November 30th, 2014

What I thought vs What Actually Happened: November 30th, 2014

So this is it.  The last day of the first month of the year of 5 Down.  The point at which it suddenly gets confusing to know what day we’re on because it no longer matches the day of the month!  Egad. We’ve divested ourselves of 5 things each day, and each day I’ve written about the experience.  It has been, and is continuing to be, educational.

What I thought                                             vs                        What actually happened

That we would run out of stuff quickly                                   Our house looks fuller than ever

I’d be tired of digging out stuff                                                  I spend time thinking about it every day (during the rest of the day)

I would run out of things to say                                                I have more topics I’d like to cover now than when I started

The rest of the family would get bored                                    The rest of the family is more than happy to pitch in (see yesterday’s post)

Friends would think we’re weird                                              Friends have kept telling me how we’ve inspired them to get rid of excess stuff, too!

I feel as though we’re about to enter the next phase of this operation, however.  See, we’ve run through the “low-hanging fruit” as it were.  I am going to have to do some of the tougher work now.  Things like actually opening up those boxes in the storage room and hauling down the stuff from top shelves.  It’s going to get more involved, in some ways.

It has been an amazing experience so far, however, in how I think about what I’m bringing into this house.  The amount of “stuff” we still have is absolutely mind-boggling and often mystifying.  Craft fairs* are also a little less fun now that I know that that object I’m coveting is destined to become just one more thing I need to find an (other) home for eventually. Fortunately craft fairs often come with FOOD, which is very easy to figure out what to do with!

Today’s group of items seems particularly fitting as we officially move into month two: things that I don’t even know what they are.  In the on-going exploration of what it is to actually examine the stuff that has accumulated in our little lair, why is it we hang onto things even when we don’t know what they are?  At least one of these objects was purchased (by me, I’ll admit) with only a very vague notion of what it might be…and I’m still not clear (it’s to heat and place in one’s hair…but to what end?).

What a weird hobby.

I never even knew you.

I never even knew you.

Day 30 Scorecard: 150 down, 1675 to go

* I went to a craft fair today with 2 sweet friends and 2 sweet little girls (one mine, one belongs to my friend).

November 29th, 2014

A Little Help From My Son: November 29th, 2014

I offer today’s list without comment. I will not comment on the spelling nor will I comment upon the choices.  Not a peep.  Rather, I’ll just fill you in on my busy day. I did 5 things today that entirely consumed me until now (11:40pm) and it was great.  Everything started at 8:30am and it included:

1. Santa Claus Breakfast at the kids’ school and then

2. Toy Trot 5k run at Exit Realty in New Minas and then

3. Lunch with 2 of my favourite lawyer friends and then

4. Taking one of said friends, her daughter, and Solomon to the children’s last miniatures class and then

5. Dinner and a long leisurely chat while our kiddos hung out together.

Then I got to come home while they stayed overnight.

Mike and Max built the bed of many drawers (which replaced the furniture we got rid of from our bedroom!) and collected 5 down stuff.

Day 29 Scorecard: 145 down, 1680 to go

November 28th, 2014

Eyeglasses Purging: November 28th, 2014

There is a thing that happens when you read a lot.  Or get older.  Or have relatives with poor vision.  You get to wear glasses.  And as you grow up and then change, and sometimes even when you have babies, your eyesight changes even more.  Sadly, no one has yet fully explained to me why the darned things always change for the WORST.  And why can I allow my eyes to un-focus, but I can’t force them to extra-super-focus?  Why is it that if I’m sufficiently over-tired I can see double, but when I’m incredibly well-rested (full disclosure: this has not actually happened since I had children) why can’t I see in sharp-focus 2d or something?  All the eternal mysteries.

Another mystery, to me, is why the eyeglasses place always gives me back my old glasses.  And why do I accept them?  “Here you, go, here are the ones that hurt your head and made you nauseated!” “Gosh, thanks, I’ll just put those back in my purse so I can wear them again never.”

Seriously, a few years ago, poking around in my parent’s house, I found a pair of my eyeglasses from the 1980s (not the pretend it’s-so-old-it’s-new-again-80s look, but the ACTUAL 80s; a time of much ugliness and regret).  I suspect I’m going to dredge up at least 2 or 3 more pairs as the months roll by this year and next.

What does one do with old specs?  I am so glad you asked!  In fact, you can donate those gems!  Here in beautiful Canada-land (and probably all around the world since The Lions are an International bunch), you can donate them to any Lions Club and they will take hilarious selfies give them to people who need them.

