December 31, 2007

The Winter Cleanse

I'm in the mood for some spring cleaning! Er, uh. Winter cleaning! You know, purging my home of all that is unnecessary to ring in the new year!

Compared to others I know in my circle of family and friends, and compared to the person I was 10 years ago, I really do not have a lot of STUFF. How I compare to the rest of the world, I don't know. It is unlikely that I would not qualify for How Clean is Your House? or Clean Sweep, although when the clutter on the kitchen counter where my family drops things that don't have an assigned place in our home leaves me no room to prepare dinner, or when the coffee table starts to overflow onto the floor with books, papers, and computer things, I start to feel like I am living in a sty. Actually, those areas are pretty easy to deal with: "Hey family! Is this important? I'm going to throw it away!" People come running and miraculously they find places to put their belongings, which is often in the trash. (It irritates me to no end that those items--75% papers from school--had to marinate on my counter first.)

About once a year I sort out bigger stuff around the house. Do we need this broken toy? So, it's not broken, but when did you play with it last? How many coffee cups do we need? Have you worn that shirt in the last year? Considering we just moved in August, you know my need to purge cannot be that strong. Also, when we moved to Las Vegas four years ago, we sold, donated, gave away, and threw away a substantial chunk of our belongings in anticipation of not being able to afford a home large enough to hold all of it. The stuff I have is nothing compared to the stuff I once had, and I rather like it that way.

Still...clutter is there. Yesterday, I went through my son's toys and found a boxful to donate, plus I filled a kitchen trash bag with random bits. It wasn't too bad, though. Actually, many of the things I put in the donate box were things that another mom gave him when she was cleaning out her house. How sweet, right? Only, we ended up getting the type things we once owned but had gotten rid of ourselves! For example, we donated his LeapFrog last year when he hadn't used it in months (and he'd had it a few years), so why did we need to get another one? I hope I don't break his little boy heart, but I did try to leave a few treasures, like marbles and rocks as I sorted through his stuff.

My son is actually fairly organized and neat. My daughter, on the other hand, doesn't understand what cleaning her room means. There is that angel on one shoulder telling me that I should not go in and do a major cleaning in her room, as she's old enough to do it herself, and old enough to deserve some privacy. The devil says that I can always claim I'm an evil stepmother, and when the daily conversations and a weekend intervention don't work, it's time to take some action. (Earlier this month, I asked her to find five things she doesn't use that she could donate. She brought down some books and a game that I don't think were even hers to give. How 'bout one of those naked Barbies? Can you spare a few of those?) Apparently her dad threatened to move everything out, so a little cleaning might make a point. Not today, though. I'm going to need backup for that task. If my sweetie is making such big threats, surely he has interest in helping, right?

I'm by no means perfect. Right now I'm sitting in the middle of 50 paperbacks that I've dragged out of the garage to enter into PaperBackSwap. Don't say I'm not dealing with my own issues! (No, Dad, there's nothing for you to read here unless you like vampire romances. Oops! Did I just admit to reading romances? Uh, well...brain candy. Quick fix.) I've cut waaaaaay back on the number of books I buy, but what do I do with the books I own but don't need to keep, and I can't pass on to friends and family members? It just so happens there are plenty of people at PBS that want my books. As soon as I started posting this morning, I had requests come in. Of course someone wants my Christopher Moore and my Chuck Palahniuk, but it's the other stuff, too. Hooray!

Reduce, reuse, recycle, baby!

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