Thursday, May 28, 2015

KonMari- Kids' Toys 2015

First, a note: Please don't start with this category. Read the bottom of this post to see why.

So the KonMari book does not cover kids' stuff with any depth. Our kids, like many American kids, have too many toys. This despite the fact that Kevin and I have bought approximately 10 toys for the kids... combined. Everything else was a gift because we are blessed by people who love us and our kids. We are extremely appreciative, and we have never exchanged anything. If someone gave us something, our kids played with it.

But this happened:

Konmari- Toys 2015
Kids' Toys Part 1

Konmari- Toys 2015
Kids' Toys Part 2

Even with my toy-management tricks (more on that later) all of these toys became a full-time job. And now that Miranda is a year old, both kids have officially outgrown some stuff. So I waited until the kids were asleep because my kids are 4 and 1 and aren't quite old enough to make decisions regarding their stuff yet. If your kid is older, you might think about including them in the process- depending on the child's personality. Then I enlisted the help of my husband. Kevin had a few different opinions as to which toys he likes the children playing with, which he finds annoying, and even which toys he thought the children liked. All valuable input. 

We put all the toys on the guest bed and took out any that James isn't yet old enough for. Those went in a box I labeled, "James- Next Stage" and stored. Then we pulled out the toys that are too young/boring for James, but which Miranda is not mature enough for yet (this box had a lot of dolls) and labeled, "Miranda- Next Stage," and stored. Okay, two whole boxes out of the way.

Konmari- Toys 2015

We still had a lot of toys, puzzles, and drawing stuff. So we divided the toys into KEEP- MAYBE-NO. Our criteria was:

1) Does my child enjoy this toy? (Does it spark joy for him?) If no--> NO pile.

If yes--> 2) Do I hate this toy so much that I still want to throw it out (usually involved toys that were worn out, had a million annoying pieces, choking hazards, or talking toys with no off switch)

If we hated it--> No pile. If we liked it or could tolerate it out of love for our child --> YES pile. 

Konmari- Toys 2015
Pile of yes toys!

So we obviously still had too many! Enter my Toy Management System. I use a bunch of Ikea fabric boxes and plastic tubs to divide the toys. Puzzles and drawing stuff gets their own boxes.  All the other boxes have a mix of James and Miranda toys. I take out one such mixed box and leave it out for about 3 days. They play with the toys enthusiastically. After about 3 days I put the box away and take out a new box and they act like I just bought them a box of new toys.

This is because kids have kind of poor memories. Giving the toys a rest makes them new again. This is also why trying to talk a kid into donating a toy that "he hasn't played with in a long time" usually fails. The other good thing about my system is that if a toy is "like new" and she still doesn't play with it, then I can safely assume it's because she actually doesn't like it. Also, because each box only has about 20 toys in it, clean up at the end of the day is much easier.

Konmari- Toys 2015
All the boxes that are hidden in my living room
(not pictured/not in living room: puzzles, drawing stuff, easel, and
toy car which we currently keep in the office/playroom)

Konmari- Toys 2015
What the living room looks like with all the hidden boxes (in Ikea bookshelf)

* Note: 
    I really don't think you should start with this category, or any category that involves stuff that belongs to other people. If you start with your own clothing, as Kondo suggests, you not only get a reduction in stress from not dealing with the stuff you don't like, but also an increase in joy from seeing only the things that you love. 
    You don't love other people's stuff, and you only have limited control over how they treat it or put it away. Starting with this category is likely to lead to disappointment because you will still have a lot of toys, you don't love those toys, and every time things seem messy you might feel like KonMari failed. 
    Whereas, if you attack it after you have done your own stuff, you will already be a believer; you will already be surrounded by what you love in your spaces. The toys can be a less-than-perfect cherry on top. And I think the kids will learn best from seeing how you take care of your own things.
Any other kid toy problems I can help with?

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Jon's 35th Birthday in Boston 2015

Kevin and Jon drove up to Boston for Jon's 35th birthday and met up with Casey and Jon's brothers-in-law that live in Massachusetts. They ate many dinners, watched a Red Sox game from the Green Monster, and drank beer until it hurt. Yay! Happy birthday, Jon!

Jon's 35th in Boston 2015
Casey, Kevin, and Jon at Fenway

Jon's 35th in Boston 2015
Just casually leaning against this bar

Jon's 35th in Boston 2015
Jon stopped by to say hi to the little ones too

Thursday, May 21, 2015

David and Melanie Get Engaged! 2015

Finally! David and Melanie started dating in December of 2005, about 8 months before I met Kevin, and when David was only 17 years old. At the time, I was in law school so I didn't come home very often. David would sometimes come by and see me at our Grandmother's place when I was home for holidays or in the summer.

But I didn't meet Melanie until after Kevin and I moved to New York. By then, they had been dating 3 years, and we had the sense that it was a serious relationship. When we met her we understood why. Kevin and I immediately began talk of "locking her down" lest she get away. Haha.

David and Melanie Visit 2009
Hanging out in Brooklyn, a few months after we moved to New York

We totally broke our "significant others" rule for Melanie at our wedding (engaged or living together). Luckily, no one busted us at the time.

At our wedding in Cape Cod with Grandma Daisy, June 2009

They were still really young when we moved to New York so it was tricky to go out. Then David turned 21! The party was on!

David's 21st Birthday 2009
Partying it up at David's 21st Birthday, November 2009

Oh, but, fail, I got pregnant less than a year later in July of 2010. But they were awesome even as Kevin and I grew progressively less awesome (and I grew bigger too). Melanie even came to my babyshower which was so nice.

Clou Baby Shower 2011
Melanie and Grandma Daisy at my baby shower in 2011

Easter 2011
Meeting James, Easter 2011

For a while there, Kevin and I thought we were becoming fun again. We threw parties! We took turns going to the city! We even sometimes did double dates!

11.11.11 Party
Cuban cuddle, sorry Irishman, 11-11-11 Party

James's 1st Birthday Party 2012

Hoboken with David & Melanie 2012
Double date in Hoboken, August 2012

Yeah, then we got pregnant again in 2013. But I am told we are done having babies? So we promise to be fun again! And not just at our children's birthday parties.

Alonso Family Visit 2014
When Miranda was born, April 2014

  Family Visit 2015
Random visit, January 2015

  1st and 4th Birthday Party 2015
James's and Miranda's birthday, April 2015 (hi Ash!)

Maybe on some level, I sensed it was coming because before the kids' birthday party, I moved David and Melanie's picture (from 2009) from on top of our bookshelf to our family wall where we have our grandparents' wedding pictures. It was a total cheat because they weren't even engaged yet, but it just seemed like the right place all of a sudden. 

But then when I met with David for happy hour a few weeks ago he suggested that maybe he had a time in mind to propose and he was super vague about it. I guessed December 2015 during their 10th dating anniversary, but he said, no he wasn't really thinking that, and I thought, geez, this is going to take forever.... oh I was super wrong! And I'm so glad.

He proposed 10 days later. David proposed at sunrise on May 18, 2015 on the Summit of Haleakala National Park in Maui at an elevation of 10,023 feet. He planned it so that their closest friends and most of her family was there to watch. Wow! 

David Proposes to Melanie 2015

So there it is, Kevin and I are getting a new awesome sister, and James and Miranda are getting a new aunt! Not sure if I'm more excited for David or for us!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

KonMari- Kids' Clothes 2015

This is not a post about how to fold kids' clothing the KonMari way. In fact, for reasons I'll explain at the bottom, I don't even necessarily recommend doing that to your kids' clothes. This is about how to manage an excess of kids' clothes. Think of it as a warm up for toys.

The reason we have too much kids' clothes is because when we had James, we hoped we'd have a second child so we saved all his clothing to pass down to his theoretical sibling. They were three years apart (exactly) so we had three years of extra clothes that didn't fit anyone. Plus then we had a girl so we also got gifts and girl hand-me-downs.

But I think the main reason we had so much was that there are A LOT of baby sizes. So once a child is 2 years old, they go up a size every year. This is reasonable. But from birth to two years they go through approximately 12-13 different sizes. For those of you not in the know, they are: newborn, 0-3 months, 3 months, 3-6 months, 6 months, 6-9 months, 9 months, 9-12 months, 12 months, 12-18 months, 18 months, 18-24 months, and 2T. Thank goodness for 2T!

I cannot emphasize enough what torture all these sizes are. Especially because no one in the universe seems to understand the hyphenated sizes. So for example, if your child is in "9-12 months" that means that she has outgrown size 9 months and it won't fit her anymore, though size 12 months will often fit. It does not mean, as most people assume, that she can wear both size 9 months and size 12 months.

