Teeny Tiny Tidy-Up Tuesday Post (on a really BIG subject)

1 Comment

In weight loss, as in toilet training, as in life – I think the key to success is setting attainable goals. Well, I haven’t been attaining much in the way of Tidy Up Tuesday posts lately, but you don’t get much more attainable than this:

I pulled out the last of my maternity clothes.


I piled them up on the dresser.


I wrote two posts about it, including this one.

(wait. seriously?)

And then I put them in the basement. And now the world is a tidier place.

That is all.

Great Garage Cleanout: The Not-So-Instant Replay


[The Instagram pics don’t seem to load very well – you may need to refresh the page a few times. Bleh.]

This post feels a little bit like I’m cheating, but I’m going to do it anyway. Because Sara April issued a Garage Cleanup Challenge – at my suggestion – and not only did I not get to it until the May long weekend, I’m only finally blogging about it now.

The cheating part? I live-tweeted it. So all I’m going to do now is paste in my tweets. So for those who did not see it live, here is the replay ;).

[Editor’s Note: I did figure it out – sort of. It was purchased for a bin of scooping & construction-type toys. Not sure how it migrated out to the garage though]

[Another note: we do, in fact, now have 5 strollers. But we are selling at least one, possibly two. If you know anyone who wants an as-new (used once) MEC stroller/trailer, please let me know]

[Hi. Me again. I have to admit that that box, along with several others, went into the shed pretty much as-is. There’s another project right there.]

[So I, er, feel the need to justify owning 8 shepherd’s hooks. We used to live in the country. The hook-density on 2 acres was a lot lower than it is here.]

[No justifying this one though. And no pic – too embarassing :P]

Phew! That took almost as long as the cleanout itself. Someone shoot me the next time I decide to take a ‘shortcut’ and ‘just paste together some tweets’ instead of writing a post…

Everything I ever needed to know about tidying I learned from Dora the Explorer


© Nickelodeon, Fair Use (Commentary)

Have you ever watched Dora the Explorer? At the beginning of every adventure, she consults her map, which always has exactly three steps to get to where she needs to go. A typical trek might take her

  1. across the raging river, and
  2. over the slippery rock, to
  3. crocodile lake.

Through the rest of the journey, Dora will chant to remind herself:


(I apologize to all the parents who now have that running through their heads.)

A week or so ago, I was playing single parent for 5 days. My usual M.O.in this situation is to hunker down, accept that not much will get accomplished, and focus on not going crazy. But about half-way through, I snapped. I couldn’t stand to look at a livingroom floor so covered in toys as to obscure the wood (and yet without hiding any of the dirt. Go fig.)

So I surprised myself. I strapped the baby to my back, deposited the toddler in the livingroom with an iPhone and Netflix (tuned to Dora, of course), and started cleaning.

Now, what frequently happens when I go on one of these cleaning binges is I get bogged down in ‘prerequisites’ and attempts at uber-efficiency. I want to do the dishes, but first I should start the laundry (you know, so the machine is going while I do other things). But if I’m going to do that, I should really go through the house first and make sure everything is collected and sorted. And while I’m doing that, well, if I’m going up the stairs there’s all this stuff I should take with me…

At the end of the day, I’m just frustrated. I’ve been busting my butt, but it seems like nothing has been accomplished. Certainly very little has been completed. Indeed, all the running around has reminded me of all the things I haven’t done.

Enter Dora, and her three-step process.

I decided that my ‘todo’ list was not allowed to have more than 3 items on it. Only after finishing one could I add another. And to keep focussed, I was walking around the house chanting “LAUNdry. DISHes. FEED the CATs“.

So I guess you could say that I had abandonned my mantra of “hunker down and don’t go crazy”.

But something rather useful came out of this little diversion from sanity, aside from a house that was in better shape while single-parenting than otherwise. I came up with a few rules of thumb that I think may serve me well going forward:

  1. never let the to-do list get longer than 3 items
  2. don’t walk by something that can be fixed in 30 seconds, but
  3. never divert from the current item for more than a minute.

Wow. Leave me alone for a few days and I end up with an entirely new world-view. It’s enough to make me look forward to hubby’s next trip.


The Garage


When we moved into our new house, we had a very aggressive timeline. We closed the new house one Wednesday, and the old one the next Wednesday. We had my sister’s out of town wedding the weekend in between, and a 10-month-old in tow. So when I got the keys at 4pm, the first thing I did was head for the house to make sure everything was ready for the movers the next day.

It wasn’t.

There were 8 large bags of smelly garbage in the garage. There was an ancient chest freezer downstairs, and a queen size bed upstairs. There was a lamp in the guest room that the previous owner had been so kind as to label for us:

Fire Hazard

Yes. That does, in fact, say “fire hazard”.

Thankfully, we had the world’s awesomest real estate agents, who got on the phone with the selling agents and (ahem) persuaded them pay for the clean up. We had the world’s awesomest movers, who called in reinforcements and got everything moved out so that we could move in.

1.8 metric tonnes of stuff went to the dump that day.

That’s right. One point eight metric tonnes. Including a sign that said “City of Kanata. No Dumping”.

No Dumping

But that’s not all. While the movers were pulling junk out of the shed, it collapsed. Apparently it was only being held up by the stuff that was stuffed into it.

