I don't usually do this -- and I promise I won't push it -- but in light of the terrible tragedy in New Zealand (and other recent tragedies around the world) I wanted to post about a disaster relief charity I first heard about this week.
Author Maureen Johnson is raising money for ShelterBox, a truly innovative program for families in need. Here's Maureen's post about the project, if you'd like to see what she's doing: http://dft.ba/-shelterbox.
Each ShelterBox is designed to provide everything a family needs to set up a temporary home when theirs has been lost -- a tent, a stove, water purification supplies, even crayons and coloring books for the children. (It was the crayons that pushed me over the edge and inspired me to donate, as I sat at my desk fighting back tears. And I'm not a cry-er, in general.) To see what a typical ShelterBox looks like, click here.
I know money is tight for everyone. Believe me, I know. But if you can scrape up a few dollars or set aside a small amount from your tax return this year, I'm sure every little bit will help.
I'm slowing chipping away at the clutter in our house as part of my sole 2011 resolution, and working at my continuing quest to Clean All the Things Most of the Time. I've taken my Declutter All the Things resolution pretty seriously, and after probably way too much thought have settled into something of a three-pronged attack. First, of course, I want to get things out of the house and not bring in a bunch of new things to replace them. Secondly, I want to organize and store what we are keeping in efficient / clever ways. Finally, we are striving to spend smarter. From sticking to a grocery budget and wasting less food to not going overboard on purchases of baby toys and clothes, this has turned out to be a major player in the general life-decluttering game.
Proving that the universe has a sense of humor, I found the book Throw Out Fifty Things buried in a pile of clutter when I cleaned out the side porch to make Nico's playroom. As you can probably tell by the recent lag in posting, I've been pretty busy over the past couple of weeks, so my decluttering efforts have stalled a little. I've been thinking about following the advice in the book and starting a list of things I've thrown out, with the twin goals of kickstarting my cleaning (because I can't resist a list) and of eventually reaching 50 items. The rules stipulate that all of one kind of item just count as one thing on the list, so I can't throw out twenty refrigerator magnets and say I'm almost halfway done.
I'm planning to update the list on this post as I go along, rather than creating a new post each time I chuck something (unless I find something really funny or embarrassing buried in one of the closets). I'm sure this is only entertaining for me, so feel free come back later for cute Nico pictures. Throwing out includes throwing away, giving away, donating to Goodwill, or selling, so most of the stuff on my list will (hopefully) not be stuff that went to the dump.
Throw Out All the Things 1. a big bag of non-preferred plastic food storage containers 2. four reusable water bottles 3. the old gas stove in the basement 4. non-Vista-compatible flatbed scanner 5. the remainder of Nico's powdered baby formula 6. all the expired food that was collecting dust (and guilt) in the pantry 7. let National Geographic subscription expire (I'm counting this since for years I got the magazine but never made time to read it.) 8. five seven boxes of stuff to consignment shop 9. leaky exercise ball that I never used because it was always half flat 10. 90% of the empty boxes from the shelves in the furnace room 11. outdoor trash can full of crap from shed 12. bag of cat-hair-covered curtains from our last apartment + raggedy old throw blanket 13. three boxes to Goodwill 14. one box of items posted on freecycle 15. worm composting bin cleaned out and loaned to my workplace 16. five (!) boxes of books donated to a fundraiser sale for the dog rescue that saved Indy 17. six boxes of stuff + a spare crock pot, dust buster, and rocking chair sold in a yard sale / packed up for consignment / donated to Goodwill / freecycled 18. set of extra (crappy) hand weights 19. garbage bag full of bubble wrap and packing peanuts 20. cool but space-hogging never-used owl mug tree set consigned 21. five pairs of too-small / raggedy jeans Goodwilled 22. kitty litter box freecycled 23. basket of expired baking chips thrown out (sadness!) 24. two shopping bags full of lotions, soaps, and other pamper-y stuff donated to women's shelter 25. whole bunch of old earrings shared with sister / freecycled 26. four cool (but stored under the bed since JUNE 2004 WTF) Japanese panels consigned