And oh okay, one more wrench, seasonal clothing. You might have a beautiful 9-12 months sundress you are dying to put your baby but if it's snowing out, that's probably not going to happen.

KonMari- Kids Clothes 2015
Step 1: Took everything out of storage and drawers.

First off, I did this at night while the kids were asleep. You can't do anything when children are awake, especially something like this. I split everything up by size, regardless of gender or season. Notice the stickies on different parts of my couch with 12-18 months, 18 months, 18-24 months. I started with the largest sizes. I packed a box of things that were still too big for James. Things that were the right size for him went into his room even if it was out of season because the seasons are changing right now.

KonMari- Kids Clothes 2015
Step 2: Sort by size. Seen here: 12-18 months.

KonMari- Kids Clothes 2015
Step 2: 18 months, 18-24 months

Then I went through 3T and 2 T since no one will be wearing those for a while. I mostly just checked that everything was in good condition, folded it, and boxed it.

KonMari- Kids Clothes 2015
The big stuff is packed and waiting for 2016.

Finally, the hard part, stuff that Miranda will grow into soon, or that fits her now but is out of season. I tried to do my best here, but it's pretty tough. I reduced the number of boy things when I saw she had enough girl things in the size/season. Toddler clothes is ridiculously gendered. I try to let Miranda rock the dinosaur shirts as much as I can, but even the cut of the shirts is different for boys and girls. It's super mean to parents. Anything she couldn't use just yet I packed, but I'm keeping it most accessible in our attic. Everything that both children have outgrown but that was in good condition was donated to the Boys and Girls Club.

KonMari- Kids Clothes 2015

Why I don't particularly care about folding kids' clothes the KonMari way:

May 2015 
Miranda unfolds the KonMiranda way.

Remember, this is just the warm up for the hard one: kids' toys!

  • KonMari- Kids Toys!!
  • KonMari- Your Clothes
  • All my other KonMari posts
  • Saturday, May 16, 2015

    KonMari- Komono 2015

    Komono is KonMari's word for miscellaneous items. She breaks it down a little, but really you just have to sort of walk around collecting like items. For the most part, I do keep like stuff together, but I definitely had some spare bath items in the guest room for guests, and I had office stuff in several places.

    Before I even read this book I had already cleaned out all the junk in the bathroom. Our junk drawer had mostly stuff we used. But I went back and threw out some more stuff out of the bathroom. My make up is now just the bag I use everyday plus a few extra lipsticks. The extra guest stuff is just a few items people might actually use. Anything that was really old and probably expired I threw out.

    KonMari- Komono 2015
    Guest basket

    On another day I looked for extra items in the kitchen. We still have too many wine and champagne glasses, but we do break them sometimes, so for now we'll keep some extra. The pantry only took like 3 hours although they were a very tiring 3 hours, so that's all I did that day. The pantry was full of surprises and excess! I did most of the office the day I did paper, but I should probably revisit that.

    KonMari- Komono 2015
    Improved pantry.

    Some of the random stuff is not mine, but Kevin's. I tried to just sort of push them together so they looked better, but sometimes, I casually mentioned them to Kevin. I stressed that he did not have to get rid of anything, but sometimes he did reduce a little here and there if it didn't spark joy.

    I need to go through each room again looking for the random stuff, but for now, I'm a little bored with komono. I know I have a lot of stuff in the mementos and photos category so I'm working on that now.

    In the meanwhile, the next two posts are KonMari- Kids' Clothing and KonMari- Kids' Toys. I know that a lot of you are especially lost with those. Feel free to post questions so I can answer them. Not that I'm an expert obviously, but I've wrestled with the problem and come up with some solutions that work for us.

    Thursday, May 14, 2015

    KonMari- Paper 2015

    Paper... I suspect that most people embarking on KonMari do their clothes and then get stuck. I base this theory on the plethora of youtube videos about KonMari and clothing and lack of videos on the other categories. But maybe it's because paper is kind of boring? When I got to paper, I thought: this is easy! I already have a little file box of important papers, and I'll rip through Komono (miscellaneous) easily.

    Um no, the box itself was hard because super important papers were mixed with papers I didn't need. And also, boring. Then I went around the house looking for more in the way Kondo advises for clothing. I had a file cabinet full of a mix of papers and mementos. I had work papers on my desk and under my desk. I had desk supplies that were technically "Komono" but since they were right there I couldn't resist. I reduced as much as could but in the end I got tired.