Without a garden shed, the garage never really had a chance. It’s now so gridlocked that we can’t move around in it to organize it. I’m sure there’s stuff in there we could get rid of, but I can’t even get to it.

And so, tada! Here is our new shed:

This is, shall we say, a work in progress. But progress is being made, and it is being made just a bit quicker thanks to Sara’s garage challenge.  This deadline was the only thing that kept me going when every Home Depot in town had the shed I wanted ‘in the computer’, but only one actually had one to sell.

So we’re off! We’ve found someone to help build the shed, and with any luck I’ll have some ‘after’ pics in time for April 22!

A Cluttered Mind


[Sidenote: Today is not just Tidy-Up Tuesday, it’s also Two-Post Tuesday. Check out my very first post on Losing It in Ottawa!]

Tidy-Up Tuesday is usually about tidying stuff, but I thought I’d take a different tack today and talk about ideas. Get them? Me too. And I’m hoping that since Sara likes them, she won’t mind me straying too far with her meme ;).

I don’t know about you, but my brainstorms are more like hurricanes, sending me spinning in six directions at once and leaving behind a really long to-do list.  Even when the storm is over, any effort to focus on a single idea gets thrown off by the waves of aftershocks.

See? I can’t even focus on a single metaphor.

The point is, the ideas tend to come fast and furious and at the most inconvenient times. I currently use a mish-mash of approaches to capturing and organizing them, from single-topic iPhone notes and Google docs to great big brainstorm ‘buckets’. After all, the rest of my stuff is pitched into bins.

The ideas range from blog topics to snippets of scintillating prose,  from killer apps to the “perfect gift”. Because much like when it comes to picking a restaurant, I can never think of anything when the moment arrives to do something about it.

The problem with big buckets is they eventually need to be sorted out. I now have a single Google Doc called “Bloggy Brainstorm” that’s 2633 words long. Point form.

The problem with organizing on-the-fly is not only is it too time-consuming, but you end up with too many buckets. You get 3 scattered buckets that should all be in one, and you lose track of this week’s meal plan in the sea of blog post ideas. Because I also have well over a hundred semi-organized notes that are either intended to be a single post or are their own mish-mash of ideas.

Begs the question: is there an app for that?? I’m currently learning to write iPhone apps (because I really needed another source of brainstorm detritus).  I think this may be my first app. Because otherwise how on earth will I keep track of all of those ideas?!?!

What about you? What do you do when inspiration hits? How do you keep your ideas organized?

The Self-Cleaning Pet


About a year ago, after years of hemming and hawing and debating whether it would be a completely self-indulgent gadgety boondoggle, we bought a Roomba.

It was initially very popular around here. The grown-ups watched it wander the house while postulating on its mapping algorithm. We contemplated attaching googly-eyes. Miss Bea (then 18 months old) squealed with delight as it bumped into walls, turned around, and trundled off in another direction.

Unfortunately, the squeals turned to screams when it came out from under the bed and nipped her ankle. And who could blame her? That’s the stuff nightmares are made of.

And to do him credit, Roomba turned right back around and hid under the bed.

I’m still torn on whether this was a good purchase or not, and the debate has come to the fore as I contemplate Roomba’s wet-land cousin, Scooba.  But first I figure I’d better be sure Roomba was the right call.


  • It vacuums the floor by itself. Duh.

Don’t like…

  • Self-cleaning is actually a bit of a misnomer. If you want Roomba to keep working you have to be meticulous about taking it apart and cleaning it regularly. You have to take apart bits you didn’t even realize came apart (it should really ship with a break-out photo)
  • It works best without too many obstacles (ie, the ideal is one big, square room with no furniture). It can navigate around stuff but the more complex it is, the longer it takes.  And the more battery it burns through.  And this is important because…
  • The battery sucks. There’s no two ways around it -> the thing is less than a year old and the battery no longer holds enough charge to do my entire front hall. It’s replaceable, but I’m procrastinating because I’m pretty sure it’s also pricey.

So basically I have to not only tidy before running it, I have to shift things around and compartmentalize the house into ever smaller bits in order to get it to work.

To be fair, this will probably not be necessary once our livingroom is no longer home to a toy kitchen, a Jolly Jumper stand, a playpen, and a rocking-moose.

At this point we need to decide whether to get a new battery and/or wait until the livingroom has been ‘simplified’.

But don’t just take my word for it…

I recently read a glowing review on Cool Mom Tech. If you’re thinking about a Roomba, you might want to check that out.

In fact, there are tonnes of reviews online, many of which cite the same quibbles as mine. I just wasn’t listening. I reealllly wanted a Roomba.

And as I say, there’s still Scooba to think about ;).

Closet Clean Out


My closet needs a clean-out. Did I get it done in time for Tidy-Up Tuesday? Of course not.

But I did find some added motivation. I’ve decided that this:

needs one of these:

An iPad Sweater!! How cool is that? You can answer that question in this Geek Sugar poll, where I first came across it.

You can also buy it on Etsy. Or you can do what I’m planning on doing and (eventually) clean out the closet and make one for yourself. In fact, somewhere I have a pillow that used to be a favourite shirt.

But do you think I could find it for this post? Of course not. Apparently there’s another closet around here that needs a cleanout.

If only I knew which one.

Older Entries