Organize All the Things 1. Nico's bitty baby clothes sorted by size into plastic tubs and carried up to the attic 2. outgrown Nico jackets, bitty baby items / toys, and bitty baby bedding / swaddlers sorted into plastic tubs 3. currently-too-big Nico hand-me-downs sorted by size into boxes and stacked in the closet 4. outgrown Nico baby gear Tetrised into guest room closet 5. quote obtained for list of small home repair items we can't complete ourselves 6. breast pump and accessories washed and packed away 7. small home repairs done! 8. shed cleared out and organized 9. last of yard sale remnants sorted into three boxes for consignment and one (small!) one to keep 10. one box from bedroom pile sorted and put away 11. hand weights moved into a basket on the entertainment center instead of lying on the floor and serving as dog hair traps 12. breakfast nook / mudroom organized and top of dog crate cleared 13. whole bookcase of college books and notes carried down to new storage cabinets in the basement
14. two three boxes of non-preferred kid clothes packed up for future yard sale / craigslisting 15. basementdecluttered! 16. gift wrapping supplies sorted and moved from guest room to basement
How many gift bags does one family need? Probably not this many.
17. two shelves on living room bookcase cleared / consolidated to make space for Nico things
18. buffet storage decluttered and reorganized 19. space cleared on top of bookcase for Nico's library books 20. one box emptied and removed from Box Mountain
Decluttering & Organizing Goals for 2012 1. clear out guest room 2. finish clearing box stack in master bedroom 3. clean out dining room buffet storage 4. evaluate game collection and pare down if needed 5. solve living room lighting problem 6. reorganize / optimize linen cabinet 7. reorganize / optimize / pare down craft supply closet 8. move all important papers to basement filing cabinet 9. buy a new shredder and take care of stacks of to-shred papers 10. hang caterpillar quilt in Nico's room
Watch In the interest of slimming our budget, we agreed to ditch our cable package. I do miss the DVR, but I don't miss flipping through 200 channels on any given night and finding nothing to watch. We got Apple TV and a Netflix subscription to replace it, and in the interest of getting our money's worth, MB has queued up movies left and right. I had never seen Romancing the Stone, so we watched that last night. It was surprisingly good, especially for an 80s movie. I was impressed with the non-wimpiness of the lead female character. We also watched Chaos Theory, which I'd never heard of before. If you like Ryan Reynolds, you should give it a try. It's a sweet movie and he's funny but low-key in it. If you don't like Ryan Reynolds...well...did you not see his abs in Blade III? Actually, never mind. If you don't like RR, more for me.
Play After listening to the Decemberists' last album, Hazards of Love, on repeat for the entirety of 2009, I was eagerly anticipating their new one, The King is Dead. I got it from the library this week and was initially underwhelmed, but I think it's starting to creep up on me.
Read My sister gave me four fantasy / sci-fi novels for Christmas that she thought I'd like, and so I'm currently reading Elantris by Brandon Sanderson. It's the kind of fantasy I usually think of as heavy, with blatantly fantasy-type character names and some made-up language. Usually this is not my style of fantasy as I prefer stuff that doesn't constantly remind me that I'm reading a fantasy, but I am really enjoying the book. It has kind of been a long read for me, but not necessarily in a bad way. I'm hoping to finish it this weekend.
Surf A few blog posts that I've wanted to email to everyone I know:
And...hit me I am in search of a kids' book to pair with Bear Snores On for a program I'm doing as part of a totally nervewracking job interview situation, so if you have a favorite little kid book that involves bears, please let me know.