    Note: Don't mix up "papers" and "mementos." This was a little tricky for me, but a lot of the paper I was keeping wasn't for the business of life, but rather a keepsake. Move that to the mementos category.

    Konmari- Papers 2015
    Papers (plus) on the way out

    I didn't organize things exactly the way Kondo recommends, but I tried to employ the spirit with fewer file categories. I might yet switch to her system but for now this is working. My home office is not experiencing the level of zen that my bedroom is experiencing, but there's a huge improvement, and I can easily find everything that's actually important in the one file box. We're getting rid of the empty (very old, broken, and heavy) file cabinet too. And I think James will get the large plastic drawers I used for office supplies for his closet when I redo his room.

    Wednesday, May 13, 2015

    KonMari- Dad's Books 2015

    My other problem was that I had kept about 26 boxes of my dad's books after he passed away. After 4 years, I had still reduced or read very few of them. I had tried just looking through them, getting a friend to help (hi Ash!), and finally doing one author letter at a time. The last strategy was going a little better... but still really slow.

    Enter Marie Kondo. In three days, the books I chose to keep are in three bookshelves, and hundreds of books that I would not have ever read were donated. I was shocked how much clarity I had in the book selection after 4 years of being totally confused. When I look at the bookshelves they spark joy! I want to read the books, and the arrangement reminds me of being at home and visiting my dad.

    April 2015
    Suddenly I have clarity on my dad's books! Donate! Donate!

    Konmari- books-001 
    Less than half the number I started with, but still, admittedly, a lot.

    Okay, we still have a lot of books. We probably always will. But when I look at them they make me happy now in a way they did not before. They don't stress me or make me feel guilty. They make me look forward to pulling the next adventure off the shelf.

    KonMari- Books 2015

    Oh my gosh, we had a major book problem! That's over now!

    No, it's not. So let's start with me: I had books from childhood, college, graduate school, and law school. I thought I had gotten rid of most of the books from childhood and college but when my dad passed away I discovered that my parents had actually put a lot of my books in storage. (Storage, by the way, is the world's most evil form of money-waste. I mean you guys have seen those reality shows where people bid on other people's storage lockers right? So very depressing.)

    But just to obfuscate my problem a little, Kevin and I had combined our books. Now under the KonMari system, Kevin has a special book dispensation. He's a creative writing professor so books are his job, hobby, and passion. That means that Kondo believes that it is totally legitimate for him to keep more books than the rest of us should keep.

    March 2015
    Before: Kevin and I had our combined fiction books here
    (not pictured: nonfiction and poetry)

    So the first thing I did was un-combine our books. I had him double check before I got rid of anything, and he found a book I didn't know was mine, and he rescued a few that were actually his. There were some books that we both owned but hadn't been reduced when our libraries were combined because there were different translators or notes in the books.

    KonMari- Books 2015
    Kevin's fiction books after I took mine out- not a big difference! (Nonfiction equally huge.)

    I did my books pretty quickly because I was so excited after clothing. The measurement is still if the book sparks joy. If it's your favorite book and you reread it regularly- keep it! If you just love looking at the cover on your shelf- keep it! If you've been meaning to read for years but haven't, sorry, set the book free so someone else can read it. If you read it, and you're done with it, thank it, and send it on to its next home.

    I got my fiction to about 70 and my nonfiction to about 20 books to keep, and 25 to force myself to read before donating. Since my original purge, I've gotten rid of a few more that I realize do not bring me any joy, so it's still a work in progress.  But I'm happy with how little space they take up currently, and that they're all in one place. In a perfect world though, my bookshelf would be closer to a list of my favorite books: We Were Flying to Chicago, The End of the Affair, Gilead, A Brief History of Time, a few others, and of course, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

    Books 2015
    All my books after (except the to-read pile on my night table)

    Confession time: I broke the KonMari rules and kept a bunch of books I have not yet read, but since then I've been actually reading them. They are sitting next to my night table and I read them (or at least confront them) daily.

    KonMari- Books 2015
    Books I am currently reading or re-reading before I decide their fate (1 borrowed).

    Okay, so then, my other big problem was that I had kept about 26 boxes of my dad's books after he passed away.... but this is a much trickier situation because the books are part "books" category and part "mementos" category. So I'll save that for the next post.


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