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I decided that since both kids were at school and then with sitters for the day, I'd been walking with M. this morning, and my Dutch lesson was moved to Thursday (and then we wound up canceling for complicated Reasons), I might as well get rid of some Stuff.

This round of decluttering was focused on toys, for a couple of reasons. First (and probably most important) whenever A.'s toys start colonizing new areas, T. inevitably gets his hands on them and starts methodically destroying them. I don't think it is intentional; he's like that friend you have who can't have a water bottle in their hands without shredding the label. Not just removing the label. Shredding it.

Anyway. I had entirely removed her toys from the table and the island to a bin. Then I went through the bin, repopulated a very small container on the table. I then started decluttering the living room shelving and the upstairs hall and A.'s room (I'd already gone through T.'s room with him). I acquired an empty green bin along the way and started putting toys in it that are not Pink -- a green fidget spinner, a Happy Meal Minions toy that we had at least two of, a green sensory toy that lights up and has tentacles. So now T. (altho he doesn't know it yet) has a bin of his own toys to destroy. Fingers crossed.

I'm pretty careful when decluttering toys to focus first on getting rid of things that there are many copies of, and reducing the number of copies to a manageable number, and then rearranging the shelves and other storage so there are no suspicious empty spaces.

The whole process took many hours. I ran roomba downstairs, let it recharge, and then did the upstairs hall. Now roomba is doing the green bathroom. There was a _lot_ of sand from A.'s hair last night. Things look a lot better now, and the floor is no longer incredibly annoying to walk on barefoot.

ETA: I went to Julie's Place for dinner and had the new burger (bigger than the 4 ounce yet smaller than the 8 ounce. Really, the perfect size). T. and his sitter were there already; she felt awkward that T. didn't want me sitting with them. I didn't care; I just wanted to drink my drink and decompress from all the toy shuffling and going up and downstairs from the basement to the second floor. R. joined me after a bit. He rode the Bianchi. I brought the i3 thinking I'd head to Pepperell after to pick up A. We swapped, but both went home for a moment. Then he took the car to go get A.

I ran roomba downstairs and upstairs. I skipped the playroom downstairs, and the bedrooms upstairs. There was still sand from last night. After I ran it in the green bathroom, I noticed there was a suspicious amount of splatter on a part of the floor where that should _never_ happen. R. investigated and did some tightening of Things around the toilet in that bathroom and the master bathroom. With luck, that moisture is what has been attracting ants on and off for the last month or two, and the problem will go away.
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It's quite possible I've seen this term before. But this is the first time I _remember_ sitting up and paying attention.


"Ellen Sullivan, director of operations for Andover- and Dedham-based Home Transition Resource, one of a growing number of firms in the booming field of “senior move management.”"

"The thriving industry is a symptom of the challenge. While the senior-move specialists assist older clients with the mundane aspects of moving — choosing a mover, say, or calling the cable company — they also play the role of family therapist, buffer, diplomat.

“We can help to soften the blow if the kids don’t want anything but are afraid to tell their parents,” said Kate Grondin, founder of Home Transition Resource. “We can shift the focus to how wonderful a donation would be.”"

"Unknown just a few decades ago, the field now has a trade group — the National Association of Senior Move Managers — that counts 950 member companies.

Prices in Boston average $75 to $100 an hour, according to the association."

I'll probably be back here editing this with more link-fu. I am enchanted by the idea of this industry and want to know more.



Here, "Senior Move Manager".

"There are 37 senior-moving companies in Massachusetts alone, according to the nonprofit National Association of Senior Move Managers.

If you are weighing whether to downsize, you may benefit from hearing how these folks did it."

This article is more about the downsizing, less about the managers / specialists.


"These managers call in estate appraisers and trash collectors, antique dealers and electricians. For their more elderly clients, they study the floor plans of assisted-living apartments and find tactful ways to explain that there simply won’t be room for that recliner bought on sale at Jordan Marsh in 1962."

"Jennifer Pickett, a spokeswoman for the National Association of Senior Move Managers, estimates the average fee is $40 to $60 per hour but says rates in the Boston area may be up to twice as expensive."

The website for the professional organization: https://www.nasmm.org/

ETAYA: A South Dakota firm that does both professional organizing and senior move management is expanding from Rapid City to Sioux Falls.


Charlotte NC, a slightly different set of services offered by "senior real estate specialists". The move manager will help you figure out which / how your furniture will fit into your assisted living apartment and help you empty the rest of your four bedroom colonial ... somehow. The real estate specialist will help you figure out _where_ you are going next and may help with some of the other stuff. I think.

A Virginian realtor explains a bit more about what this kind of realtor might be able to help with: https://pilotonline.com/life/home/you-your-home-and-prepping-for-independence-days/article_170aae96-ab89-5e5e-bba4-f8881978feff.html

OK, so, logically, we want to now see an article doing the compare/contrast, amirite?


People who know me are waiting with bated breath: when will she identify books on topic to read?

If you are thinking, wow, this is what happens when people have only a few kids but enough money to pay for a high level of service quality, well, I couldn't agree more.

Ahem. Now, down to the fun part! Quoting with intent.

"Without a senior move manager, the first instinct of some adult children is to grab a box of garbage bags to get rid of things over a weekend. That’s not serving a parent with dignity. People have a lifetime of possessions. They should be disposed of with the same sort of thoughtfulness with which they were acquired."

I don't understand the argument being presented. But I will say this: apparently, supportive language and a deliberate pace are a big chunk of what the hourly fee buys you.

"Who’s really the client of a senior move manager?

The client is the person in transition, even if the adult child makes the call or is the one paying. When possible, we want the older adult to do all the decision-making."

It's like the aging parents are finally getting revenge for the wedding planning / payment situation a couple decades earlier in the family.

"What are the misconceptions about this industry?

That it costs a lot of money to hire someone. The bulk of our member companies charge between $60 and $80 an hour. The total bill is usually no more than $2,500."

Either they are _really_ good at what they do, or the process of paying $80/hour really brings it all home to people over the course of that week.

Oh, and there are a _shocking_ number of books on this topic at Amazon.
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Tomorrow, it is supposed to rain. A lot. So T.'s track has already canceled. I'm waiting for both kids' horse to cancel as well. Or heck, maybe they don't do Mother's Day anyway? I don't recall at the moment.

I took T. to martial arts this morning. He finally got his gi! I may be more excited about this than him. They worked on blocking form today. I also got an enrollment form, somewhat belatedly, that I need to fill out. Once we got home, he wanted me to buy tickets for Diary of a Wimpy Kid next week. He also wanted to see the SunPass transponder. A. had some requests as well. I got a little overwhelmed. And I think I am allergic to the roses that T. very kindly got me for Mother's Day. Isn't that just like Murphy?

I decluttered the magnetic board in the kitchen, and got R. to fill out the rest of the extended school year paperwork for T. The ESY paperwork for A. is via google, but it is broken so we'll get a new link on Monday and try then. Among other requests, A. wants to give a bunch of jewelry (plastic bead stuff, mostly) to a couple friends of hers. So we decluttered a couple boxes and a storage case on her dresser. There is still approximately a metric ton (<-- hyperbole) of cheap plastic jewelry, but it is probably a third less than what was there before.

The purple and pink leggings I ordered her arrived, along with the many, many pink socks. I got sick of arguing with her about whether the socks we bought at k-mart were pink enough, so I bought a bunch of entirely pink socks online. Turns out she prefers hot pink to pastel pink. *sigh* I then decluttered her sock drawer. I am pretty sure I've done this at least twice before in the last month.
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I took T. with me to drop off the car at the dealer to have a look at the check engine light and also do the recall work. Then we went to his dermatologist. Then I dropped him off at school.

I walked with M. (from playdate family and long time friends the B.'s) in the morning and M. (my usual walking partner) in the afternoon. Both were really pleasant conversations and the weather is great today. I did laundry, stripped a couple beds, ran roomba downstairs. I finished decluttering the downstairs hall closets and vacuumed them. I also got more of the size 10s out of A.'s drawers.

She wanted to play badminton when she got home, but she wanted to put on her spring dress first. I got pictures, including in the sun with sunglasses because who knows when I'll see that outfit again. We are both quite bad at badminton but we had a good time until her sitter arrived.

ETA: I finished watching Star Trek: Beyond. I sort of wish I'd noticed Simon Pegg's involvement in that movie _before_ I watched it. It is a really good Star Trek movie.
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I took T. to Boss Baby at Burlington. The horse was canceled (presumably due to poor footing from melting ice/mud in the paddock and on the trail), so we went to Cheesecake Factory after. Meanwhile, R. took A. to Costco, where he bought her a very cute springtime dress.

I decluttered A.'s closet, after I realized that last year's costco very cute springtime dress was never worn and definitely did not fit now. I packed up a bunch of things to send along to the next little girl who might enjoy very cute clothing in predominantly pink and purple colors.

I've been digging through several months of blog entries in an effort to reconstruct how I've been cleaning and decluttering since summer, when the cleaner was deteriorating and then was no longer with us. Over and above the obvious (boy, I don't consistently note down what I do -- I try, but I don't), it was interesting seeing the entries in which I described efforts to run roomba and how that failed.

I finished reading (the abridged/condensed and illustrated picture book adaptation of) Swiss Family Robinson to A. She really liked it. R. bought her a box of My Little Pony books. Those may be next, altho I may lobby for Land of Oz.

ETA: I also made a reservation that was involved enough people that the restaurant suggested one of their semi-private spaces and then said I'd need to sign a contract with a food and bev minimum. So that's kind of exciting -- I've done it before, but it has been a while. This is for a family reunion dinner.
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Both kids had a half day. I canceled my usual phone call with J., which made me sad, but I would have been a wreck if I attempted it because the kids would have been coming home, I would have had to get lunch into A. and I was expecting a phone call from a contractor. In the event, the contractor called while we were en route to the play date.

The play date went well. I wasn't sure how T. was going to be; he's no fan of change. But he hung in there and when we went down to the gym with the half court, he shot a few hoops. All the kids played duck duck goose, and the girls played some other games. We had a nice time.

We went straight home after the play date. I had thought about stopping at Whole Foods, but it would have been tight, and I wanted A. to get some down time before play therapy. A. and I scootered (I walk / ran) around the 1 mile loop. I probably should have put on better shoes. I was wearing some boat shoe inspired crocs, which are perhaps not the best choice for running. Not that I go very fast, but I'm heavy and the impact is noticeable.

The contractor arrived while we were out; he went around back and started measuring. T. had known he was coming, and we've hired this contractor before -- he's a really good guy so I wasn't worried at all. I was happy that T. remembered the don't-let-anyone-in-the-house rule. I'm feeling optimistic that the hand rails on the deck will be much better very soon. We're also going to try to get the deck painted this spring/summer. You know, if it ever stops snowing.

Play therapy went well. T. talked to the therapist for a while, which was nice. Then he left with B. The sitters had both had training that kept them at their regular employment until after 3. I left when the second sitter arrived, to go for a walk with M. By the time we were back, everyone had left and we had a nice half hour to hang out and relax with iPad games. R. arrived (because it was by now after 5). After M. left, we went to Raven for dinner.

I've saved the morning for last. I had intended to run Roomba (I did, in T.'s room and in the master bath) and vacuum the master bedroom (again, I did). But it turns out that vacuuming is a gateway activity. I wound up sitting on the floor of the closet, pulling out all the shoes. I was trying to get at the dust bunnies, but I figured, why not do a little decluttering while I'm here? Bags of shoes left, and I hope to get to the handbags next. Also, a lot less dust now! I even got the bags completely out of the house and to the Middle Class Guilt Reduction Station before all the excitement of the kids arriving home started.

Later in the evening, I went through the hall closets downstairs and bagged up costumes and backpacks that are too small.

I had intended to spend part of the day fiddling with photos, but the CVS website was having problems throughout the day. I didn't get to upload and order photos until fairly late in the evening. I'm trying to redo a small, multi-photo frame I took down from A.'s room to update.
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T. and I got up and boy were the roads empty this morning. We were barely on time for track and still managed to get there before a lot of people. It was very cold outside. After we got back, we hung out for a while and T. asked lots of questions and kept snacking. So I suggested we all go to Julie's Place for an early lunch/late second breakfast.

Still more questions. Things I am discovering. I knew that Disney does not want parents dropping the kiddos off at the park unattended -- they have a policy of anyone under the age of 14 in the park has to be with someone over the age of 14. I didn't give a lot of thought to the 14 rule, until today. I was trying -- and failing -- to find age policies at other parks. But, like so many things, it hasn't spread as an official policy to other parks. I tried calling Universal a year or so ago and asked them, and they didn't have an official policy, but they sure didn't want kiddos wandering around unattended. No, I do NOT mean letting your kid stand in line alone, or go on one ride while you get food, or go off to the loo by themselves, or even go on a bunch of rides while you sit with your phone and a cup of coffee in the shade. I mean, be in the park without their responsible older person being in the park with them. Anyway. It dawned on me that amusement parks are the perfect 14 or 15 year old job, because school is out of session, and a lot of independent parks close before 9 p.m., thus making most of the remaining restrictions on the 14 and 15 year old employees (at the federal level) not that much of a hardship (8 hour max/day, 40 max/week). Thus, Disney has settled on, you can be in the park alone if we might consider hiring you. Otherwise, forget it. Walt's intention was always for parents and kids to have fun together anyway.

We have now fallen into the rabbit hole of questions about pre check and global entry. 12 and under -- we get to wait another year before signing son up. But we're a little unclear on when we need to re-up ourselves, so figuring that out is becoming a Project.

ETA: Went for a walk with M. It is really nice out ... in between gusts of very cold wind. It was good to walk; it had been a couple days. I also talked A. into helping me go through some of her clothes to figure out which ones we could get rid of, either due to her not liking them or them not fitting any more.
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T. and I got up somewhat early to go to track. I had a nice conversation with B. and also saw R. who has the same first name as my younger sister, but is NOT my younger sister. We had received a message yesterday canceling the horse for today, due to cold and wind. T. decided to do some decluttering in the playroom. This turned into a pretty big exercise. We got some of the aging bins of toys out of the basement (mostly Lalaloopsy stuff, but some other things, too), and things in and around the bin on the landing on the second floor. More or less everything Hot Wheels left the house.

We went to lunch (all of us) at Julie's, then R. and T. proceeded to Savers, while A. and I walked home. Savers rejected the personal flotation device (with tags and USCG approved) and the light fixture, so we are still trying to figure out where those should go next. But still, a decent volume of stuff left the house. After, I realized I really should move the Disneyland guidebooks along; those went into the trunk of my car. Maybe a library will want them.
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Back in August, when we were at the Cape, I took the kids (at least all the girls) to Toys R Us to buy toys. This year, A. bought a lot of Shopkins stuff, including a Shopkins Town Center or something like that which is basically a not-lego kit. We put some of it together at the Cape and then brought it home where it sat untouched until today. R. took the 1500 piece puzzle he finished apart and reboxed it. I put it in the basement and set the Shopkins thing up. We'll see how long that takes to be fully assembled. I give it the weekend, and maybe one more day and it'll be done.

A. slept till noon, so I worked on the Shopkins thing for a while. Then FedEx dropped of an American Girl box. A. wanted to unbox it; I was hesitant because I wasn't sure if this was going to be a "Some Assembly Required" rolling nightmare. It wasn't -- it was all put together in the box so only a matter of extracting it from protective styrofoam and plastic bags. While A. was sleeping, I went around the house and collected all the Lalaloopsy toys into a bin, thus freeing up space in her room for the new playhouse. I haven't decided what to do with the bin of Lalaloopsy, so if you are reading this and you are driving distance from me, you could tell me you want it and you could probably have it. We have a house, the rollercoaster and a train, along with a storage case with a million small characters and their associated animal companions. There are also two largish dolls and a bed, which is compatible in terms of size with AmGirl/Our Generation type dolls, but stylistically all wrong. And there's a tea set. Really, it is two bins worth of lalaloopsy. No wonder clearing it out left enough space to shelve the last order from Scholastic and some other odds and ends like the enormous plastic rainbow slinkie.

ETA: T. and I went to Crossroads for dinner. Yum. Then we stopped at Roche Bros. for groceries. I discovered Swanson's regular (not organic or anything) no salt added chicken stock ALSO has no garlic or onion (it does have natural flavors, so look out; they claim no MSG). So we now have butternut squash soup in the fridge again. Mmmm.

R. took A. to McDonald's for dinner. Also, A. and I went around the one mile loop. She rode her scooter. I tried out the Kurus. They are pretty good. I had to jog a fair amount to keep up with her.

We finished assembling the Shopkins toy. I'm now contemplating some of the other unopened lego kits in the kids lego storage units. R. would rather do a jigsaw puzzle, but I kinda like legos.

The boys went to the dentist and then Costco. They are likely having lunch, followed by T.'s basketball. Maybe we'll see them this evening.
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I have a recliner. I used to have a Dutailier rocker, but then that whole vertigo thing happened and No More Rocking Chairs for Me. I got a really great recliner and ottoman to go with (Ekorne, which I never can manage to remember how to spell without looking it up because I know words in too many languages that sound roughly like that and it just confuses the hell out of me). Next to my recliner _should_ be some sort of small table for putting a book or device or tea and maybe a lamp on. But that's not how I roll. For a few years, I had a hutch with shelves on top of a 2 drawer lateral file (go big. Not go big or go home. Just, go big). The 2 drawer file now lives in my sort-of office and the hutch lives a separate life on the third floor. I downsized to a three shelf bookshelf that R. had (I don't own bookshelves this short, normally). This is where devices can be charged when they are not overnighting upstairs in their proper charging location. It is also where a bunch of books permanently live (the Dutch reference books, a copy of GTD, a book about Acton, the town trails guide, some blank books, a travel guide to Boston, another book with trails in a multi-town area, and all the Pfeffer holiday books and some similar things). There is also an ungodly stack of Random Crap: the last vestiges of magazine like reading material (Disney Files, Catalyst, some investor stuff, etc.). Library books live here so I don't lose track of them, etc.

Since I'm actually cleaning my own house, and because I am Lazy (<-- Aspirational Statement, so don't even try to argue with me. That is, I aspire to be clever enough to be successfully lazy), I have been trying to maximize the amount of vacuuming that can be done by Roomba (rather than me). I bet you can see where this is going.

So, I had to reorganize the 3 shelf bookshelf by my chair so I could get all the charging cords permanently up, up and away from where Roomba would eat them. Until I did this, every time Roomba ran, I had to blockade the shelf so Roomba wouldn't go nibble on those tasty, tasty cords.

Alas, I only managed to get rid of a couple of minor items. It doesn't really count as decluttering. I threw away a few receipts. I wound up some earbuds and put them into their container and put them in a new location. Really, it is barely worth mentioning. Virtually everything went back. I _did_ move some stuff off permanently to elsewhere -- there was a photo binder/scrapbook that moved to the shelf with the rest of like items. That meant the song books had to find a new home. Etc.

But it looks better, and more importantly it should work better. Of course, I'm probably still going to have to blockade the back of the couch, because I don't even want to think about Roomba repeatedly bashing itself against the somewhat tippy plant stands. Which have glass shelves on top.

ETA: Neat article at Unclutterer a few days ago:


I read Alison Stewart's excellent book _Junk_ recently, and the spark for the author to write the book was emptying out her parents' basement after they passed. Several other stories in the book also involve people having to clear out a space after someone moves away abandoning things or dies. I don't have any reason to expect I'm going to die any time soon, or experience grief of some other sort, but reading the book definitely lit a fire under me. I don't want anyone else to have to sort through all this stuff, nor do I want to have to do it while any more impaired than I already am. Now is as good a time as I am ever going to get.
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Not too long ago, I rearranged the open storage shelving next to the kitchen table. I consolidated all the crafts toys in one area. I also threw away a collection of building toys exclusively acquired as toys with kids meals at Burger King that no one ever played with once they came home. I repurposed the bin to collect items from the kitchen table that I wasn't sure what to do with -- this was before the massive clearout of the kitchen table and the bin by the basement door, thus representing an unfinished task. I've since pulled out the pieces of the Playmobil desert island playset and put them all in a zippie. I also found Still More pieces from the police station Playmobil playset (in yet another zippie to go to the lovely woman who accepted that toy from us). The mermaids went upstairs with the other mermaids and fairies. Etc. I've been collecting the LED light up Tinks and Buzzes and putting them in a bowl for Teal Pumpkin offering.

I haven't blogged about everything I have decluttered -- just samples of what I have been working on. I've repeatedly redone the pen and pencil "jar" on the counter, for example, removing more and more fairly boring pens and pencils as really cool toy pens (pens that are also toys) show up around the house. This is perhaps the one with the highest play value:

Friction car pen

It is bizarre to me that it is this appealing. It is Crap as a friction toy. You have to pull it back repeatedly to get it to go at all, and once it does, this is about all you get out of it (I have trimmed the repeated pulls necessary to get this much). (The photo below, if you click through to Flickr, will play as a video. I tried to do the LJ embed thing and it just didn't work for me.)

Friction car pen

The toy dropped on the floor and fell apart. R. was able to reassemble it so it is possible altho not very likely that this thing used to work better than it does now. It is actually not a horrible pen. But you wouldn't really expect, in a house with as many things to play with as ours has, that this thing would get an hour or more of play value out of it since it was dredged out of wherever it had been hiding for the last few months or years.

T. wants me to say we will be going to Applebee's for lunch, followed by the horse. Then M. will come for a short visit and after that the T. family will come over for play date, sewing and hopefully drinks. But as I write this, this paragraph has not yet happened.
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R. and I had lunch at Julie's Place today. Afterwards, we went to Circle Furniture, because the red couch is showing enough wear to cause R. to even think we should replace it. I may have accelerated this process after he pointed out the wear on the arm rest he sits next to and complained about how the fabric didn't last as well as it should have. I noted that it would be a lot easier to find a new home for the couch at this point, versus waiting until it is well and truly dead and we have to pay a junk hauler to take it away like the previous couch. We discussed it some; I wanted to at least think about a sleeper, because we do wind up having over night guests and having that as an option might be pretty awesome (there are other options, including the bunk bed, shifting people around, using the inflatable mattress, etc.). We had some reservations about the one sleeper that Circle carries and I found a place in Boston that had an interesting choice that would even let us use any material we showed up with. In the event, however, he decided he was okay with the sleeper Circle carries, found one with an arm style he liked and we got the queen size (not the queen plus or the king) and ordered a really cute pie cut out table too.

Having made such a major decision, I didn't attempt to do anything else cognitively demanding with the day.

R. took A. to his work for at-work trick or treating. T. hung out with his sitter for a few hours. I finished catching up on this season of Agents of Shield. And I wound up the day by putting stuff to give to the thrift in the car, thus clearing out a lot of the upstairs hallway where it was staged. T. and I will head out to the thrift first thing in the morning. A. is looking forward to going through some of her clothes to see what she has outgrown. She is excited to declutter the clothes, like she did her toys! She is also having fun finding all the little bits and pieces she is finding in her room where I put away the contents of the bin by the basement door. Which I am still feeling very smug about emptying.

I also had two hour long phone convos -- both really pleasant, one with a friend, one with a family member. (That was before the couch shopping.)

By the end of the evening, I couldn't stop yawning, so I took a half hour nap at around 6. That helped a lot.
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Yesterday, D., T. and I went to Town Hall to vote. That was interesting. I owe T. a round of SchoolHouse Rocks because he wants to know about the branches of government now. We had dinner at Crossroads afterwards, which was really fun.

I am catching up on this season of Agents of Shield. It has a very Halloween flavor in the first few episodes, with all the ghost/haunting type imagery.

I was thinking to myself, Self, your jeans fall into two categories. Too short, and too worn. So off I went to Kohl's. Fortunately, it occurred to me to ask google where Kohl's was before driving off to one of the ones I knew about because I had not realized there was one in Chelmsford, which is closer than Burlington or Nashua. Jeans and some shirts have been acquired, and I took the bag I brought the new clothes home in and loaded it up with clothes that no longer Spark Joy (a little KonMari humor there, since she is NOT a believer in the one in/one out method, but I am).

I also opened up a bin in A.'s closet that I haven't opened up in ... far too long. I basically emptied almost all of it into a kitchen trash bag, but I did extract a velcro belt pack that used to go on an Ergo that I am pretty sure I gave to A. It attaches to a belt, and I wear a belt. And it is the perfect size for a pair of sunglasses and a cell phone. I'm thinking it may be traveling with me, or at least going on walks with me. I got out a seam ripper and removed the Ergo Baby fabric label.

New ants arrived for the ant farm. I think the gel that shipped with the farm was old or something, because the ants like the replacement gel a LOT better, and it is must easier to see through this gel.

ETA: I also emptied out a bin in the living room, by decanting many of the stuffies into a trash bag and moving the rest into one of the other bins.
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I bought this hardcover at Valley Wild Books and plan on handing it off to my fellow cultofdomesticity member, D. probably later today. I have an e-copy now, too.

Advice in managing abundance does not change over time. Here is William Morris:

"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."

Of course, the details matter. When Oprah was still on the air, she brought Julie Morgenstern to her viewers. Morgenstern's loving and compassionate off the cuff analysis of how people's homes reflected their pain and uncertainty -- and how going through everything in those homes with the SPACE approach could help resolve that pain and uncertainty -- was revelatory.

Marie Kondo's book falls within this tradition, but it also shares a lot with David Allen's own cult of time management, _Getting Things Done_.

Kondo's young, but she has been doing this for a long time. She has been obsessing over women's magazines and their ads and articles about storing and organizing since she was wee (five, by her account). She has come out the other side ruthlessly opposed to containerizing and organizational systems. She -- like every other hard core manager of abundance since at least William Morris -- is ruthless: ya gotta get rid of a lot of it.

So why Kondo now?

I don't know why Karen Kingston's _Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui_ never properly took off. I loved it, and I'm not even a big fan of Feng Shui. It's just an excellent, highly readable, motivating book about getting energy flowing again by getting rid of stuff. Kondo has a chapter on Feng Shui, but Kondo's spirituality and psychology is simultaneously much more pervasive in the book and much more concrete. People talk about the "spark of joy" that is the criteria for keeping an item. People titter about saying good bye to objects as one passes them along. They flat out object to thanking objects for their service. But I wonder if perhaps this concrete spirituality is more accessible because it is so resistant to an intellectual take down. You can mock it, but unless you know quite a lot about the tradition that inspired it, it is tough to rally a solid argument against doing what she advocates, and if you actually start doing it, it really will change your perspective. It is Sneaky. I approve.

I've name checked some excellent books in the same subgenre; I haven't named a dozen others that are not nearly so good. The good ones -- including Kondo -- all have basically the same approach. Collect all like items. (Sort). Get rid of some/most of them (Purge). Find a home for what you are keeping (Assign and Containerize -- in Kondo, this is basically put it in a shoebox in the cupboard, or some variation on that theme, but with the expectation that you will replace that shoebox with something else that sparks joy when it enters your life). Maintain (Equalize; Put Everything In Its Place, etc.). Kondo's weakness, predictably, lies in Equalize/Maintain. She asserts that if you Really Do This Thoroughly, you never need to do it again.

Morgenstern, I'm sure, knows much better.

That said, if you really do a thorough job of it, and if you do not experience a major life change (person in household changes: someone is born, dies, moves in or out, becomes chronically ill; household moves to a new location, possibly several times; fire, storm, etc. damage affecting most of household, etc.), then yeah, you probably won't have to do this again. (Note that long, long list, and remember that Kondo is young.) And once you have done it, you probably won't need to hire Kondo a second time. She believes it doesn't need to be repeated because she never has repeat customers while having an amazeballs international word of mouth business that, in true cult fashion, she has wound down in favor of training acolytes. It is arguable that Kondo does Equalize/Maintenance harder than any declutterer/organizer the world has ever seen. It's just that she denies the existence of maintenance. Which sort of offends me.

Super fast read, very entertaining. Also inspiring. She is so relentlessly mono-focused that you really cannot actually misunderstand the core point: if it doesn't spark joy, you probably should get rid of it. In a world where a lot of environmental messaging causes hoarding behavior in people who would otherwise not hoard (hey, if you can't figure out how to get rid of that filter for the appliance that broke, it is gonna be there in the basement for a long while; and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Kondo would say, that's what happens when you stockpile, and she is Not Wrong. In the meantime, I have directed husband to freecycle, where I suspect he will eventually find a taker for such otherwise difficult to donate items), a book like Kondo's -- a book that batters you into throwing away the shit you can't stand anyway -- is a Very, Very Useful Thing.
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T. and I went to lunch at Applebee's followed by the horse. I had a nice conversation with my friend M. (at the horse, not my walking partner). Then it was back home to have a snack with M. (my walking partner, not my friend at the horse), which was disrupted by arriving to discover that the kitchen table was completely covered with ... stuff.

Poor M. Well, I didn't scream or yell or anything, but I was firm. Everything went into a bin and upstairs to A.'s room (it was all hers except a couple items, and T.'s item went into the trash after consultation with him). Once there, I said it all had to be put away and since there was no space to do that we had to create space by getting rid of things. We now have a full bag of stuffies, a full bag of Minnies (the snap on dress up ones and various paraphernalia), a half full bag of Doc McStuffins toys and a partially full bin with a bunch of my clothes, and a few other odds and ends that came out of A.'s room. In the course of packing up the Minnies, I found the Minnie music player that I found the book for in the playroom a few days earlier. A. and I moved from her room to the upstairs hall, and decluttered many stuffies there as well. She was a completely good sport. I didn't pressure her about anything and she got rid of a ton of stuff. The "keep" criteria seems to be: is it pink? And/or a Ty toy? There are other things she is keeping, but that accounts for a shocking amount of it. We got everything from the kitchen table put away and the room still looks much emptier than it did before, and the hall is amazingly better. M. and her dog P. departed fairly early on in this process (as we were packing up the bin to clear the table out to make space for snack).

When playdate arrived, R. got out the sewing machine, because R. (A.'s friend) and A. wanted wings attached to some of their Ty unicorns. A. and R. (husband) had gone to Michael's earlier in the week for supplies. I served coleslaw to R.'s parents (my friend D. and her husband I. also my friend of course!), and then he returned home to monitor a roast chicken and coach other child through the week's homework. D. and I had manhattans and I ate the chicken that R. had cooked on the grill before settling in to make wings. (In answer to your question, it was not wings and wings, it was drumsticks for the chicken. I know, would have been funny, right?)

Partway through our manhattans, D. brought up the topic of Halloween decorations, so I went down to the basement, pulled out that bin, and deployed the decorations. So that's done.

R. (husband) has a dehumidifier (or possibly a humidifier) filter that goes to an appliance we no longer own. Anyone got any ideas? It is NIB -- I'm thinking we may be approaching that moment where I set up a freecycle account. Ugh.

ETA: I also noticed a line of dust bunnies along the wall in the master. R. says that when he made the bed today with fresh sheets, he may have done so quite "vigorously". Dunno. I vacuumed the room, tho, because it clearly needed it. A. is having a blast with toys that she has been recently reminded of by decluttering everything else.
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Today, T. decided NOT to go to Honey Pot Hill Farms for apple picking, because it was raining and cloudy. Instead we went to the playground for a bit, and then off to Applebee's for lunch. After lunch, we drove around for a bit, because we were really early. Then we went to the horse.

There is no playdate this evening, because of illness. I vacuumed the drawers in the master bathroom after decluttering them. Nothing like having short hair for a while to make the long hairs that get everywhere really noticeable. They are not everywhere now! This was triggered in part because it turns out both kids really like to clean their feet, and I was looking for the pumice stones that I knew I owned (not for the kids, but if I'm going to be washing a bunch of feet I'm gonna do my own and as long as I'm there I might as well take the callous down a notch). But while I was in the drawers, I rationalized what went where, and moved some items out for disposal (mostly electric toothbrushes that I no longer use).

I finally decided it did make sense to have two cleaning kits, one for each floor. I don't like to do this, because the odds of one batch being ignored (or worse, both) becomes that much bigger). However, if I'm on one floor and the kit is on the other, and I just want to spend 5-10 minutes cleaning something, having to go up and down (or down and up) the stairs can be enough to stop me from doing it at all. So. 2 kits. Then I had to find a bucket for the kit, which we did not have a spare, until I realized that one of the waste baskets I was about to declutter from where it had been sitting unused on a closet shelf for ... years ... could act as a bucket and go right back onto that shelf in a more useful configuration. R. then suggested putting it on the floor in a different closet, which honestly, is a better idea simply from the perspective of What If Something Horrible Happens.

Yesterday T. and R. went ice skating for the first time in a while. T. is wearing size 8 sneakers and riding boots, however, the ice skating boot fitting guy thinks he belongs in a 6.5 wide. Which I don't doubt, but so many other shoes don't come in widths and also, we don't much care for lace ups, both of which tend to push one into larger sizes than one might otherwise be.

I've been reading about the roomba 980, and thinking about how it compares to our current model (780). I haven't actually decided yet to get a new one, but in the meantime, I'm going to pass along the one that had been sitting on a laundry shelf for ... years, to D.'s family if they want it, otherwise to someone else. Someone might as well be using it.

ETA: I vacuumed the basement stairs. This had not been done in a while, and I'm not sure it has ever been done quite so thoroughly because there is often something _on_ the stairs, waiting to move to some other location. It has been mostly clear lately (I think I got really mad a while back and threw a lot of things away. Everyone who says anger never accomplishes anyone clearly knows no one quite like me.); only one box to go further down. I had R. bring it the rest of the way down, find me a short-ish extension cord (I just need an extra 6 feet, really), and did it. I went slow. I was super careful. And you can now go up and down it in bare feet and not pick up anything. It is lovely. I'm sure it won't last.
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I walked with both my walking partners today, and had lunch with one of them in Maynard at Siam Village. I need to remember NOT to eat the soup there, either, as it gives me a headache (I still don't know if this is a shellfish issue, or if this is just a straight up MSG headache). Pad thai was fine.

We had a playdate with the B. family. Lots of fun! Many toys came out. Some went with our guests (this was preplanned) along with some bags of clothes and shoes. We have invented a new disorder for the DSM and will perhaps start mocking up the diagnosis and some other resources for it later. Tentative name: Prioritization Disorder aka Don't Know What's Important Itis, in Doc McStuffins speak. This is what comes of having an adult convo while the kids are watching Doc McStuffins.

The TV arrived early! We were expecting it this afternoon, but it showed up at 10 a.m., which is good because otherwise it might have happened smack in the middle of the playdate. We love the TV. Old TV went up to A.'s room altho we have not yet mounted or set it up yet. Hopefully tomorrow. The mount that came off the wall won't fit the new TV and unfortunately took some of the wall with it because the paint stuck. Oh well. Can't really see it behind the new TV, but we'll get that fixed at some point, too.

In the course of making space for the TV in A.'s room, I temporarily removed the lego storage thing. I also removed all the Duplos from it, put the regular legos that are A.'s into it, and bagged up the Duplos. I spent an hour or two today reassembling the zoo, supermarket, ariel's grotto, farm, etc. kits using online inventory lists. It occurred to me partway through this project to pre-emptively sort the mass of duplos by color. This sped the process of re-assembling the kits up a lot. (I'm not building the models; I'm collecting together the correct set of pieces into a bag with the picture booklet.) I seem to be missing the booklets for at least one, possibly more than one set, and I still have to do the firestation and cinderella's castle. Not Tonight, tho. Once the kits have been double checked, they'll go off to Savers, unless someone wants them and speaks up very quickly.

ETA: Oh, and A. is now signed up for gymnastics with her friend G. And I've ordered some paddock boots for T.
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It is raining today. But just barely, so I conceded only by wearing a cap instead of a visor and otherwise stuck to my t-shirt and capris. I came back only slightly damper than I left, because the warmth of walking mostly kept up with the mist. After the walk, D. and I had pie and coffee, and we went down to the basement (sounds like the beginning of a scary movie!!!) to look at some fabric (oh, well, _that_ is anticlimactic). I forget who gave us this bin of fabric, but it has been in the basement for years and we haven't done much with any of it. D. is in need of some window treatments, stat, so we donated to the cause. I could not find the rolls of fabric that we got with the bin; R. is going to have to track them down. In the course of looking, I poked into most of the closets and storage spaces in the house and found another nest of colored pencils, markers and crayons. It is like there is an infinite number of these stashes. I have no idea what the fuck I was thinking to buy so many crayons, but whenever I need any these days, I can always find another large pile somewhere. They are slowly migrating to the art shelves, which is where they belong anyway.

I drove over to the preschool to drop off the playmobil police station. Last night, I went through the bags and luggage in my closet, and pared it down a bit further. I'll see if T. wants to go to Savers, maybe tomorrow on his half day, and drop off some of the hot wheels toys and the luggage.

ETA: In your feel good story of the day:


Finally, some market competition for the EpiPen price gougers.

Depressingly, backlog at the regulator is part of why pharma price gougers don't have enough competition from generics:

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The Mesclun from Idylwilde with Trader Joe's peanut dressing made a nice addition to my bagel with pb & j that I normally have for breakfast. (Well, the bagel isn't really normal. An english muffin is normal, but we had bagels left from the Cape trip, when we made some of the kids bagel pizzas one night.)

T. and I had lunch at Applebee's. Then we went to the horse. We were early, so we drove around Carlisle some. After the horse (nice to see friends again!), we went to Savers and dropped off 3 kid umbrellas and some toys (bag of Minnie playsets and a batcave). I ran the roomba upstairs a couple times. The landing and hallway are now good, as is the master bathroom and A.'s room. I haven't gotten to T.'s room yet, and the master needs another 20 minutes or so. Roomba does a lovely job under the bed, but needs more time there.

In the course of doing the master bathroom, I asked R. about one of the area rugs. There are three in there, and two make sense to me and are in good shape. The third looks beat to hell (the former cleaner's vac did a real number on the shag and tons of loops are pulled out). We pitched it. That inspired me to take another area rug that used to be in T.'s room years ago and pitch it, also. I didn't even have to drive anywhere to get rid of them. From a zero waste perspective, terrible behavior, I know! But fuck it. At least one of them was mostly post-consumer recycled fiber anyway.

T. requested tacos at home. This was amazing. I used a packet of taco seasoning that R. (sister) gave me when we were at the Cape. It is unusual, in that it contains neither MSG or MSG clones as a major ingredient, nor does it contain any milk products. It tastes okay and T. likes it. We actually kinda had a family dinner (A. ate other things) where three of us ate the same food at the same time (well, T. and I had the last two flour tortillas, so R. had a corn tortilla, and T. only had beef with seasoning while R. and I put more on ours, including different salsas for each of us). Now that I've tasted it, I am pretty sure I can get close enough to that for T.'s purposes. Which is good, because I think the nearest Aldi's is in Leominster, which is a bit of a haul.

Dinner was so easy, and it was so pleasant to not have to take T. out, that I collected a bunch of the apples, the peeler, a knife and some bowls, and prepped the innards of an apple pie (peeled, cored, sliced, cinnamon sugared). R. did the crust. I've had a slice, and if I get hungry in the middle of the night, I know what I'm going downstairs for.
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I had a Dutch lesson! The baby is getting so cute! T. came along, since his school does not start until next week. We all three (instructor, me, T. and baby, plus two dogs) went for a walk around the park, having a two language conversation with many interruptions. I was supposed to be finally having a noon phone conversation with my friend J., now that his kids are back in school, but I screwed up and moved Dutch from Tuesday (when both kids were at home and we were having a long playdate) to Thursday and forgot to tell him. We talked _very_ briefly. There were also numerous texts. Finally, at the end of the lesson, the cleaner's agency called to say she was in the hospital. I am, of course, wishing her a complete recovery, but am unsurprised because we've seen this pattern happen once before. I canceled the contract with the agency, so I won't be talked into accepting this particular cleaner back a third time. I don't trust my judgment; I let myself be talked into this once before and never again.

We had a broken Buzz Lightyear nerf gun. I have this theory that girls don't do hardware because parents tell them not to take stuff apart and they obey that rule, whereas boys either aren't told that or just go ahead and take stuff apart anyway. So we are going to take things apart when they are broken toys and try to figure them out and if we break it permanently in the process, oh well! It was cheap, plastic and possibly broken anyway. This is Learning.

I got three walks: the aforementioned one during my Dutch lesson, one in the afternoon with M., and one in the morning with D. I wound up with two sitters this afternoon, so I'm out for drinks and dinner with R. momentarily. I've got a playdate set up for tomorrow morning, and I think T. and D.'s family and either R. or I are going to Honey Pot on Saturday morning. Probably I will be taking A. to a gymnastics lesson, altho I haven't figured out which one just yet.

I put some photos that were in a multi photo frame that I redid a few months ago away in an album (finally) and ordered new 5x7 sleeves for the album. I wrote a check in support of a 501c3. And I'm sorting through paperwork buildup. In the course of doing so, I found the assembly instructions for the Playmobil police station! So I can reassemble that tonight, maybe. A. brought home a scholastic order form, so we'll try to do that online tonight, too. A. wanted to keep home the papers she brought home, so (without discussing it with her), I picked 2x as many papers that were sitting in a stack and recycled them. My goal is to have each day net out slightly less paper in the house. It'll never work, but I keep trying! Hope springs eternal.

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