In case you didn’t know, or if you’re like me and you fully intend to donate them but just put them “away” and forget.  For decades, apparently.

Day 28 Scorecard: 140 down, 1685 to go

UPDATE: Our nightstands and two dressers have left our house!  And we have welcomed some cold, hard cash in its place (plus the captain’s bed we bought).  Happiness for all!

November 27th, 2014

Running: November 27th, 2014

You may have noticed that I write somewhat frequently about running.  It’s a thing I started doing about 4 years ago.  I began with the amazing  Couch to 5 k (C25K) program, then I moved on to worshipping at the altar of our local running guru (Helen “the Helenator” MacDonald), and now I’m even able to run without needing an external force.  It’s been a life-altering habit and has had incredible side benefits all the way from improved mental health, improved physical health (maintaining my ideal body weight while eating like a pig), improved coordination, and improved social skills.  I’ve met an enormous number of amazing women (and a few awesome guys, too) in the running community.

There are some things, however, that are not that fabulous about running.  Chief among those is the heightened sense of vulnerability that can come when running.  And never do I feel that more keenly than when some [REDACTED] male yells at me.

I have deduced that this occurs more frequently when two things occur:

1. When I am running alone and

2. When I am running near dusk.

Therefore, I have recently changed my running habits.  I run earlier and I do my best to always run with a buddy. Such is the reality for those of us who aren’t early birds and have full-time jobs.  If I want to run – I’ve got to do it as early as possible after work.

Tonight, I was out running with my beautiful, brilliant, and brave running bud, Lori.  For whatever reason, we were quite coordinated tonight.  We were almost entirely in black.

I do think there is a reason for this.  Although bright white would be the most visible – who wants to wear spandex in white?  So, for the most part, running gear is mostly black.  Neither of us had remembered anything reflective.

You will be happy to hear that we stuck to sidewalks for the entirety of our run, however, we did have occasion to cross roads more than once.

And that is when it happened.  We were waiting to cross a street, and there was a truck with at least 2 men in it.  It was COLD tonight (cold as only this part of the world is cold: with 82% humidity) but these dudes still had their windows down.  And they yelled at us.

But for the first time ever, I actually entirely agreed with what they yelled at us:

“you guys need some reflective gear!!!”

Yup.

And  so, tonight I went shopping, friends.  I bought a bright yellow shell jacket (incidentally – I’ve also never had a shell and another amazing running bud, Shelley, lent me her vest shell last weekend and I was all “wherehaveyoubeenallmylife.”)  My new yellow jacket is not only entirely studded with reflectors, but it is likely visible from the moon.

Also I picked up a hat like Lori’s – it has LED lights built right into the brim of the hat!  It works really well and prevents broken bones from tripping on invisible sidewalks!  I bought mine at Mark’s.

And I also picked up 2 reflective bands that I will wear on my ankles.

So now if you hit me with your car, I will be able to mount an excellent defence to your claim that you couldn’t see me!

Oh, and because I bought one coat, it only seemed right to get rid of 5 coats.  That’s the point of this blog, after all.

Day 26 Scorecard: 135 down, 1690 to go.

November 26th, 2014

Storing Empty Boxes: November 26th, 2014

The English language, like anything that has truly gone global, has regional differences.

Think about what bread looks like, depending upon the country it came from (compare baguette to focaccia to pumpernickel, for example).  Or how differently noodles look, depending upon where in the world you find them (spaghetti to pad thai).

English has morphed and shifted to encompass experiences and expressions that are specific to a place and a time.  No one is “square” any more, for example, nor does anyone west of New Brunswick understand what a “sooky” child is.  We can learn and enjoy these differences and celebrate the quirks that come with the varied interpretations.  What we cannot (or, at least, should not) do is mock or co-opt.

All of which brings me to the wide, wonderful world of words. The one word that keeps presenting itself to me to perfectly encapsulate my reaction to the entirely unexpected discovery that this family hoards packaging is one that is not generally a part of Canadian English.

Gobsmacked.

Is that not the best word in the entire world?  Gob – like mouth, smacked – like hitting oneself in the mouth because one is just so absolutely knocked out by a turn of events that the only possible action is to clap one’s hand over one’s mouth in complete and utter astonishment?

I’ve been smacking myself repeatedly in my gob since this entire project has started.  But the ever-helpful Merriam-Webster tells me that this word is, ahem, “chiefly British.”  Therefore, I will put it to you that I have been astonished, horrified, shocked, bowled-over, flabbergasted, and rattled to my core to discover that one heck of a lot of the storage/shelf/FLOOR space in this house is apparently occupied by packages for stuff.

