Category Archives: clutter

One-Word Wednesday

Got it done! Hold your applause, please!!

My comfy office chair is cleared of clutter. Hold your applause, please!! By the way, the pager wasn’t found.


Excavation Update

Believe it or not, this looked worse.

Believe it or not, this looked worse.

When I decided to cut down from five to three blog posts a week, I wrote that I planned to spend some of those two nonwriting days decluttering and organizing. I’m sure that you’ve spent many sleepless nights wondering about my progress. Right?

I’m chagrined . . . but not at all surprised . . . to report that the results definitely are mixed. My biggest project so far has been decluttering the comfy, red chair in my office . . . for at least the third time (oy!). Yes, it’s the proverbial treadmill of my small space. It’s just too easy to throw something on it just for a day. Until all those items pile up for far too many months.

Shredding, recycling, and need-to-organize piles are on my office floor.

Shredding, recycling, and need-to-organize piles are on my office floor.

Working on the chair has been akin to an archeological dig. As I unearth layers, it’s like strolling through the eras of my life. There are lots of photos of the boys from back in the day when I actually made prints (aka pre-digital cameras). Piles of papers from as early as 2003 seem to mock me. Some actually need to be kept (in a place where I can readily find them), but most require either recycling or shredding.

A classic!

A classic!

I laughed out loud when I found the manual for my old pager. I remember buying it in 1997 thinking it was such cutting-edge technology. Glad I didn’t invest in beeper companies!

I didn’t hesitate to toss the manual into the recycling pile. After all, if I really need it, there’s an online version (which was easily found by our pal Eric). But it did make me wonder one thing:

Will I find the pager when I finish sifting through the rest of the stuff on the chair?!?

Before and After: Corralling Stuffed Animals

It’s cute, but it’s still clutter.

This is the before scene of my new math approach to dealing with clutter. Take one large pile of cute stuffed animals left behind in my #1 son’s bedroom when he left for college.

New corrals for the animals

Add three containers that really are laundry hampers. Also use one big wicker basket and one smaller orange receptacle already in my older son’s room.

Then add about 10 minutes of work, which includes vacuuming where the large pile had been. Add them all up. What’s the solution?

This looks so much neater!

An end to the clutter! You’ve successfully corralled all the animals! Yeehaw!

Oh, and as a bonus, add seven to the answer.

A pair of the Mister’s socks plus six orphans belonging to my #2 son

Because that’s the amount of dirty socks found among the animals. Which then were put in a real laundry hamper!

The Sock Castle

The sock pile is neatly stacked Tuesday on the couch.

Tuesday I worked for about 10 minutes sorting all the unmatched socks that previously resided on top of the dryer into neat stacks according to type (e.g., dress, athletic, Mom’s) on one of our couches. There probably were at least 50 socks requiring attention, most belonging to a certain #2 son.

I’ve dubbed the pile the “sock castle.” Just because it’s towering.

I was about to try to pair them as I mindlessly watched TV when I suddenly got tired. Which prompted me to try an experiment: Why not wait for the sock fairy? You know, the one who waltzes into houses magically and mysteriously when everyone’s asleep to match up mounds of loose socks.

So I left them where they rested, admonishing the Mister and my #1 son not to sit on them (males!). I went to sleep with visions of paired socks dancing in my head. Maybe we’d get the kind of sock fairy who would even lovingly deliver the garments to their respective recipients’ dresser drawers. Wouldn’t that be grand?

Day two. Sigh!

Wednesday morning I sprang out of bed, ran to the family room, and looked at the couch.

Sadly, the socks were just as I had left them the previous day. No sock fairy had deigned to visit and help out. And need I show you the exact same photo today?!? Same result as yesterday.

Looks like I need to turn to my cheap slave labor (aka my sons) while I supervise from my favorite chair, iPad in hand and feet up on the ottoman. No, I’m not their wicked stepmother, but for some reason I feel like emitting an evil cackle.

Hey, Cinderfellas! It’s time to storm the sock castle!!

It’s Shoe Planting Season Again!

