Monday, December 29, 2008

We got a Roomba!

Yes, Santa brought us a lovely iRobot Roomba 400 this year. We've been playing with it, and figuring out what changes need to be made to accomodate its functionality. We had to tie up some electrical cords, and the rugs with tassles will need some adjustment--I may just swap them out for others. I do that seasonally anyway.

Here it is, resting after working hard!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Is it over yet?

It feels like Christmas has gone on forever. I'm feeling very "done" with the decorations, the wrapping paper, the newspaper ads and sales.

We had a lovely, low-key Christmas. The kids each got at least one gift they specifically asked Santa for and another gift as well. The Little one got a small Polly Pocket set and donuts (yes, she asked Santa for donuts!) and the Big one got some Pokemon card packs and donuts (again, the donuts were a specific Santa request!). I'd given the Big one ice skates a couple of months ago, and that was to be her big Christmas gift. She actually had asked Santa for a laptop, but that wasn't going to happen this year.

The adults got a couple of gifts. Both of us got new windshield wiper blades, something I asked for. We got a Roomba from Santa! I got a book, Interpreter of Maladies from one of the only literary fiction writers I like, Jhumpa Lahiri. My cat gave me some nice wool socks; he and his buddy both got catnip fleece toys in their stockings. I got the husband a sweater. Santa brought some new jammies.

Santa brought us some new Wii games--World of Goo, which I love and another one Amazing Maze? that I haven't tried yet.

And of course, everyone's stocking had a chocolate orange.

We've experienced snow and freezing temperatures for days now here, and we're all going a little stir crazy. Our street is still covered in snow and slush, my car hasn't left it's warm dry spot for over a week.

The Little one is sick--she didn't want to eat any of her Christmas candy yesterday and that's when you know she's sick. I'm not sure where she picked up the bug, but she's got a fever and is very grumpy.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


We've had crazy weather here in the NW. Last night, a lovely blanket of snow fell upon our city. Here are some views from my little house.

Yes, that is Snow Falling on Potties above. Long story short, we had a catostrophic toilet failure a few weeks ago. The tank on our 30+ year old toilet cracked and water cascaded through the bathroom floor into the basement. Water everywhere. We tried to use a free toilet as a replacement, but the footer wasn't the right size for our rough in and we ended up buying a Toto Drake, one of the top-rated low-flow toilets. I have to say it's great and we'll surely save on water now.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Media Round-up

Here are some of the books and movies I've enjoyed recently.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Making Mistakes

We all make mistakes. I know that. I try to accept it. Yet every time I err, I torture myself. I wish I could make time go backward to make the better choice, to do the right thing (whether I could have anticipated what the right thing is!).

I volunteered to watch a friend's kids for a couple of hours. Thing is, there was a snow warning. School was actually canceled, despite the fact that snow had yet to fall. I talked to the friend, and, when I learned that she had a couple of other options, accepted when she let me off the hook for the favor, due to my worries about the weather.

Turns out that there's no snow. And in fact, the roads are less hazardous than they have been due to warmer temperatures melting the black ice. I could have done the favour, no problem, and the kids would all have had a great time.

So I screwed up. I misjudged. I erred. And I can't let it go. I can't forgive myself. I guess my friend will forgive me. I hope she does. I'll owe her one or several. But I can't forgive myself.

It came to me just a few minutes ago that this inability to forgive is linked to hoarding. If I threw away something that I later wanted or needed or that turned out to be valuable, I'd feel this same crushing pain. It's awful. It's toxic. And I've felt it before, this same feeling, about things that were given away or thrown away or ruined by others or myself.

It's this same feeling that has kept me from fully using my law degree. What if I should err in a case, where not just things but people's lives or livelihoods are at stake? How could I go on from day to day knowing that mistakes will happen, that errors will be made?

The most successful people in life forgive themselves. When they err, they learn from it as best they can and they let it go. Churning these emotions is wasteful. It keeps me focused on something that can't be changed instead of moving forward.

I have no idea how to change. Imagine how that feels.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Confessions Holiday Gift Guide

It's time for a gift guide! Around the holidays, even for those of us in too much stuff recovery mode, the temptation to buy gifts for friends and family erupts. What to do? Here are some clean and simple gift ideas.

  • Donate to charity. Give a gift of cash to the local food bank, homeless shelter/mission or to an organization like Heifer International. Use Charity Navigator to check out charities before giving to make sure they use donations wisely.

  • Give what the recipient actually wants. Sure you might love that Lalique Crystal vase, but would your mother-in-law? If you must give a gift, at least give what is needed or wanted. Gift giving is a two-edged sword, a loaded gun (add your own cliche!)--it's full of peril. Save yourself by sticking to the known and respecting the values of the recipient.

  • Keep it simple. No child needs a dozen new toys at Christmas time. If a child is on your list, give a single, simple gift. One LEGO set, not six. One Barbie, not a dozen. More gifts overwhelm kids and they stop enjoying the occassion. I've seen over-gifted kids at holidays and birthday parties just go through the motions--ripping paper because they're told to by the adults in attendance.

  • Give edible gifts. But keep them simple. Teacher gifts this year are small bags of Lindt chocolate truffles. Inexpensive, yet tasty. We like to give a plate of homemade cookies to our neighbors. The kids enjoy the process, the neighbors get a sweet treat. Nothing fancy, no expensive ingredients, but a heartfelt sentiment.

  • Above all, if you can't afford it, don't buy it. Remember that o henry story, The Gift of the Magi? I hate that story! Neither of the main characters had money for a gift, so they sold treasures to buy unessential gifts that wound up being useless, because of the sale of the treasures. Such a waste. Remember that story, and keep your hair on your head and your watch in your pocket. A heartfelt hug or a bright smile and a "Happy Holidays" is much more powerful than a gift of futile sacrifice.

That's all! Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Teaching the kids right

The piles of little messes all over. The little one's habit of going into other people's private possessions. We're so very sick of it all. It has to stop. The trouble is, how? We try, but the follow-through is weak. Signs on the doors and walls? I don't know.

I do know that I am often tempted to simply box up most of their possessions. That Flylady story about the fed-up mom who boxed up all her son's toys except a few Matchbox cars and some crayons and papers comes to mind. He became a changed kid, thanks to fewer toys. Thanks to less chaos in his life.

The thinking cap is on.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Crock-Pot woes

I'm pretty sure split pea soup (with about 10 cups of liquid) shouldn't be at a rolling boil on the low setting in the Crock-Pot. Yeah. I've got an inquiry in to Rival, so we'll see.

Target has a basic slow cooker on sale for $19. Trouble is, it's available in red or black and I really prefer white.

Some good ideas in the comments, thanks. It wasn't a hugely expensive item, and no, I don't want to go back to keeping boxes for everything. It's just hard to make the switch, to being a person who tosses or donates vs. keeps every scrap of packaging to be ready for a return.

Heck, I don't even have the original receipt! I had to send it in to the company to get that $5 rebate I mentioned in an earlier post.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Now I wish I had the box!

I'm having problems with my new Crock-Pot--the low setting doesn't seem to be low enough. It's actually burned food twice, which should never happen in a slow cooker.

Without the box, I can't take it back to the store. I'll have to contact Crock-Pot, whoever makes them that is.

Argh! This is why hoarders keep everything!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Guest room chaos

The guest room is in chaos again. And I mean that literally, in the Flylady sense of: Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome. I had to ask guests to stay elsewhere last night. Oh, I've got a rotten cold, too. Without the cold, I'd have been able to do a quick stash & dash. But feeling under the weather? It's a non-starter.

So my goal is to get the guest room back in order. It's full of Christmas stuff now, decorations and crafty things I've had to dig through recently.

Sometimes, I just want it all to go away...

Monday, December 01, 2008

Clearing the clutter for the season

It's that time of year. Yes, it's December. Time for end of the year business. Time for reflection.

Time for gifts of clutter.

This year, instead of giving a gift of clutter, give a gift of time, of knowledge, of sharing. Help your neighbor with a project. Give your child a trip to the movies. Let your family enjoy a season without any tschokes from you.