Rather than look back on all the boxes and packages I’ve already gone through (you can do that yourself, friend), I will limit myself to today’s discoveries: 2 iPod boxes, a box for a Kobo, and a cell phone box.  My guess is that each of the aforementioned packages were kept just in case.  You know – if the kids get tired of having iPods, say, and there is absolutely no possible way to return the original item other than to place it back into its original packaging.  Oh sure, I hear what you’re saying (because I’m creepy that way) sometimes that is exactly the case.  I am going to put forth the radical idea that the iPod you bought over a year ago, and the other one you bought a year before that, and the Kobo you got your son for finishing elementary school (3 years ago) and the cellphone that you’ve had longer than you’re willing to admit…you can probably let go of the packaging.

I think that, from now on, when we purchase a new doodad, thingamajig or whatchamacallit we need to take a wee piece of paper, a large black marker, and write down the date upon which we purchased said item.  Then, we can apply the paper to the exterior of the box and, after a decent interval, recycle that puppy.

Incidentally, I say “exterior” because apparently Clara found and decorated the interior of the Kobo box at some point in the forgotten past.  This was her pen period, and not worth of posterity (no, no photos, back off!).

Day 25 Scorecard: 130 down, 1695 to go.

November 25th, 2014

LL Bean Update and Random Crap: November 25th, 2014

Tonight is all about “why the heck did I keep that anyway?!?”

Carefully stowed away throughout our house I found 2 empty cans of sunscreen.  They were camouflaged by the 3 other bottles of not-entirely-empty cans, one of which had (apparently) been run over by one of our vehicles at some point.  I presume that type of interference with the structural integrity of the can does not change the expiration date.  Mysteriously, although the various cans of sunscreen were from different companies, all but one is set to expire in August of 2015.  Do they know something I don’t know?  Is the sun going to go supernova next August (I don’t actually even know what that means, but work with me here).

Then I found a single insole.  One.  It was also carefully stored away, near the sunscreen.  This is also a mysterious circumstance.  What would ever cause anyone (and I’m guessing a child was involved here) to choose to dispose of one insole while “putting away” the other. It boggles the mind.

The giant piece of mysterious Styrofoam cannot be explained by the children in this home.  It was located by Mike, next to his “desk.”  I offer no comment here.

Empty toner cartridge, again, why store such an item?  And the 3D glasses?  They actually have a designated drop spot for those things at the exit to the theatre.  You don’t even need to take them home!  It’s a problem with a built-in solution.

I also feel absolutely compelled to UPDATE you on an ongoing project that arose out of 5Down.  You may remember me writing about finally  sending off Solomon’s lunch box to L.L.Bean.  This was the lunch box I bought for Solomon when he was 5 and about to start school.  He’s now 9 and a half.  Tonight  I received a phone call from the good people of L.L.Bean.  I thought they were going to give me grief for sending back an obviously negligently damaged product.   I was wrong.  They were calling to ask me to choose a different pattern for his lunch box because they were all out of the one we’d ordered.  The lovely woman with whom I spoke informed me that it would arrived in approximately 4  to 5 days and then she told me to have a nice day!!!  L.L.Bean is my BFF.

Day 25 Scorecard: 125 down, 1700 to go

November 24

Wasteful Wastefulness (Oh, the Humanity): November 24th, 2014

Tonight I was going to write about getting rid of bad habits (like not exercising, for example).

Then I thought I would write about the perils of organization (where kids “clean up” by stashing things).

Then, I thought I might write about the concept of storage in general (Mr. Money Mustache and I totally see eye-to-eye on this one).

Oh sure, eventually I will write about each of those things, but tonight’s post is what some might call a Cautionary Tale.

See, tonight I came across something, as I roamed through the house looking for 5 down items.  Tonight I came across something, the sight of which nearly brought tears to my eyes.  The waste, people, the waste.  I know we’ve all found expired medication (again: another post one of these days) and I know we’ve found expired coupons.  I’ve even come across tickets to events I’d missed and that had long outlived their usefulness.  But never, until this evening, did I ever come across this nearly incomprehensible example of complete and utterly unadulterated WASTE in my house:

All that deliciousness LOST.  FOREVER.

All that deliciousness LOST. FOREVER.

I think we’ve all learned something here today.

Day 24 Scorecard: 120 down, 1705 to go

(actually, I think I did write about kids stashing things because I’ve never lost track of a single solitary chip, let alone an entire Halloween fun-sized treat bag, in my life).