Our shoe farm needs to be weeded!

Last Sunday our shoe farm reappeared in our front foyer. This time it was just a small crop, but it still annoyed me to see it.

Surrounding my #1 son’s backpack, folder, and pencil pouch were his own two pairs of shoes (sandals for every day and sneakers for work), my “third son” Chase’s sneaks, and my #2 son’s everyday running shoes. But the worst offenders? The wet, muddy footwear from that morning when #2 and the Mister played disc golf in the pouring rain. Which meant there was mud and water on our relatively clean tile floor.

Not that it was clean anymore!

Since this photo, the shoes have been dispersed to their rightful living areas (with both pairs of muddy shoes spending some time on the shoe dryer that has saved the lives of so many sneakers). But when I was Photoshopping the picture, I couldn’t help but notice one disturbing thing: The paint in the corner of the wall needs to be touched up!

Looks like those males who are parking their footwear in the shoe farm lot aren’t being very careful when they toss them against the wall. Maybe I’ll find the paint can, brush, and some newspaper and place them in that corner as a hint.

Know what the result probably would be? They’ll start shoe farming on the other side of the foyer!

Got Shoes?

To the left . . .

To the left . . .

I walked in the front door last night and instantly froze. It looked like we had a shoe farm in the front foyer!

Sidebar: When I use a word like “foyer” to describe an area in my cluttered house, I feel like a fraud. Sounds a little too fancy for our abode, that’s for sure.

Here’s what was growing: To the left was where the #1 son always parks his stuff. That’s where he keeps his backpack and sandals; he wears sandals year ’round. But this time a small crop of sneakers had sprouted up—#1’s old sneaks that he wore to play disc golf in, as well as my “third son” Chase’s huge boats, complete with a t-shirt that he continues to leave. And that random five-pound weight? Who knows why it’s there. Just something for me to stub my toe on, no doubt.

To the right closest to the door . . .

To the right closest to the door . . .

As for the right side, is it any surprise that the #2 son  (aka Mr. Sports Store) takes up two corners with his shoe harvest? Next to the door he had his pseudo Crocs covered in mini discs (Why? Why not!). We like our fake Crocs for short trips outside where there’s a bunch of acorns ready to destroy bare feet.

The other right corner . . .

The other right corner . . .

The other right corner is vintage #2 son. His plot of foyer acreage featured three pairs of shoes that told the story of his weekend: Running shoes worn Friday at his cross-country meet, spare sneakers used at his disc golf tournament Saturday, and football cleats kicked off after his flag football game Sunday. He also had his spare disc golf bag that he had used Thursday when he was practicing for Saturday’s tournament.

Wish he had put his homework in that pile. That might have meant he had been working on it!

And, yes, we do have a shoe rack. It’s in the kitchen close to the back door. Which they didn’t walk through while wearing these shoes. Apparently, the foyer, which gets more sun during the day, is a better location for growing shoes. Think I’ll buy the boys some overalls!!

Ten-Minute Tasking


Part of #2 son's messy bedroom

Part of #2 son's messy bedroom

The venerable Lazy Moms, aka Amanda and Leslie, have dubbed Tuesday as Ten-Minute Task day, and it makes a lot of sense. Chopping big chores into little jobs that can be done in 10 minutes makes the process less intimidating. Very important for someone like me who needs to get so much done but has severe stay-at-home-mom ADD.

Those of you who have it know exactly what I’m talking about: You start out working on one task, say, unloading the dishwasher. Right in the middle of putting the dishes away, you think about the grocery list and remember that you need to buy Lean Pockets (#1’s fave is pepperoni). You stop almost mid-plate and dash over to your grocery list (which for me is on my iPhone) and write or type in what you need. You stand there for a minute or so and write or type in any other items that come to mind. Then you walk into your office to check your e-mail, blogs, and the news. After 15 minutes or so, you walk back into the kitchen and are totally surprised to see that the dishwasher door is open and half unloaded. Or is it half loaded? Then you have to figure out if the dishes are dirty or clean and finish the job.

After all that confusion, you really need a nap!

