Week 15 – Watch out for hazardous materials!!

Hazardous Items – Ready to go!

This upcoming weekend the city we live in is having a hazardous waste removal drive.  I see this as my chance to clear all the hazardous things I can find from the house.  Entering the house, I make a beeline to the garage because I have to imagine there are so many hazardous things swimming around here.  As I walk in, it becomes clear that everything I need to get to is on the other side of the garage.  I start by clearing a walkway through the garbage so I won’t kill myself attempting to walk across all of the trash.  Having a clean path will make it easier to take things out as well.  I get rid of a bunch of newspapers and garbage that are in my way to start.  Then I come across a bunch of my father’s “organized boxes.”  These are normally filled with the most random things ever.  Magazines, papers, pencils, screws, tools, whatever you can imagine.  I have already found a few of these boxes so far and they are so annoying to organize because they are always a random hodgepodge.

I’m pretty sure my dad got this out of the dumpster in the first place. I definitely tried to get rid of this about 10 years ago. Now it’s GONE for good!

One box is filled with magazines so I put them in a bag to try to throw them out.  Of course my mother stops me and tells me they might be worth money.  I take the nice ones out and put the rest aside for now.  I will figure out if I’m really going to try to sell them at a later point.  Of course I get a call from my mother the following day stating that she went on ebay and saw some of the same types of magazines for sale for $12.  I double checked this and noticed that most of the magazines she was referring to didn’t actually have any bids and were never sold.  I went to the trunk to see what magazines I had left and realized that I ended up throwing out the bag of magazines by accident anyways.  Oops!  I don’t think anyone would want to buy these things since I had taken them from an area that was full of mice/squirrel feces.  Yuck!!

Old turpentine and paint stain cans

So, back to cleaning up!  After I got through that mess, I finally made my way to the other side of the garage where there were plenty of hazardous things for us to take out.  Yes, I am saying “us” because my mom actually helped me today.  She helped carry a lot of the garbage and hazardous items through the house!  I was shocked to find that the 15 or so paint and 6 turpentine cans were actually empty!!  My father used to paint doors on the side when he was involved in construction, so they were probably used for that.  That was about 20 years ago though!  I am happy to see they are empty because they will be much easier to dispose of!  We ended up pulling about 4 boxes of wood stain, paint, turpentine, and other random hazardous items out.

At one point my father was watching as I pulled out container after container of stuff and he commented “wow, that’s a lot of junk!  It used to be good, but now it’s a lot of junk!”  I looked at him annoyed and dumbfounded.  I responded “Yes, this is all of your junk!!!”  I shook my head and proceeded to go through more of his piles of crap.  We finally filled up my car and I left as quickly as possible.  I would have pictures, but I was a filthy mess and my mother was around the whole time so I couldn’t let her see me take any pictures!  I did snap a few pictures as I was waiting in the car for my mom on Saturday though.  Sorry for the poor quality!

Paint? We’ve got tons of it!!

Saturday (hazardous waste collection day) came around and I called my mother.  I said “hey mom, I’m coming to help bring stuff to the hazardous waste collection thing.”  She said she had already loaded up the car and was ready to go.  I told her I wanted to check out the house across the street for more stuff, so she told me not to take too long.  This is the same person who says she is coming over in 10 min and shows up 1 to 3 hrs later.  I head to my grandmother’s and grab a few things.  I also asked my mom if she got rid of the paint in the basement.  She acts like she doesn’t know what I’m talking about.  I go downstairs and find about 5 boxes of spray paint my father used for making die cast model cars.  I started packing paint away to take to the hazardous waste drive and my mom comes down.  She hurriedly states that some of the paint has never been used.  Mind you they have a sheen of dust over them, so they aren’t very desirable in their current state.  I ask her what she’s going to do with them and she says she is going to put them on freecycle.  Great, she got that excuse from me last week as I said we could get rid of some things from my grandmother’s house on there.  I throw as many cans in the box as possible (prob about 40 cans) and leave back another 40 or so as my mother is getting more and more annoyed.  At least I can say I tried.

