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My Coat Closet Blues

Lately, I’ve been struggling with one of life’s deep questions: “Should I completely revamp the coat closet, or does it just need some tidying up?”

We bought the closet before we even moved, thinking it would be a cheap, easy way to have an instant coat closet. It is, but the gray and black aluminum and plastic don’t exactly match the wood that is everywhere else in our house, namely the rest of the furniture and the interior walls.

And honestly, it looks cheap.

Here’s what it looked like before I tidied it:

It uglified that corner of the house.

However, it had also gotten cluttered. So I wondered, do I really need to replace it to make that corner nicer, or would a good declutter do the trick?

The top shelf used to contain a tin with miscellaneous small tool things: picture hangers, small nails, string, even a vinyl pool repair kit (we had a vinyl pool at one point in the suburbs). Under the tin was a clear plastic storage box of math games.

Above the shelf hung an old pair of child’s sunglasses that B hasn’t worn in forever.

Here’s what that shelf looked like before:

First, I emptied the tin and found better homes for the items inside. I earned a small (1/2 cup) Rubbermaid food storage container by combining the two containers of picture hangers and dumping the nails inside one of the containers that I’d emptied.

Then, I got rid of all the games, placing the deck of cards in the desk drawer where it used to be. I say “all the games,” but there were only five or six plus a book of math games we no longer need.

I cleaned up the sunglasses and put them in the Goodwill pile. Here’s the “after” photo for that shelf:

I hung up two caps that had been lying around, and moved two puzzle boxes down, but did that after I took the above photo.

The next shelf down had a box full of winter gear – gloves, hats, a scarf. B’s old winter coat – very dirty and clunky-looking the way it was lying there – lay on top.

Here’s a photo of what was inside the box, minus a couple of B’s winter items:

That clear box that had housed the math games? I put my and J’s winter items into it. I had another clear plastic box lying around empty underneath our bed, and realized it was just the right size for B’s winter things. Here’s what the shelf looked like when I got done with it:

Oh, and his old coat his now in the Tuff Shed. One day I might use it to cover up a kale plant on a very cold winter’s night. Or something like that.

Second shelf from the bottom housed three pairs of shoes I never wear anymore. No, make that four!

One pair went into the garbage. The others…

Remember the old box the winter clothing was in? Yep. I put the other shoes in there. That box is also in the Tuff Shed. If no one wears those shoes in the next two years, I’ll throw them away, as well.

Now that shelf is holding two pairs of J’s shoes that don’t need to live on the shoe organizer since J only wears occasionally, as well as the winter cleats.

Here’s what it looks like now:

Here are the before and after photos of the shoe organizer during this process:

Basically, I was able to clear off the top and make room for J’s slippers.

Here’s what the coat closet looked liked when I was all done:

Notice that from the bottom of the main closet space I removed the portable plastic table that we no longer use for anything, which made room to hang B’s outwear from the bottom rod.

Neater, but I still can’t get over the color. And it’s general cheap appearance. But I have a solution! I’ll tell you about it when we make the change and I can snap a few photos. 😉


Deciding On Decluttering

A while back I wrote this post about my “slow declutter.”

Well, now I’m getting impatient. I don’t want to go slowly. I want to get rid of a lot of stuff, now. Why? Mainly because I’m tired of dusting knick-knacks that we no longer see and books that nobody’s touched in ages.

What’s stopping me?

So, why don’t I get busy and declutter? First of all, guilt. I would like nothing more than to clear off all the bookcases and give them away. Okay, maybe not all, but at least the two tall ones. (We have two short ones in addition, not counting the other tall bookcase that currently serves as the kitchen pantry.)

BUT…what if B could use some of the books we have on those shelves when he grows up? Should we save them for him? As far as that goes, what about the homeschooling books I bought which now sit neglected (because we’re unschooling)? Do I keep them just in case, in four or five years, he wants to formally teach himself all the map skills or all the clever ways there are to do long division?

And he might want the bookcases, too. Maybe I should just wait until he moves out when he’s thirty-five, and then redo the house the way I want.

The second thing stopping me is Patchy. You probably don’t remember we have a pet rat. She’s going to be our very last pet rat, but in the meantime, she has at least a year of life left in her (barring any tumors or illnesses) and her cage takes up space on a wall that could be used to place other furniture.

In addition, when she was younger she (and her friend who died this past summer) would get up on the bookshelves and chew whatever their little teeth desired. So I purposely packed all the bottom shelves full so that she can’t climb up on them.

The third thing stopping me is J. He seems intent on keeping certain books, saying he’ll get around to reading them one day when B is older. But these days J has a lot of spare time, and he doesn’t spend any of it reading any of the books on the bookcases in the living room area.

Knocking out the objections

*1 – Saving things for our son.

One day, he’ll have a Kindle. And if I really want to bless him with helpful material on parenting or spirituality or whatever, I can spend $50-$100 to buy him the digital versions of the several books in question.

As he gets older, I am going to strongly encourage him to “go tiny.” He may end up being one of those people who lives out of a camper van. However he may decide to live tiny, he would definitely not need bookcases.

Also, if he does want a bigger house, he’ll be able to build his own bookcases!

As for the homeschooling stuff, there’s this thing called the Internet. Anything he wants or needs to learn, he can find it online.

*2 – Patchy taking up space.

First, her cage doesn’t take up that much space. And I’m fine with waiting until her demise to use the space for something other than her cage.

Second, I’m not sure she’s into climbing onto shelves anymore. She never even tries to get up on the places that are still open to her. Whether I finally trained her with my loud clapping accompanied by a “No!”, or whether her middle-aged self is just getting too tired to climb around, I don’t think that’s a viable reason for me not to declutter.

*3 – My book-clinging husband.

There’s room for a few of his books that are currently housed in the living room on the shelves above our bed.

The ones he rarely touches but wants to keep could go in a box which could be stored in the new closet/wardrobe J is building for us.

Time to get to work!

Okay, I think I’ve convinced myself that I can go ahead and get rid of yet more unused items from our house. Photos and explanations of the declutter process/possible redecorating coming up!


Lost And…Still Lost

You can chase a dream that seems so out of reach,

And you know it may not ever come your way.

Dream it anyway.

I love this song by Martina McBride. And I get the sentiment behind this verse, I really do. But the problem with chasing a dream is that even if you attain it, it won’t turn out to be the idyllic thing you thought it would be.

And that hurts. Sometimes, it hurts a lot.

In this recent post about three random things going on in my life, I talk about how excited B was to get his first micro-drone. After getting the hang of the remote and feeling like he had the drone under control, he started playing with it outside.

He  had an immense amount of fun with it…for three days. Then, the other day, it was a bit windy and he was trying to see how high he could get it to fly. J cautioned him to bring it down. B didn’t.

You can guess the end of the story.

A few minutes later, he ran into the house near tears. “I was flying the drone and the wind took it and I didn’t see where it went!”

For those readers who don’t know, I should tell you that we live in the middle of a forested mountain. With lots of pines and cedars holding out lots of needle-covered branches just waiting to capture micro-drones.

J and I went out to help B look for it. Along the way, B yelled, “I hate myself!” while beating himself on the leg and head.

I don’t know where he could have picked up that nasty habit. It’s not like we have a perimenopausal woman in the house whose mental stability was questionable once in a while before she started increasing her magnesium dosage.

Anyway, at one point he started crying, and came to me for a hug. You know when an eleven-year-old boy does that, he’s upset.

We kept looking in the places that seemed reasonable to look given his estimation of how far it had gone. I looked even further. Back inside the house, B lashed out at me, telling me he wanted his money back. He had paid for the toy himself, making the loss even more painful.

He also demanded (no asking politely when he’s angry) several times that we replace it. He didn’t have a lot of money saved up, and the $21 this toy cost took a chunk out of his savings.

A little while later, J and I canvassed the woods, weeds, and brush pile further. All to no avail.

I couldn’t help the maternal told-you-so that rose up inside me, so I reminded B that I had advised against asking for or buying flying remote control devices because of all the trees. When he finally calmed down, he conceded that he should have asked for a ground RC vehicle for his birthday rather than the big drone, and wished he hadn’t bought the micro-drone.

The thing about chasing dreams is that sometimes they can bring huge disappointments. But if we don’t go after them, how will we grow into our potential? Learn to tweak our desires?

Learning to deal with disappointment is a part of life. Finding disappointment at the end of a dream is a particularly hard pill to swallow, but if we recognize that it doesn’t mean the end of the road, but a sign pointing us in a better direction for us, then it’s all good.