Fortunately for me, I know the dishwasher is filled with dirty dishes, etc., right now, so I don’t have to deal with it. Hopefully, I can stay on task, because I have a couple TMTs slated for today. The first is to whip up a résumé in my desktop-publishing software for the #1 son, so he can apply for a part-time and/or summer job at the public library. As is typical of me, I’ve had this on my get ’er done list for several weeks. Sigh! But today it will get done!

7182-closetThe second TMT will take a boatload of 10-minute increments to eventually complete: Dealing with the mess in the #2 son’s bedroom. It seems like every time we tame the clutter . . . even going so far as to take everything out of the room except the furniture . . . things creep back in as if drawn to its blue-walled confines. Much of the stuff is sporting equipment, everything from discs to golf clubs to lacrosse sticks to baseball bats. The #2 son almost could open up his own sporting goods store!

And yet amid all the clutter and chaos is one shining star of hope: the closet. Look at it in the photo above; it seems neat! But don’t let it fool you. It only looks that way, because #2 doesn’t wear any of the clothes hanging there. The ones he likes are in dresser drawers (not shown).

#2 son is due to get a new double bed. But we need to empty out his room in order to fit it in. That emptying process begins today . . . for at least 10 minutes!

Whimsical Wednesday



The Mister and I watched a couple movies recently. The one we rented reminded us why we’ve always loved seeing movies; the one we saw in the theatre reinforced our belief that Hollywood isn’t always rooted in reality.

We took the boys to see “He’s Just Not That Into You.” There were a few times that we were really glad that they don’t sit with us anymore (it was rated PG-13, but our version of that rating and Hollywood’s are worlds apart). When there are scenes that we think our 13-year-old shouldn’t see, we’re the ones whispering to one another, “Who are the bad parents who brought their young kid to see this movie?” Then we make sure we walk out after the movie, making no eye contact with our kids.

So what did we think of the movie? It earned our dreaded “rentable” rating, which means it wasn’t worth spending movie theatre prices on it. We went to the $5 show, but that still was too expensive for this film. It did have talented actors and was enjoyable to watch; it’s probably a good date flick. But it had those of us who have been married almost 19 years rolling our eyes at times.

greatdebatersContrast that to the movie we rented, “The Great Debaters,” which we should have seen in the theatre. Of course, any movie with Denzel Washington is bound to be good; he’s such a great actor. I think we’ve enjoyed every movie we’ve seen that he’s starred in. All the other actors also were terrific. Excellent movie, great story. Recommended!

CPS moments

gv-hoodyThere have been several times this year when the #2 son has been tempted to call Child Protective Services. The first one was when I made him wear, OMG, a hoody to school when it was cold. Gosh, it wasn’t like I made him put on jeans and a long-sleeved shirt!  I know better than that. The second? I put our home phone number on his school binders; he claims the other eighth-grade guys have teased him about it. Holy cow! CPS, put the cuffs on me; I’m guilty as charged.

Homely no longer

A quick update on that funny headline in our local newspaper, the one that claimed that “Fort Bend families at risk for homeliness.” The next week not only did a corrected headline read, “Homeless families in Fort Bend County need help,” but they also reprinted the entire letter to the editor. Still made me giggle a bit.

Get ’er dones

I need to fold laundry and participate in Kitchen Wednesday. #2 son has a track meet tonight. The good news (for him) is that he’s only triple jumping, so he’ll be done early; the bad news is that it’s supposed to rain. I probably won’t bring my camera equipment, but I will take the Flip Mino and see if there are any videoable moments. Videoable? I think I made that up!

Final thoughts

There’s no new “Lost” episode tonight. Makes me sad. Very sad.

It’s a Sign



I made someone very sad awhile back . . . and I didn’t even know him.

I had gotten out of my car and was about to mosey on over to Chipotle, the greatest place on earth to eat, when I noticed that a crew was putting the finishing touches on an awning over Jimmy John’s sandwich shop next door. What I saw written on the awning stopped me in my tracks: “Gourmet Sanwiches.”