2 Bags garbage

6 bags newspapers (2 mom)

8 bags paper

1 stuffed animal

15 empty paint cans

6 cans turpentine

4 boxes hazardous paint/stain/chemical cans

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What NOT to buy your favorite teacher (and a few things they may like)

My mother was a teacher for over 30 years and there are a few items you should probably think twice about buying for your teacher.  How did I come up with these items?  Looking quickly around my parents house, I found about 3 or 4 of each of these items, obviously unused.  Multiply that by 30 years, and you have a lot of unused gifts.  Below are some items that I recommend you avoid buying your favorite teacher:

  1. Anything that says “best teacher”  or has something to do with school or a classroom.  Yes, this is a nice gesture, but if she actually tried to put all the “best teacher” items around her house (or classroom when she had one), it would look a bit crazy.

A school box AND a mug. Great.. (I’m being sarcastic)

  1. Any type of potpourri.  Just say no!!

Potpourri!!!

  1. Candles.  Although, these actually sound nice, not everyone uses candles, and some are just plain UGLY.

Cute, but not for me..

  1. Mugs.  My mother doesn’t drink coffee or tea or anything that may go into a mug.  If anyone knew her well enough, they would figure this out.  Even if she did, she probably wouldn’t use half of the mugs she received.

Muggggsssss

  1. Picture frames, clocks, soap, or anything you might want to re-gift.  One can only have so many picture frames and places to put them.  Even an empty photo album will go to waste.  Too many different albums end up getting bulky and the teachers are so busy during the year, they probably won’t take the time to fill an album up when they get home!  Everyone has clocks in their house, I doubt they need more.  Soap may seem like a nice gesture since everybody needs soap right?  Well, this is a fairly common present, which adds up to a lot of soap.

Nope.. Thanks Anyways

  1. Anything with an apple.  I don’t know why an apple was chosen for teachers but enough with the apples.  Once again, if my mother filled her house with apple picture frames of every class she had, it would be overkill.

Multiple Apple pencil holders.. Two too many if you ask me!

So what should you get your teacher?  A photo book like a shutterfly photo album would be nice, a gift certificate to a department store like Macys or Target, or a gift certificate to a nice restaurant.  Anything relaxing, quiet, and without too many screaming, bratty kids!  If you still want to buy that nice mug or picture frame, try to imagine 10 of them in your house.  Would you want 10 mugs/candles/clocks for your home?  I doubt so!  Not everyone likes the same things that you like, so make the present meaningful and unique!

Now for a present I like:

Now this is cute!

Week 14 – On a roll…

Another Week, More piles!!

This week I went to my mother’s house and she didn’t have any newspapers for me.  I am not happy about this and now she will owe me 5 bags next week.  (2 for this week, 2 for next week and 1 extra bag since she didn’t have any for me.)  I also told her she would owe me $100 if she didn’t have them since this seemed to work last week.  It’s frustrating because my mom is doing the bare minimum to help clean up her own house.  I thought that since she had done so well some other weeks, she would try to achieve for more.  But instead she is practically giving up and it seems like she is almost trying to defy me.  It is frustrating because I show up and work my butt off every week.  I have a full time job and a busy social schedule outside of all of this, but I still find time to clean up their house, list items on ebay, and keep up with my blog.  Meanwhile, she spends two days a week at my brother’s house and takes my dad to the doctor once or twice a week.  Even though she has a significant amount of time on her hands compared to me, she can’t seem to find ten minutes to pack two bags of newspapers.  I have always known that my mother is horrible at time management, but maybe having too much time on her hands isn’t the best thing after all??

