The Vacuum

The vacuum is something that is seldom seen around here. A few months ago I stored it in our downstairs closet, in an effort to make it simpler to just pull out and use. That helps. But it still doesn’t get much action.

(Other small things that help you GSD: having a toilet brush in every bathroom and cleaning wipes under every sink. But I digress).

One problem with our vacuum is that it doesn’t seem particularly effective anymore. I have to move over the same spot ten times to get things swept up. That alone will kill motivation, amiright?

Back in the day when I was a regular at the gym, I started seeing the commercials for the Shark vacuum. The Shark got a lot of air time in between “Love It or List It” episodes, as I churned out my 30 minutes on the elliptical. I knew it- all of my problems with vacuuming stem from having an ineffective vacuum! If I had a more effective and easy-to-use vacuum, I would use it more often.

I am that gullible consumer who marketers LOVE.

In light of “Use What You’ve Got” month, I am forgoing the new Shark vacuum and using the perfectly adequate one that we already have. The problem, most likely, is not the vacuum. The problem is that I hate vacuuming. It makes my back hurt and I just generally dislike it. (Same with emptying the dishwasher, now that I think about it…). But the poor effectiveness certainly does not help.

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My sidekick, who played outside and “helped” while I took the vacuum apart.

Today I hauled the vacuum outside and took all the filters out for a good clean. I think I have done this twice before, in my 9 year relationship with this vacuum. Once every three years is probably sufficient, right?

The filters are now drying in the sun and all the little plastic parts that could be removed and rinsed are drying off, too. Forget the Shark, even with all the bells and whistles it offers. I’m going to give my Bissell another few years. Cleaning the filters will, I’m sure, help.

(And if you feel like your dishwasher is performing poorly but aren’t ready for a new one, here are some tips to help it do its’ job better. Use What You’ve Got!)

Kids Clothes

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A friend asked if I would ever write something about kids’ clothes. This was a few weeks ago and I keep thinking of things to write about. At the rate my internal blog post is shaping up, it would be several thousand words long and probably bore everyone to tears.

So instead of a dissertation-level post on Kids Clothes, I’ll just put out some thoughts here and there as they come to me.

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First thought:
Use the space you have. And only that space.

You have one dresser for kids’ clothes? Use that. And stop when it is full. You should be able to close the drawers EVERY DAY. Even that one day a year when you are caught up on laundry!

(Because nothing stalls the laundry cycle out like having clean clothes and not enough space to put them away. Or no need to put them away, because you already have plenty of other clothes to wear).

This applies to clothes storage, as well. If you have a massive attic and want to use it to store Rubbermaid bins of clothes, then knock yourself out. But if you don’t, then…don’t. Give those clothes away to someone else, donate them to the Pregnancy Center in your area, or sell them on Craigslist.

(I just bagged up three garbage bags of boy clothes and am selling them at $40/bag. Two of the bags are out the door and I am not taking pictures and nickel and diming over an outfit here and there. Just get the stuff out- that works best for me.)

Second thought:
There are always more kids’ clothes. Repeat that one, and tattoo it on your forearm when it comes time to purge some of your kids’ clothes.

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There is always someone else who is eager to hand over their hand-me-downs. There is always the Target clearance rack. There is always Goodwill. There are always grandparents who want to know what to buy for Christmas.

It is tempting to hold onto all the clothes, just in case.

1. In case you have another baby one day (of the same gender and born in the same season, I mean).

2. In case your child decides that he does like that outift you picked out, after all.

3. In case all her other dresses and skirts are dirty and you need that one from the back of her closet.

4. In case Old Navy, Target, and the Goodwill have burned down (all three locations!) and your child is living naked in the meantime.

5. In case you run out of money and the hand-me-down sources have dried up. And, also, number 4 is true.

Those cases are few and far between and, in my opinion, not worth holding onto excess clothes for.

Because- repeat after me- there are always more kids’ clothes.

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Third thought:
Just let him wear the same Thomas shirt over and over and eliminate the need for anything else.

(Ha ha).

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Just this morning I pulled a Rubbermaid bin out of the attic. I have girl clothes from newborn to size 5 in there. I just saved the really special stuff that my Chicken has outgrown and that I knew I would want to see again, should we ever have another girl.

It was SO ENJOYABLE to pull those clothes out. There are just a few things for every size, and each piece of clothing has strong, positive memories attached to it. I am infinitely happier to have saved that one bin (and only that one bin! See thought number one!) for this baby girl who is coming in a few months.

Let my one-bin-of-clothing inspire you, if you need inspiration to purge. It was, truly, a lovely thing.

Use It Up

I am enjoying “Use What You’ve Got” month very much so far.

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Today I took down the “curtains” that I had in the back room. Some of you will look at them and say “gosh that is so tacky! Those are clearly old blankets and beach towels.” You may be right. Or maybe my decorating style is just “thrift store eclectic”. Either way- it was time for a change.

Elsewhere in the house, folded up and not being used, I had a pair of curtains from our old house. They are a few inches too short, but still an improvement visually over the beach towel/blanket combo. And I got a small, happy feeling to use what we already had sitting around the house. They will work until I decide I am excited to shop for new curtains one day.

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I’ve also plumbed the depths of our pantry and come up with some solid lunch additions. [Maybe this is a good time to interject that I despise making school lunches, and I have only been doing it for two weeks. I am going to send some lunch money so Chicken can eat at school a time or two a week, but just haven't gotten around to it yet. In the meantime, we are on a solid rotation of pb and j and pepperoni and cheese sticks.]

My delight in finding a handful of pretzel sticks and some trail mix to throw in the old lunch bag was waaaaay out of proportion. I love using things up! I hate wasting food! Win/win.

Also on the docket this month: going through our one bin of girl clothes and seeing what I need for the baby. As opposed to, you know, shopping first and figuring out what I actually need second. I am intent, as usual, on keeping our clothes down to a minimum for this baby. Too many kids’ clothes makes me cranky.

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I can’t write today without saying something about 9/11. I remember where I was- doesn’t everyone? I lived in Charlottesville and was staying with a family while I waited tables on the Corner. I came out of my room and Lisa asked me where my Dad worked- she knew he was somewhere in NoVa and wanted to know if he worked at the Pentagon. Then she told me what happened and was still happening.

Grounds (UVA’s campus) that day was strangely quiet. They had wheeled big televisions into the libraries and kept the news on all day. We didn’t know what we were seeing unfold, but no one could look away.