pile of stuff, ice cream bucket of baby bottles with the manual to the high chair on top (recently rescued from a kid art project attempt), receipts dumped out of reusable grocery bags, another gas station cup of water.

Image 3, just below image 2: reusable grocery bag, shoebox with holiday presents inside, another reusable but shiny grocery bag, baby hat, baby carseat with blanket in it, barstool mostly under the table, glass tray from the faith community that came home with treats on it before Christmas, case of mac and cheese in boxes, fox stuffed animal, just above the picture are those finger paintings from the other picture. Box-turned-caterpillar house that's now discarded, two empty soda cans, suitcase I think is empty, grocery bag with 7 lbs of pasta in it, and the recycling bin and bin of babyfood jars again.

Image 4, turning the corner from image 3: Now you can see a towel, a baby bucket cover, and two more reusable grocery bags. Up near the gate at this angle you can see I also missed another reusable grocery bag containing various board games and my festive holiday cards (unsent... ahem...).

Image 5, to the left of the fridge: Rice cooker (probably dirty since the lid is ajar), my clean water bottle, dish soap, full dish drainer, empty pitcher and box of instant potatoes behind the rice cooker, empty paper towel roll and empty glass bottles from some sparkling lemonade, bottle rack that's mostly full, ring from a gallon of milk, boxes of half-eaten cereal (I think there are about 8 boxes here, 8 more on top of the fridge unopened), and a fabulous laundry basket in front of the cereal to defend the counter against its usual pile of junk.

Image 6, the phone, directly opposite the table: cookbook we use (others are on the bookshelves elsewhere), card for daycare provider on top, random papers including take-out menus and faith community directory, prescription information (med cupboard is near here), router/modem with long Ethernet cable, boxes from some meds, bottle of magnesium supplement (unopened, purchased a year ago), decaf coffee (also unopened, purchased for cooking but not used yet), an insurance card (probably not current), bottle from baby's gassy period (empty I think), napkin holder that's empty, random assortment of medications that aren't in that cupboard for some reason, phone and answering machine (we're old school). Cupboards are below and above the phone, both not yet reorganized but I'm putting that off from today's kitchen fixing.

Impressions: there's so much more stuff here than I had realized. I've been doing dishes and taken out lots of trash/recycling over the last month and there's still all that mess left. Ugh. I also need to stamp up and down and emphasize the rest of the family's need to participate in the appropriate systems to keep this from happening. The baby food needs to be cleared out to either a home until we use it or a charity. Groceries need unpacking when you get home and do not just sit on the floor for days/weeks/who knows. The suitcases need a home somewhere or other. The one pictured was in the living room for weeks and I was promised it would be "put away" but I'll believe it when it isn't in the way anymore.

Emotions: I hate the kitchen mess most of all so I started here. It looks so nice when it's all dealt with. We can use that table! Excitement! Soon! My kid can fall off those stools soon too. I suppose it's a learning curve thing. I'm vaguely and ok really quite embarrassed about the whole mess but honesty. I need accountability and I am going to get that mess cleared up. Today.

Now back to work.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The case of the toy clutter

In either August or September I got fed up with the kid resisting putting her toys away. She had 2 bins of toys plus maybe 3 other random baskets of them on the main floor of the house that generally got dumped around the living room and dining room and sometimes into the office and kitchen. Daily.

Our policy was that she needed to pick them up before bed. We started 10 or15 minutes before bed and it was such a nightmare. "It will take forever to pick them up! I can't do it!" followed by a flop and a round of floor pounding and screaming if we tried to convince her to pick up. Nothing seemed to work. Many times there would be throwing the toys after the flailing. If she asked nicely, we would help her, and occasionally she'd get there, but not often. If one of us would help, she would pick up no more than 5 toys and then repeat the "I can't! It will take forever!" speech while watching us pick up.

So I banished the toys. I took away all of her toys from her room, the main level, all that I could find. I left out the baby's toys (some stuffed animals and plastic rings) since she wasn't having her toys taken away for failure to take care of them. I had expected protests and fussing and demands for the return of toys.

I was totally wrong. No such protests were forthcoming. She happily colored pictures and made up elaborate imaginary sequences with the stuffed animals and found her dress-up clothes stuffed under her bed. Since then she's gotten a number of strips of cloth and has added a few blankets to her regular toy cycle. No demands for any of the old toys. I think the clutter of so many toys totally overwhelmed her and it will be better to have a neat space with few things to take out rather than more places to put things away.

Now we just have to get back on the "you must help pick up at bedtime" bandwagon. Her elaborate networks of bathrobe belted tents between chairs just don't work during the day with adults cruising the house in varying states of late for something. I'm kind of tempted to just dispose of the rest of the toys quietly when she isn't looking so they never have to come back from the basement.

Figuring out how many of anything to keep is a real challenge around here. We are working on it. I think being broke is an especially great way to suddenly hang onto everything because you know you can't replace anything. Take our couch for example. It was painful to sit on it and making both adults very uncomfortable it was so worn out, so we hauled it out of the house and it will go to the dump the next time it's really cheap or free. We moved in a pair of wicker chairs we've had a decade that used to go on our back porch, back when we had a porch at all and when we had zero children and time to sit on it (rarely). They aren't awesome or very comfortable but they are better than that couch and better than nothing, so we are going with it for now. Had we used them in a year before we moved? Nope. Am I glad in retrospect that we kept them? Oh yes.