Plastic…

I let it go and head upstairs to the attic to continue digging away.  I was really excited leaving last week.  I felt like I actually accomplished something for once as I could actually see my progress.  Today my goal is to dig a path leading to a door that opens into a room under the eaves of the roof.  I had organized this area years ago so I am excited to have a nice organized space to work with.  I dig my way through and open door.  I am shocked to find the room to be filled to the brim and completely blocked!  I look in the boxes that are blocking the entrance of the doorway and they are filled with items from my grandmother’s house.  I start to dig around the boxes and find lots and lots of presents from when my mother was a teacher.  Now you might think your favorite teacher really wants that pretty wood apple pencil holder or an apple picture frame, but please don’t do it!

A slight roadblock..

I must have uncovered about 4 shopping bags full of gifts, all still in their boxes.  I put these aside for now and asked my mom to choose one item I could sell on ebay.  I started going through everything else in the back room of the attic.  I found a lot of plastic microwave containers that my mother was probably saving for school projects (this was always an excuse when I would try to get her to throw things away.)  Otherwise, I found lots of old clothes from the WHOLE family.  These are clothes from when my brother and I were smaller, clothes from my mom and dad, and my grandmothers and great aunt.  I was able to get a bag out this week for goodwill, so I’m happy with that.  It was a bit hard to get rid of some of my paternal grandmother’s clothes, she has been gone for 16 years and seeing some of the clothes brings back such nice memories of her.  I put them aside for now because I want to hold onto them for a little longer.  I know this isn’t helping the problem, but it’s only 1 or 2 items.

And more plastic!!

Going through the attic I also find an old computer and printer.  Mind you this is the same printer that I urged my mother to get rid of years ago when we bought them a new one.  My mother and I got into one of the biggest arguments about the printer because she seemed to think she would need it again in case the new one broke.  I also was able to throw away styrofoam from two old computer boxes that they hadn’t thrown away.  I have learned from prior weeks that I need to hide certain bags of paper and plastic from my mom so she won’t go through them before I remove them from the house.  I doubt there is anything in the bags that she would want.  It is so frustrating to watch her wasting time going through bags I spent so much time packing, it’s just easier if she doesn’t go through them.  She normally ends up taking out stupid things like coloring books or other papers that add to the mess downstairs.  In reality, she doesn’t need them and she will never use these papers she takes out.  If I take that step out of the process, it saves me time in the long run.  I let her go through the clothes for goodwill before I take them out and I leave.  I feel like I got pretty far, but I can’t believe how packed the back room is.  What a disappointment!!

This week:

No newspapers

1 bag paper

1 bag plastic

1 box Styrofoam

1 computer monitor

1 printer

1 large bag clothes

Week 13 – Oh hey, there’s a floor under all of this crap!!

Most people would consider the massive piles threatening to collapse and smother me every week as my biggest challenge through all of this.  After spending 3 months conquering pile after pile, I have to say that my mother is most definitely my biggest challenge.  She shocks and amazes me with her ridiculous behavior week after week.  I have to say we are working along better now than we have in the past, but old habits die hard.  She constantly drives me crazy and it’s even more annoying that I feel like HER mother.  For example, last week my mother had no newspapers for me.  Did she have an off week?  Maybe, I get it, some weeks you don’t want to do anything.  But if I don’t constantly harass my mother, she would do even less than she does now.  Even though, I am there every week working my butt off every week.  Do I get a thank you?  Ha, yeah right.  So it got to the point that I had to threaten her to get me four bags this week.  I walk into the house and I’m shocked to find three bags filled in the front hall with my mother diligently working to fill the fourth bag.  In addition, the bags were all filled to the brim with newspapers.  This is a big change because the bags are normally half filled or padded with other sorts of papers.  I don’t understand why my mom can’t find this motivation herself.  I am working so hard every week and I feel like she either is wasting my time by going through everything that I have already done, or she is being lazy and making me do all the work.  Obviously the psychology of hoarding makes it all more complicated than this, but it’s frustrating.

How I feel by the end of the day..