Hurting, Healing, And Husbands

The day before yesterday, I said some things to J that I later regretted. Basically, I implied that he’s lazy and my life sucks because of it. Key word here being “implied”; as much as I’ve been tempted over the years, I haven’t ever actually called him the “L” word.

(A side note: my primary temperament is choleric, his is phlegmatic, and cholerics are, on their bad days, notorious for believing phlegmatics – laid back people – are lazy. So it ain’t just me.)

Once in a while, crap like that tries to come out of my mouth. And once in a while, it succeeds. Then I feel terrible a few minutes later, and have to apologize to my husband who will then feel down for the rest of the day.

I do it because I’m afraid. They say that anger is a secondary emotion, and usually when I get angry it’s because I’m trying to hide a fear. My long-standing fear is that life won’t work out according to my ideals, and I will therefore be miserable.

Yeah, I know: “How’s that working out for ya?”

Lately, another fear has coiled around this one, the fear of not having enough time. Four months away from turning forty-eight, I have officially had my first menopausally-induced skipping of a period. Experiencing the disrupting symptoms of perimenopause has been enough to make me feel my age, to realize that I’m not going to live on this earth forever. But this recent development has made the fact even clearer.

It’s crazy, because I believe in heaven and I know it will be a much better place than here. But something inside me drives me to get done what I want to do as quickly as possible, because I will feel like a failure if I die before I get those critical tasks, goals, and dreams completed.

Uh-huh, “Welcome to everybody’s world, Em. Get a grip.”

I’m trying. In the meantime, I hope you understand why I can be such a bitch to my precious husband sometimes.

You’ve got mail!

So that was two days ago. Yesterday, both of us barely having recovered from my outburst from the day before, we were blindsided by a completely unexpected birth announcement that arrived in the mail.

It ripped open a wound in my soul I had thought was finally beginning to heal.

The announcement was from our twenty-ish niece. J’s brother’s daughter.

Get that? We were never told that our niece was pregnant!

I told J that it was official, his family has disowned us.

Now I need to back up to 2014, when they invited us down to their place for Thanksgiving. Long story short, number one, my SIL and I have always had a strained relationship. She doesn’t like me and I don’t like her. Every holiday, we played at being friendly to each other “for the sake of the family.”

Number two, while we were there either she or my BIL asked us where we were going to church. My honest reply was, “The Lord has led us out of the institutional church.” I felt my face heat as I said it, knowing what the reaction was going to be. In fact, we had been holding back that secret for the past three years because we both knew the announcement would bring an explosion.

“That’s not biblical!” SIL exclaimed.

I barely remember what happened between then and the time we left. She was all upset and doing her best to hide it, sure that we were on our way to hell.

They never invited us to another holiday get-together (not that I’m complaining). They never invited us to the new mommy’s high school graduation (which stung). Never informed us of anything else important going on with them or with our nieces.

We had become the black sheep, and were therefore to be disowned (ever notice how Christians are often the worst ones about following Jesus’ edict not to judge?). God forbid we come near their children and contaminate them with our evil ideas about Jesus coming to set us free, and about how He Himself hated religion.

So when that birth announcement came out of the blue…

Okay, so I’m sure her parents were totally ashamed that she wasn’t married when it happened. She might have been too, because of what she’s been taught. But we’re talking about a brother of one of her parents (J) for goodness’ sake! Seriously, you’re not going to tell your own brother that your daughter is pregnant?

No. Not if you’ve been disowned. (If I bet, I’d bet that our getting the announcement was our niece’s idea, not my SIL’s.)


Both of us were still reeling a bit from my sorry lack of self-control the day before, and when this piece of mail came, it stabbed in the gut. I had more than my fair share of words to say, and I said them. J stood by silently and nursed his wound without verbalizing his pain.

A little before supper time, I was so tired I had to lie down. J asked to join me. He needed a snuggle with me to feel better, he said.

So we snuggled together. Kissed some. Talked about our feelings.

And we both started to feel better. We both remembered, once again, that if we have nobody else we have each other.

A fact I need to keep in mind the next time I want to make J the brunt of my fear-based anger. It makes no sense to hurt the very one whose love and support you need to make it through the stings and wounds that life brings.


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