Suppressing a chuckle, I walked over to the guy supervising the two awning installers and said, “Did you misspell it on purpose?”

“What?” he asked.

“The word ‘sanwiches,'” I replied. “It should have a ‘d’ in it.”

You should have seen the look on his face. Titanic sadness visibly washed over him.

I continued on to Chipotle. After I finished eating the most-delicious food on earth (a veggie bowl of rice, black beans, peppers and onions, pico de gallo, corn relish, guacamole [the best part!], and lettuce), I walked to my car, got in, and stared through the raindrops at Jimmy John’s. This was what I saw:



Yep, the awning was gone, and the installers were packing up to leave. I don’t think I made their day at all!

A few days later, all was right with Jimmy John’s and the awning:

cpd-final-jj-signAt least it’s finally correct. Unlike this sign at our local Nestle’s Toll House Café:

web-sandwitchSigh! Guess I need to stop in and make someone else’s day.

Ten-Minute Task

box_pse6_150x150It’s day 3 in the Search for the Photoshop Elements 3.0 Install Disc saga. I worked hard for 10 minutes during my TMT yesterday to no avail. Apparently, that disc grew legs and walked away from the clutter like so many other things have done over the years. So I explored my options and decided the best course of action was to order PSE 6 from It should arrive tomorrow, and then the #1 son and I will have to figure it out; I know there are a lot of changes from version 3.0. There are manuals for $30 (yep, even on!) available, but I plan to check out Half-Price Books and see what they have. I don’t want to spend almost half the price of the software for a manual. Fortunately, there’s always lots of good information and tutorials online.

Get ’er dones

Today is that every-other-week very-important Kitchen Wednesday . . . the cleaning crew comes tomorrow, so I want to do as much in the kitchen as possible in terms of going through the mail and papers and shredding. Tonight is another track meet for the #2 son, who again will be running the 100 and 200 meters as well as triple jumping. Hopefully, he’ll be able to triple jump earlier, enabling me to get better photos. There won’t be a fence around the field event area, so I’m looking forward to roaming with my camera!

Sister Shoutout


If you’re lucky, there are people in your world who you can look up to and who love you unconditionally. For me, one of those is my oldest sister, Fran. Above is a photo of the two of us in 1962 on Halloween. Being three and a half years older than me, she was considerably taller than me back then; now we’re the same height. But I still look up to her! She continues to inspire me and make me think; I just with we lived closer so we could spend more time together.


Fran at her eighth-grade graduation in 1963.


Fran in 1954.

As the oldest of four kids, Fran was undeniably the leader of our pack as we grew up in Chicago. My mom didn’t know how to drive, so we walked, rode our bikes, or took the bus and/or train everywhere. When we would walk the three miles to the public library, Fran decided we were like an army, and she was our colonel. She dubbed us “Colonel McNutt and his screwball army.” Oh, the adventures that unit had! It’s one of my fondest childhood memories.

The four of us in 1958 (I'm second from the right).

The four of us in 1958 (I'm second from the right).

Even though Fran and I are only three and a half years apart, our kids are exactly 20 years apart—she married young, and I was older when I finally got hitched. This is going to be a big year for my big sis: She turned 59 over the weekend, she’s about to become a first-time grandmother in a week or so, and her older daughter is getting married in July. So, happy birthday, Colonel McNutt! I hope your 59th year is your best year ever!!

And another shoutout to my baby brother, Art, who scanned these photos from my father’s slide collection. Thanks, little bro!

Get ’er dones

I actually enjoyed a productive weekend! It probably helped that the Mister and our #2 son traveled to a disc golf doubles tournament and were gone both days. The Scout CDs have been burned and delivered, my track photos have been uploaded to Smugmug, the family room clutter chair finally is empty (although I do need to work on what I’ve kept). I even got rid of some extra music CDs to a high schooler collecting for the troops.

Today I have a dental checkup, I need to find the Photoshop Elements install disc and reinstall it on the boys’ iMac, and I need to do a Time Machine backup on my MacBook (I only need to back it up monthly). Just enough to keep me out of trouble!