I decided to keep working on the attic this week.  The problem is that even though I got some garbage out last week, there is literally no room to move.  I started going through some boxes near the door so maybe I can actually open it next week instead of thrusting my weight onto the door and forcing myself into the room.  Some of the boxes were filled with old bills and others with old papers from when my mom was a teacher.  I decide to leave most of these things aside for now because it will take forever to sort through them.  As I start going through some of the plastic bags piled up near the door, I find lots of bags of garbage I had thrown out years ago while I was living in the house.  I used to get so upset because my mother would go through EVERYTHING I threw away.  It was a huge invasion of privacy then and it’s even more upsetting that all of it was stuffed away in a back room for years.  I’m just happy I can throw this garbage away once and for all!

At one point my mother tries to open the door but it barely opens because it is now blocked by items I’m trying to sort.  She freaks out and literally tries to break down the door with me sitting behind it.  I guess she thinks I’m trying to hide something.  I tell her to give me a minute as I clear a space so the door can open again.  Among some of the items I had found were coupons from 1989 and 1994 as well as old newspapers.  I’m guessing these were stowed away during a last minute Christmas cleanup.  I open another box as my mother is standing on the other side of me and I’m shocked to find that it is also filled with garbage!  My mother literally grabs one of the bags of garbage from the box and runs away with it.  I am hoping she is going through it downstairs to help me, but I never find the bag.  I am beyond frustrated at this!!  I decided to hide the bags she would want the most and put the other bags in the hallway for her to go through.  As I’m getting more bags ready to bring to my car I realize my mom has disappeared downstairs into the living room.  I walk in to find her sorting through a huge garbage bag filled with plastic items for recycling.  She is literally taking everything out and stacking it next to her.  I get upset and start grabbing things back from her and start putting them back in the bag.  She becomes affixed on an instruction booklet that she claims is for the clock in her bedroom.  Mind you she doesn’t even use her bedroom.  I make a point that she was able to live without the booklet for 10 plus years while it was hidden in the attic.  She wouldn’t have known it even existed if I didn’t take it out.  I tell her she still has a lot to get rid of and ask if the booklet is REALLY worth keeping.  In the end, she lets it go.  My father came into the room after hearing the commotion and helped urge her to stop going through everything as well.  Even after all the commotion with my mother, I feel like I made a dent today and I’m excited because I can see more of the floor in the attic!

As I have mentioned in the past, my parents own a few other properties in addition to their house.  This week I also made a visit to my family’s rental property.  This was bought about 20 years ago because my grandma was getting older and was living alone in the middle of nowhere.  My parents helped her sell that house and bought a two family house so my grandma could live closer to us.  She passed away 6 years ago and the lower rental unit has been sitting vacant ever since.  My mother still hasn’t cleaned out all of my grandmother’s old things and has also filled the house with items from my great aunt.  The house needs some big repairs after being left neglected for more than a few years.  I am here today because I had stopped by the day before to see how the house is doing and noticed a window broken on the garage door.  In addition the back door to our vacant rental unit was ajar.  This made me completely nervous and I was so happy my boyfriend was there to go through the house with me.  I don’t know how long the door has been open for or who has been going through the house, but I don’t think anything is missing.

The fact that people are going through this house makes it more imminent to get the house repaired and rented immediately.  I had a friend meet me there today to give me an estimate for new siding for the garage and new windows for the house (which have rotting sills and need to be replaced.)  The yard needs a lot of work and grandmother’s apartment needs a new kitchen.  Of course my mother wants to put next to no money into the place though they have the potential to make most of the money back within a year or two.  I am so frustrated with this situation and with my mother in general at this point.  I need to be careful or I am going to get burnt out very quickly.

This week

4 bags of newspapers from mom (2 from last week)

2 bags old coupons

1 bag old newspapers

1 large bag papers

1 large bag plastic

1 bag garbage

1 dustbuster

Misc. tins

Week 12 – Pickled and back to the grind

Pickles and relish and pickles, oh my!!