During the long wait for Little Monster, I decided that 4 years between kids and 3 years of hoping for a second one meant it was time to clear out all the kid's saved things (pretty much). We gave away a swing, a high chair, 5 boxes of baby/small kid clothes (all of them I could find), 2 strollers. Impressively this was within the week I discovered we were expecting Little Monster but still. Did we need to keep that stuff? We have been handily restocked by our faith community and a friend with a 2 year old girl and she is set for clothes until she's probably 3. I miss that high chair but the booster seat more or less works. The double stroller is reasonably good even when only driving Little Monster around (except in snow, it needs some skis. I am threatening to get a pair from a used sports gear shop to affix to it because sidewalks just don't stay clear enough around here).

What should we keep of hers now? Do we bank on a third child being a baby or small enough to wear anything of hers? Do we ditch it all presuming we will be able to afford to buy clothes for a third child by the time we get around to one joining our family? EMOTIONS.

Mostly the clutter isn't that fraught. We cleared out a cupboard tonight, keeping only 1/3 of its contents because who needs 3 juice pitchers anyway and why do we own 7 funnels plus a canning funnel? The kid is a great re-user and would happily reuse everything for something new if allowed. It cannot be allowed though. It is January and no caterpillar home can be built now and no matter how hard she works on it, it will not be intact by the time there are caterpillars.

My project for the year is not only decluttering but building a system to prevent the clutter in the first place. I fail at goals. I totally crash them one way or another. Instead I'm going to focus on building a system for myself and hopefully for the rest of the family so things are smoother. Every day we get up and do the same things, every meal we end by scraping plate or bowl and getting it into the dishwasher, every day the dishwasher gets run and emptied once it's done, every afternoon while both girls are at daycare/after-school care I go to the gym for a bit to run around, all that jazz. More structure to the sameness that is my life, less inertia keeping things the same. More of someone emptying the rotten (imagine that's your favorite curse) trash and recycling frequently, less piles around the house and overflowing cans.  I read this article recently and it is exactly right. I'm giving up goals because I reliably hit the goal and then go back to old behavior and no more. New systems, no goals per se.

I need a system and a routine to support me. Once the system is up and working well, I will hit those goals easily (cook more, run a 5k and then a 10k, declutter and keep the clutter gone). Now for actually putting the routine into place and getting it to stick... Let's hope it goes well!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Making a list and checking it twice

It is the time to declutter around the house. IT IS TIME.

I started on the decluttering project mid-December by overhauling my kitchen. I moved all the food to a new shelf in the kitchen, some of the dry goods to a closed door pantry in the dining room, and I've started weeding the frequently used pans from the rarely used ones and storying the less used stuff in the inaccessible cupboards.

Currently I have one cabinet empty waiting for me to clean out the mouse debris (the inspiration for moving the food) and be repurposed for small appliance storage rather than the handy cupboard that currently has the small appliances. I'm still considering the merits of other mouse mitigation strategies beyond leaving the thing open for the cat to cruise into it overnight a few times.

Now, with the inspiration from SRB and Stephanie I am making the list and prioritizing taming the mess. Sometime later this week is coming a post about how to deal with being married to someone whose enthusiasm for decluttering doesn't at all match yours. And the trash and how you should never let trash be a major source of marital unrest and yet sometimes it happens nonetheless...

Anyway, here is my list. I leave for rotations mid-May (2 back to back where I'll only be home weekends, one home, one far away that the family may come with, one home, Thanksgiving break, mystery rotation, mystery rotation, very far from home rotation, GRADUATE! is my schedule for the year starting in May) so there is a time crunch.

And I'm not sure I mentioned it, but I very something-something-ly signed up to be cookie boss for the kid's scout group so that will also be occupying my house/basement starting all too soon. Whoa.

Kitchen - deadline is the end of this week. Currently there remain 3 chunks of counter that are coated in dishes and other debris and one minor cupboard switcheroo left.
Dining room - goal is end of this week, deadline is the week after that.
Basement - goal is January 17th, deadline January 23rd. This is order only, contents of the basement will get dealt with hopefully within this time but the drop dead basement purge deadline is February 5th.
Bookshelves - goal is January 23, deadline is January 31.
Desk - goal of January 31, deadline of February 5th.
Office pile of debris on the floor - goal of February 5th, deadline of February 14th.
Office pile of debris above the built-in shelves - goal of February 14th, deadline of February 21st.
Office files - goal of February 28th, deadline of March 7th.
Living room - goal of March 7th, deadline of March 11th.
Master bedroom - goal of as soon as humanly possible, deadline of March 13th.
Girls' room - goal of March 13th, deadline of March 17th.
Laundry room - goal of March 17th, deadline March 22nd.
Garage east side - goal of March 28th, deadline of April 4th.
Garage south side - goal of April 4th, deadline of April 11th.
Garage west side - goal of May 2, deadline of May 9th.
Garden in the front yard - goal of 1 week from snow melt, deadline of May 10th.
Garden in the fenced yard - goal of 1 week from snow melt, deadline of May 11th.
Garden in the back yard - goal of 1 week from snow melt, deadline of May 12th.

So there we have it. The plan is all laid out and if I stick to it, the house will be in something resembling order before I start rotations. Bazinga!

I'm setting up my various things that DING! to remind me of these deadlines 3 days ahead and on the day of, adding them as a special to-do list in my email (each class has an assignment to-do list as well so I can prioritize easily what needs to happen based on how soon it's due), and they will go on the wall calendar. Accountability is happening and I'm hopeful I'll get some posts together about the experience. We have moved 8 times in less than a decade so we have many boxes of random stuff packed by someone else that haven't been opened in years that need to be dealt with, we got stuck with a bunch of stuff when my parents helped pack our stuff out of their house (see the 16 coffee cups in addition to our dozen or so, plus many more surprises I'm sure), and the bad packrat tendencies need to be fixed NOW.

Let's declutter!