Love Uncluttered

I spent the past two weeks pretty entrenched in family stuff. My Dad is selling his house and buying a condo on the beach. My sisters were in town, so we’ve been furniture shopping and started to sort through some of the stuff in the house, figuring out what he’ll take with him (15%), what my brothers and sisters and I will take (15%) and what will be sold at the massive garage sale we’ll have (we can all figure out this percentage, I hope).

I’ve talked in the past about the mounds and mounds of clutter and crap my stepmother amassed. My Dad lived in a house full of clutter with her for thirty-five years and never complained. The house was always relatively clean, but there was nary a surface unoccupied. And as each of us moved out of the house she took over our rooms and filled the closets and drawers with little gifts she thought the kids would like, or napkins for a future dinner party, or address books (we’ve found at least twenty, filled with the same addresses over and over and over again). There are hundreds of glasses, every kitchen gizmo and gadget you can think of (and some we still have no clue about), family heirlooms and enough serving dishes to give one to every soldier in Iraq. Well, not really. But a LOT.

Now that she’s not there my Dad’s innate need for order (I am an accountant’s daughter) has resurfaced, and with a vengeance. He cannot tolerate any new mess, any new clutter. Extra food brought into the house for the duration of my sisters’ stay is already out of the house, and my sister doesn’t leave until tomorrow. This after noon he asked us to clean up the kids’ toys, about 1/2 hour before more grandkids were showing up. We explained and he relented, but the mess really bothers him.

His new home will be very different from the one he lives in today. The furniture will be less ornate (his new bedroom and dining room sets are lovely and elegant with very clean lines), there will be surfaces uncluttered, and likely there will be empty drawers. To me a much more relaxing place to be.

But that’s not the point.

What’s so fascinating, so wonderful, so cool, is how he adapted for the woman he loved. She brought him so much joy that he learned to live with the clutter, the shopping bags, and the bills. He didn’t try to control the house or her love of stuff. I don’t think he even noticed that much; not until she was gone.

We all deserve to be loved like that, don’t we?


Monday Linklet – I’m Feeling the Love!

The Festival of Frugality was hosted over at Sound Money Matters this week. I’m honored that they chose my post Bigger Packages Are Not Always A Better Value as an Editor’s pick. Thanks!

Other clickworthy articles:

Lazyman and Money hosted the Carnival of Personal Finance this week and read all 114 entries. I can forgive him not putting my actual blog name or the actual title of the post, as he did include Why I Don’t Let My Mortgage Company Pay My Insurance and Taxes.

I admit I didn’t read all of the included articles, but these two caught my eye:

The Carnival of Money Stories included my post Husband Had a Date With Another Woman, And I’m Worried.

The stories this week were great!

  • Happy Rock wrote Breakdown – Is Triple A(AAA) Worth The Money?, and for me the answer is a resounding yes! First, my Dad still pays for this and I’m not even embarrassed. Family plans are cheaper, and he likes knowing we’re safe. Who am I to argue? Second, I’d buy it anyway because of the other discounts I get (did you know about the 10% off at Payless Shoes?). Most importantly, if I break down on the side of the road I like the peace of mind of not having to figure out whom to call.

The Carnival of Family Life was hosted at Diary of 1 this week, and included my post Love Uncluttered.

There were lots and lots of non-carnival mentions this week, which are super-flattering:

Whew! That’s a lot of link love! Thanks so much!

A year ago…

Kate at One More Thing is doing a weekly carnival of sorts, choosing a topic for other bloggers to write about.  This week’s topic is “A Year Ago”.

A year ago I was cleaning crap out of my Dad’s house.  This year I’m moving crap into my Dad’s house.

A year ago Son was in school.  This year he is not.

A year ago I was writing 1-2 posts per day.  This year I am writing 1-2 posts per week.

A year ago I had a colonoscopy.   This year I don’t have to.  Next year,  either.  Or the year after that.  Or the year after THAT.  We won’t talk about the year AFTER that.

A year ago we were worried because someone had just gotten laid off from Husband’s agency.  This year we are worried because someone has just gotten laid off from Husband’s agency.

A year ago Son napped daily and I napped occassionally. This year no one naps but Husband’s grandmother.

A year ago I was getting curtains hung.  This year I’m taking curtains down.

It’s been a fairly good year for us.  We’re all alive, Husband is employed and we are moving to a house more than twice as big as this one.

Here’s hoping this year is better.  And that next year I won’t have to consult my blogs to remember what happened this year.

That Ain’t No Singer

Every Wednesday is bulk pickup day in my neighborhood. In the past I’ve been known to profit from my neighbors’ garbage. People throw away some seriously good stuff.

Lately, though, I’ve not even been looking. We are trying to downsize and declutter as we get ready to sell the house. We’re already overstuffed because of the items I’ve brought home that were from my Dad’s old house, things that he couldn’t bear to see leave the family. And Husband tends to get a little crazed when His Domain (aka the garage) gets cluttered.

All my good intentions flew South as I walked out of my house two mornings ago. There by the curb my next door neighbor had placed several items too good to resist. Items that should not be taking up space in a landfill. Items that should be used, or sold on Craigslist.

There was a perfectly good girl’s bike. There was a perfectly good dog crate.

And there was this:

Do you know what that is? Yes, it’s a sewing machine. But it’s not an ordinary sewing machine. It’s a HUSQVARNA VIKING Sewing machine. Selling for $800 and up.

And she was tossing it. A lovely, lovely woman who is obviously slightly insane.

My current Singer sewing machine has…issues. This one needs a new needle plate, but according to my neighbor it is in otherwise good condition.

I’m thinking Mama has a new sewing machine. But the other part of me is screaming, “SELL IT!”

The bike and the crate will definitely be sold. It makes Husband feel funny. He wonders if perhaps I should give the money to the neighbors; I don’t think that’s necessary – they were tossing it. Besides, a “Surprise! Here’s $30. I sold your garbage for you,” might not be received so nicely…

On the other hand, someone very close to me was once selling brand new $50 wood blinds from Home Depot, in an unopened box, at a garage sale for $5. They didn’t sell, so I fibbed and told her I’d take them, that a friend might buy them. I then hightailed it over to HD and returned them. She seemed pretty happy when I handed her the gift card, and I was very happy to do it…

I know what I’m going to do.  What would you do?

90% Well Done

This morning I went to use the microwave and noticed it was dirty. I cleaned it, then noticed that the electric can opener was, too (does anyone have one of these that works well? I never have!). I cleaned that and pretty soon there was no stopping the ball from gaining momentum on the way to completely tearing apart my kitchen. Three garbage bags, 1 large charity box and twelve cleaned and re-organized cabinets later my kitchen is just about ready to be shown. That’s good, since I have appointments with two realtors this week.

It’s hard for me to plan ahead for these things. When I think about a huge job like that I get so overwhelmed I don’t even want to begin. And lately I’ve been doing so much at my Dad’s old house that the thought of packing or cleaning out anything is about as welcome as a hemorrhoid. As a result the upkeep of my house, and the market-readiness work have fallen to the wayside. That’s not right, but it’s the way that it is. Or has been.

But when something just evolves the way it did today I feel empowered and completely forget to be overwhelmed.

I like that feeling.

The only downside is that I still have not found a cure for the 90% Doneness Syndrome. I get 90% of a job done and am left with a pile of things that I don’t know what to do with, or am too tired to deal with after busting my tush all day. Today’s 10% is currently sitting on my dining room table.


Tomorrow. I’ll deal with it tomorrow.

Thanks, Jerk

I’m still working to get the clutter out of my Dad’s old house, even as he’s already been in the new place for three weeks.

A local charity is coming by on Tuesday to pick up a truckload of items we don’t want or need.  They won’t take anything that’s not in saleable condition, so I needed to do something with the thirty-two (yes, 32) pieces of patio furniture that were too old, rusty, and/or dirty to sell, but were perfect for someone who wanted to put in a little elbow grease to restore them.

So, I placed an ad on Craigslist in their “Free” section offering a curb alert.  They could please come and take  what they wanted from the side deck, but please respect our property and don’t take anything not in the  place specified and don’t drive on the grass.

Today I asked my sister-in-law to do a drive-by to see what, if anything was left.  Some of the items were gone, but someone who apparently is not the Next Coming of Ghandi decided to dump a sodden old couch in the yard.


So, thanks, Jerk, for teaching me a lesson.

Anyone want a sodden green couch?  It’s free.  Just send me a copy of your drivers license and I’ll send you the address.

Better yet, let us deliver it.

Memories Are Best Kept In My Heart, Not in Drawers and Boxes All Over the House

I’ve learned something from going through all of the clutter at my Dad’s house. I don’t want anyone to ever have to sort through drawer after box after closet of my crap.

So, what am I going to do with all mine?

I have a lot. I’ve saved movie stubs and birthday cards and love notes and locks of hair. I’ve saved t-shirts and brochures and Playbills and candy bar wrappers.

And it’s not organized. There’s some here, and some there. Every once in awhile I’ll take a bunch of it and put it in a box or drawer. These things never go into scrapbooks or anything that would be able to be enjoyed by someone else. But really, who would anyway?

Then there’s my planners. I had saved my daily planners for about ten years, figuring it would be kind of cool to look back in later years and see what I’d done, where I’d been. Yesterday when we were cleaning out the garage I saw them and started thinking about them. Who is going to care that I had a doctor’s appointment on March 28, 2001? Really. I tossed them.

So I got the thought into my head to just get rid of all of the loose memorabilia, the random junk that will mean nothing to anyone but me. I may save a very few things that are very special to me, but they won’t be random pieces of paper or tickets to my 10th Styx concert. Those memories are best kept in my heart.

But not my photos. I’m not going to get rid of my photos.

But they did get me thinking some more. At my Dad’s house there is a closet and a large part of the garage that hold photo albums and scrapbooks and other memorabilia from my stepmother, and her mother, and my grandmother, and any number of older, deceased family members. What does one do with that? My stepmother obviously felt compelled to keep it, but she had no idea what to do with it all either, besides throw it in a closet. No one really wants it, but no one wants to toss it, either. I’d like my Dad to hold onto the stuff from when we were growing up, and his Mom’s stuff. But no one really wants the other stuff. It’s not my decision to toss it or not, and thank goodness for that.

So of course that got me thinking some more. Who is going to want mine?

I have a son. Boys typically could care less about these types of things. He’s not going to want them. Sure, his future wife will want to see and have pictures and some memorabilia of him growing up, but she’s not going to want mine, or my Dad’s.

So, I’m keeping my photos. And a little bit of my memorabilia. And a lot of his memorabilia. And someday, hopefully many, many years from now, he’ll go through it all and decide what he wants to keep, and what he wants to toss. I won’t mind.

All of the memories will live in my heart, and hopefully in his.

My Economic Stimulus Check Didn’t Arrive When Promised!

Every morning this week I’ve turned on my computer and immediately went to my bank’s website to see if our Economic Stimulus check was deposited yet (Is that anal? My friend says it is. I don’t think so. Do you?). Every morning I’ve been disappointed. Well, except for Wednesday when our tax refund was deposited. I did a little happy dance that day.

Husband was irritated because we “should have been in the first wave,” but I reassured him that the published schedule promises our payment no later than May 2nd. There’s still time.

Yesterday morning I went through the same routine but could not connect to my bank’s website. Their server must have been temporarily down – all those people checking to see if their money arrived. I had to leave home to do the World’s Biggest De-cluttering Job to get my Dad’s house ready for it’s first official showing, so I wasn’t near a computer again until 8pm last night.

As expected, the first thing I did when I sat down at my computer was to check to see if our Economic Stimulus check was deposited yet.

It wasn’t.

Dadgummit!!! Where the heck is our money?

So I did a little research and found out:

If you file your taxes after April 15th yours will not go out until at least May 9th.

Well, I filed before the 15th.

If you had any fees taken out of your initial refund (like their processing fee like many people do), you’ll get a paper check.

Nope. No fees. It pays to be The Accountant’s Daughter.

Then I found this little tidbit on the Stimulus Payment Schedule:

“A small percentage of tax returns will require additional time to process and to compute a stimulus payment amount. For these returns, stimulus payments may not be issued in accordance with the schedule above, even if the tax return was processed by April 15.”

Aha! There’s an exception to every rule. Apparently I’m it.

(Why can’t I be the exception for something fun? For example, why can’t I be the one who can eat and eat and not gain weight? Why can’t I be the one who can wear really high heels and not have them kill my feet? Why can’t I be the one that enjoys cleaning? Noooooooooo. I get to be the one who doesn’t get my money when almost everyone else does. Lucky me.)

The delay is likely because even though I am a Stay at Home Mom I did do some work last year and earned about $2000. And I declared it as income to our freelance Sole Proprietorship, so my situation may not easily fit into one of their computation formulas.

It’s great to be special.

But wait!

I went to the IRS website again this morning because PaidTwice mentioned in a post that you can go there to find out when to expect your Economic Stimulus check.

I found on the IRS website, but in a different spot than the above info (and wouldn’t it be nice if all of the pertinent information was in the same location?):

In general, the payment schedule only applies if your return was received and the IRS finished processing your return before April 15. If you filed your return on time, but close to the April 15 deadline, the IRS may not have finished processing it before April 15.

Processing times for tax returns and stimulus payments vary. If you are getting a regular income-tax refund, the IRS will send you that refund first. Normally, your stimulus payment will follow one to two weeks later.

Ahhh. Well, I did file before April 15th. On the 13th, to be exact.

So it looks like my little morning ritual will have to last awhile longer. And I’ll lose out on a little interest income.

But I’m still special, right?


Edited to add some helful links:

Didn’t get the amount you were supposed to get for your kids? You may be getting another check! Click here for info!

When will your economic stimulus payment arrive?

Frequently Asked Questions: Received the Stimulus Payment?

Economic Stimulus Calculator – Or How Much to Expect

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