I’m back!!  After picking over 100 cucumbers from the garden and subsequently pickling 14 jars of pickles and 9 jars of relish, I think the cucumbers are almost gone.  I swear if I see another cucumber or pickle, I may scream.  Even though, I arrived at my parents house on Monday ready to go..  Unfortunately, my mother was ready for ME to go as soon as I walked in the door. Seeing I didn’t come by the house last week, I was hoping there would be at least two bags of newspapers waiting for me.  And as I have said before, there is always an excuse.  This week it was the fact that she had just arrived home from babysitting for my brother’s kids.  Yes, she does go twice a week and the kids are exhausting, but she definitely can find time to pack the newspapers throughout the week.  I said fine, but stated that she would owe me 4 bags the next week.  In addition, they would have to be filled with ALL newspaper (she likes to pad the bags with cardboard and other papers.)  My mother responded “FINE!!”  She had a defiant look on her face.  I responded “really??  really??  you are going to get me 4 bags of newspapers by next week?”  She responded “YES!  I will.”  Hmmm.. I don’t really trust my mom, but I know one thing she loves more than newspapers, money.  I told her that if she doesn’t get me the 4 bags of newspapers by next week, she would owe me $100.  Once again, she repeats “FINE!”  I still don’t believe her so I decide to make her pinky swear.  Mind you, this is the first time I have ever had to pinky swear my mother, but she was a kindergarten teacher, so she knows the power of a pinky swear.  Right??  We shall see how this works out..

After already getting down and dirty negotiating with my mother, I decided I didn’t want to get my hands dirty as well.  I avoided the garage and back patio and headed to the spare bedroom (aka. the attic.)  A few weeks ago I had mentioned to my mother that I sold a video set we got for free on ebay.  She also had a copy that I was hoping to sell.  I had seen it one of the previous times I was in the house, but it has now disappeared.  I’m a bit annoyed that my mother may have moved it, but there is more work to be done.  I ended up finding more items from my grandmother and great aunts houses.  I’m not even touching these boxes since I still have a pile of stuff in my own house to get rid of.  While standing in the attic, I am overwhelmed by piles teetering over me.  It’s hard to sort anything because I’m forced to put the items I’m sorting onto other piles.  I finally decide to clear off a dresser that has lots of random oddities piled on top from over the years.  Records, clothes, baby bottles, papers..  You name it!  I even found a book of real estate listings from the 1980’s that had my current apartment listed.

The Attic – View straight ahead

After clearing a small amount of space, I attempt to start organizing.  But it is very difficult as I am literally working with a 4×4 foot area directly behind the door.  I decided to work on getting as much garbage out as possible so I could have more room to work with next time I go in there.  As I am exiting the room, I am excited to find a few bags of coupons piled outside the door. These are easy to throw away but as I grab the plastic bags, I notice one of them is actually filled with old photos from my grandmother.  For someone who values the past so much, it’s ridiculous that my mother stores pictures and old coupons in the same manner.

The Attic – View to the right

In addition to my mother’s items, I have been coming across some of my dad’s boxes.  These are normally filled with the most random items ever.  Magazines, weird lists, pencils, pens, tools, shells, rocks, pieces of model cars, you name it.  You think I’m kidding, but these were all items found in one box!  It seems he was also very involved in the finances of his volleyball league as I found lots of checkbooks from almost 30 years ago!  I have to mention that while I was going through everything, my mother kept popping in to talk to me.  I’m guessing this was more to see what I was taking out of the house than the fact that she had pressing things she just HAD to tell me.  I made sure to run the bags she would be most interested in out of the house first and leave the other bags for her to survey.

The Attic – View to the left

Total for this week:
3 Bags coupons

1 bag paper

1 bag plastic

2 bags magazines

1 box egg cartons (containing about 20 egg cartons)