I get a healthy dose of schadenfreude-laced amusement out of STFU, Parents, but there's something that's come up over there a few times that is pissing me off to no end. I don't know why I let it get to me since most of the people featured in the submissions are self-absorbed morons, but for some reason it drives me to distraction. Quite often in a post about working moms vs. stay-at-home moms, a smug SAHM or two or three will comment about how SAHMs are superior because they are able to keep clean houses and do the laundry and cook for their kids. I think it pisses me off because my house has never been cleaner than it is now that Nico's sharing it. I do laundry religiously and never have piles and piles of it lying around come the weekend trying to eat my child. And granted, tonight I did eat leftover Super Bowl deli meat pinwheels and an apple for dinner, but Nico had a meat-and-vegetable toddler meal, and we had homemade spaghetti last night and pasta with fish and steamed veggies the night before. Oh, and that was courtesy of my husband, who not only works a full-time job but also teaches a college class and cleans the bathrooms. (Besides, show me someone who never resorts to frozen pizza for dinner and I'll show you someone I never want to meet up with for a beer.) I guess it bugs me so much because it's so utterly baseless and ridiculous. If you're going to bag on me for being a working mom, at least pick something I can't deny, like the fact that I spend the entire workday away from my son while he's being spoiled stinking rotten by his grandmother, his grandfather, AND his aunt raised by strangers.
Speaking of my sorely neglected child, who probably totally sits around in his diaper eating pizza rolls that he microwaved himself because his working parents are too busy putting their careers first to wash his clothes or prepare his meals, he's so much fun right now. He has 3 signs (more, please, water) and more than 20 words. He's constantly trying to figure out the world and put names to things and it's so fantastic to watch him learn. His collection of board books was vastly increased by the back-to-back Christmas / birthday extravaganza, and every time he settles down to page through them, my heart sings at the sight of my little nerdlet in action. When he sees a picture of any wheeled vehicle in a book, he makes his version of engine noises. He knows how to stick his Mega Bloks together and how to take apart the things we build for him. He plays pretend with the little pots and pans in his kitchen. He loves to share oranges with MB. He's learning to treat Mom & Dad's pets gently and tries to share his baby crunchies with Indy. If I try to type on the computer while he's around, he'll come over and grab my pinkie and pull my hand away from the keyboard. He's funny and sassy and sweet and as much as I miss having a little baby, having a little boy is pretty great, too.
I've always been a vivid, detailed, full-color dreamer. A lot of my dreams are like action movies, and some of them are so utterly badass that I wake up wishing I had one of those subconscious typewriters from The Tommyknockers. This morning, though, I felt utterly ripped off. The last dream I had after putting Nico back in his crib for a rare and much-anticipated lie-in was an incredibly detailed and vivid road trip dream. I was traveling around with several of my friends, hooray, it was really cool! And then we decided to stop at Taco Bell and the rest of the dream was a completely realistic scenario of us realizing several miles down the road that they'd forgotten half of our order and returning to get the rest of our food. For some reason I was elected to go and demand the food and a refund, and then when the Taco Bell manager refused to give me the refund my friends made fun of me as if I'd promised results. Plus they messed up our order again, and doesn't this all sound riveting? I woke up wanting to demand a refund on the time I spent having that stupid dream.
If I ever win the lottery or some other very large cash prize, I will spend a ridiculous amount of my winnings on woot shirts. Thanks to the bibliophile I'm already the proud owner of two woot shirts, the Villainous Victorian Velociraptor and Knock, Knock (Nico is a fan. He thinks the orange is a ball. The placement is slightly problematic as he likes to point to the ball repeatedly.) I made the mistake of looking at the site the other day and now I want one of everything. Okay, not quite everything. But close. Come on, man, this? Gorgeous.
Last night Nico got the little plastic pots and pans out of his play kitchen and for the first time, stirred around in them with a spoon. Then he dipped a miniature spatula into a pot, raised it to his mouth, and pretended to eat. I lived and breathed pretend play as a child, so obviously I was thrilled. Once he noticed that I was watching him, he wanted me to pretend to eat, too. We'll have to work on his aim, lest I end up with a tiny plastic pasta serving spoon wedged in my nostril.
Bonus video of my kid's creative approach to banana consumption: