Week 18 – Bonding Over Vegetables

 

 

So I’ve found a bonding point with my mother; vegetables.  Who would have known, right? She planted 9 cucumber plants earlier in the summer and they have been sprouting everywhere!  Unfortunately she isn’t very diligent about picking them immediately, so we’ve had some pretty large cucumbers which are harder to pickle.  Yes, we have so many; I decided to start pickling them.  Why would one person plants 9 cucumber plants you ask?  Well last year she only planted about 2 and she claimed she only got one or two cucumbers out of them, so she didn’t want to be disappointed again this year.  The weather was perfect for growing them this summer, so they took off.  I normally take a walk to the garden with my mother when I first get to the house.  I feel like this breaks the ice a bit and makes my mother ease up a bit more.  That means less tension between us, which is always good!!

I was pleasantly surprised as I walked in my house because my mother actually had two bags of newspapers packed and ready to go.  She also had another bag of papers ready for me.  Unfortunately, this was a bag she took away from me when I was there last week.  She claimed that she “had to go through them”.  I’m not sure what she took out of the bag, but I’m guessing half of the contents are now on one of the piles downstairs.  When walking into the attic room, it’s always hard to actually get into the room because there are a few boxes of papers located behind the door.  I can only open it half way, which makes it harder taking things out since I can barely fit myself through the door.  When I had first looked into some of the boxes behind the door, there seemed to be a lot of bills and old bank statements.  These are too much work to go through and my mom is really touchy with throwing these sorts of things away.  Therefore I had put them aside for another day.

Well, today is that day!  I decided to go through one of the larger boxes which was sitting on the side.  I really had no clue what I might find but was happy that most of it ended up being junk mail.  Why would someone save junk mail you ask?  I have no clue, but the mail was still in their envelopes and she wrote on each envelope to identify what they were.  These were mostly for museum memberships, auto insurance, and other random offers.  Obviously the whole box was easy to throw away since everything was from about 20 yrs ago.  Of course my mother freaked out when she saw that I was throwing them away.  She tried to make some excuse about needing them.  I smiled at her, nodded, and continued to throw the envelopes away.

After going through the junk mail, I decided to tackle one more box before I left.  I ended up finding my school papers from 5th grade.  Yup, 5th grade, that was almost 20 years ago.  Most people would probably love to find some of their old papers from school.  I could see this, but trust me, it gets old quickly.  I have to say it was actually fun going through some of my old papers.  Then there are more papers and more papers.  It’s nice to see one or two book reports, but it gets old quick after you go thorough every paper you ever submitted from the entire school year.  It was time for them to go!  I was never a good student anyways.  Therefore there is no need to re-live my sub-par work more than once!!

In addition to the papers, I was able to pick up an old car vacuum.  My mother though it might still work.  There is always an excuse for hoarders, so I had her take it out to the cars and test it.  Thank goodness it didn’t work because she wouldn’t have used it anyways.  There was also an old children’s shopping cart of mine that had been sitting in the hallway since I started this process.  The plastic is so old it’s pretty much fallen to pieces.  My mother had put it aside for my dad to fix, but that obviously never happened.  I finally looked at it today and convinced her it was time to go.  She was happy because we have pictures of me using it when I was younger and that seemed suitable enough.  Was that my mother using a bit of common sense?  Shocking!!

*The additional toys and items were from my mother’s classroom when she was a kindergarten teacher.

This week:

1 box papers
2 bags newspapers from mom
1 bag papers
1 telephone
1 car vacuum
1 children’s shopping cart
3 metal cookie tins
8 cardboard boxes
2 bags dolls
1 bag garbage
8 batteries
1 little tikes house
1 little tikes pirate ship
1 tea kettle
1 box clothes
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Week 17 – More boxes of crap?? What a surprise!!

This week I got to my parent’s house and was surprised to see my mother wasn’t home.  My father said she was up at my brother’s house feeding the cats.  I am happy to hear this because I can take some time to get some cleaning done downstairs.  I quickly walk around and take a handful of newspapers from each pile.  I was easily able to fill two paper bags and I don’t feel like you could notice that I took anything from the piles (obviously this is bad because I didn’t even make a dent, but good because my mom won’t notice).  I wasn’t sure when my mother would be home and if she would look into my car, so I hid the bags in the recycling bin outside.  I then looked around and realized that my mother hadn’t even taken the presents that we had gotten them for mothers and fathers day out of the bag.  I put the “too big” compost bin on the counter and threw away the milk cartons she had been using for that purpose.  I then took out the new phone we bought them and set that up.  It all took about 10 minutes and made a bit of space in the front hallway.  My father was very eager to help me which was nice.  Unfortunately my mom was upset I hadn’t gone through the messages on the old answering machine.  I told her the old phone was upstairs if she would like to grab the old messages.  I don’t think she’s even thought twice about it since.

I finished downstairs and proceeded to go back to the attic where I have been slaving away for a few weeks now.  I came upon a box of old children’s clothes and decided to start by finding all the pants where the elastic had gone bad.  This normally eliminates half the box.  We have found a few recycling centers for clothes nearby so we won’t have to throw these away.  This makes me feel a bit better because we have a LOT of old clothes that don’t seem to be suitable for donation because they are ripped, soiled or the elastic has gone bad.  I find some boxes from my father again.  I still can’t believe how much my father loves to jumble lots of random things into boxes.  These seemed to be from 1981 and contained items from his old job as a computer programmer and random items that have been sitting there since 1980.  Overall, there are a lot of magazines that will ultimately go to recycling.

I finally condense 4 boxes down to 2 and I’m happy with this.  I have finally cleared my way to another closet that is off the far side of the room.  This leads into another area under the easement of the roof towards the front of the house.  I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was greeted by more boxes as I opened the door.  These were filled with kitchen supplies and personal things from my grandmother’s house.  I let out a big sigh.  I try to do my best getting some stuff out of this back room, but I still have piles of crap at my own house so most of these things will stay for now.  I have been adamant about not bringing anything else into my home unless I can either post it on ebay immediately or I actually want it.  I take a few things out of the boxes for myself and try to get as much garbage out as I can.  Overall, it was a successful night, but extremely frustrating.  Every time I feel like I am making a tiny bit of progress, I am faced with another wall of boxes.

My mother still managed to make me angry because she didn’t have any newspapers for me.  Her excuse for this is because I came on a Monday instead of Tuesday and she “wasn’t expecting me.”  She left me alone for most of the night, but zeroed in on a bag of my father’s old papers that I had bagged up.  I looked out into the hallway and there were literally papers everywhere as she was taking everything out of the bag.  I got quite upset that she was going through every single paper after I had already done this.  I made the point that she didn’t have any newspapers for me this week.  She could be helping me by packing newspapers but instead she is wasting her time on double checking something I have already done.  I’m not sure if it got through to her, but I have been thinking of putting up a white board up so she has tasks to complete every week.  I really feel like I am dealing with a child, but I don’t know what else to do or how to motivate her.  I made the point that if she actually bagged a bunch of newspapers up every week, I wouldn’t have room in my car to take anything else.  Therefore she wouldn’t have to worry about me going through her stuff.  Wishful thinking!

This week:

Computer Speakers

Bag of metal hangers

Bag of plastic hangers

2 bags of newspapers (me)

2 bags of paper

1 bag cardboard

1 bag garbage

1 box of mugs for goodwill

Week 16 – Clothing, boxes, and coupons.. Oh my!!

Books for donation

Last week was quite fun nearly killing myself in the garage.  So now I’m going back to cleaner pastures back upstairs.  I have decided to start wearing a dust mask since I have gone home feeling absolutely horrible every week after I’m in the house.  My nose starts running immediately when I walk in and I can’t imagine the air I’m breathing is healthy.  I also had a weird musty/woody smell affixed to me that would NOT go away after working in the garage, so I’m avoiding that area for now.  I’m guessing I will also have to wear gloves in the future when working with the dirtier items.

While I was at my parent’s house over the weekend for the hazardous waste drive, I decided to spend a little extra time digging further into the attic room.  As I was rumbling through the room I was shocked when my mom asked if I wanted a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch.  Um, what?  I thought this could be a ploy to distract me, but in the end it was a nice and welcome surprise.  I guess she doesn’t hate me as much as I thought.  Either way, spending the extra hour or so helped because I was able to organize a bunch of items for later in the week.  I figure it will cut down the amount of time I spend going through things and I can basically go in, load my car up, and leave.  I was surprised to find more bags of coupons and cardboard boxes for almost anything we ever bought as children.  I basically spent most of my time breaking down boxes!

I went back later in the week and as always, as soon as I walked in the attic room, my mother comes upstairs.  She asks “so what are you doing today?”  I respond “same thing as always, mom.”  Surprisingly, she actually helped me carry everything downstairs today.  I think this is more so she can see what I’m taking out than actually wanting to help though.  I have learned to hide certain bags from her and take them out to my car quickly so she can’t go through them.  I got caught this time as she asks “what did you take to the car that you didn’t want me to see?”  I had to laugh a little at the fact that I was caught.  I explained that it was all paper and I didn’t want her to see it because she would have gone through everything and it’s frustrating after I spend so much time going through it to begin with. 

Clothes for Goodwill! I don’t think any of these clothes were actually ours.. Hmm..

As I go through these extra rooms, I am still surprised when I find bags and bags of clothes.  I have come to the realization that we have so many clothes in the house.  Since we were younger, there have always been 3 big boxes of clothes stacked at the top of the steps.  They make it so hard to get stuff out of the attic room, so I decided to take one into the other room and go through it.  Most of the clothes with elastic in them are so old that they are no good.  This is almost a relief as I don’t have to fight about getting rid of them with my mother.  She helped go through the box with me and was happy to separate the  clothes for recycling.  Unfortunately, I don’t think any will be good candidates to sell since they have been sitting in boxes for almost 25 years and smell like cardboard.  I ask her to help me get bags of clothes out for goodwill and she helps me sort two bags, so I’m happy with this.

The boxes of clothes at the top of the stairs. They are frayed at the edges from our cats used to scratch them. And yes, those are bags and bags of napkins sitting on top. Why? I don’t know

A few weeks ago I exclaimed that there is one thing my mother loves more than newspapers.  That is money.  I had made her pinky swear that she would owe me $100 if she didn’t have 4 bags for me the following week.  I was really happy when she kept up with her side of the deal and delivered 4 bags the following week.  Unfortunately, I have had problems getting newspapers consistently from her since then.  I figured I would try the bet once again.  This time she would owe me 6 bags or $100.  I had high hopes since she was able to follow through with this a few weeks ago.  I was quite disappointed when I asked and she only had one bag for me.  She stated that she felt overwhelmed by the thought of 6 bags and said it wasn’t a good way to motivate her.  I guess its back to the drawing board!  Overall, I was happy because I was able to take a box of old books, a bag of misc. papers, a new kids on the block poster, some small rugs, tin cans, a bag of plastic, and a bag of styrofoam out.

This week

Cardboard boxes – (27)

1 bag newspapers (mom)

1 large bag papers

3 bags coupons

1 nkotb poster

1 bag garbage

2 small rugs

1 bag tin cans

1 bag plastic

1 bag styrofoam

For Donation:

1 box books for the library

2 bags clothes for goodwill

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)

Week 11 – We’re heading outdoors!!

The back patio AFTER I cleaned it up a bit this week..

Before I headed back to work in the house, I had to get some dirt off the compost pile so I could plant some flowers on my balcony this weekend.  I was more than ready to go back to work in the garage, but the back patio caught my eye.  As soon as I walked by the porch I ran over, grabbing a bunch of planing trays for recycling.  My mother started to freak out and took the trays out of my hands.  She claimed that they weren’t clean yet, so I couldn’t take them for recycling.  I argued back and forth with her for a while and tried to start cleaning them myself.  In the end, it wasn’t worth the fight.  I didn’t want to have the wet plant trays in my car and there was so much junk everywhere I looked.  Even without the plant trays, I had enough items to fill my car tenfold.  As I started to uncover more and more layers, I couldn’t believe what was back there.  Multiple filing cabinets, old soccer balls, empty mulch bags, propane tanks, paper, the list goes on and on.  Every time I picked up something there was more of a mess underneath it.  I guess there was no more room inside the house??

A filing cabinet and other items that have been left outside for years

Even though I removed a car full of stuff, there is still a lot back there including a lawnmower, another filing cabinet, wires, and kids toys that my parents either found on the side of the road or at the recycling center.  I’m guessing the toys were supposed to go to the grandchildren, but haven’t made it there yet!  I tried to take the kids toys for Goodwill, but those weren’t clean yet either.  Right.  Enough of that!  Going back inside the house, my mother only had one bag of newspapers filled.  Actually, I’m being nice when I say it was actually filled.  I walked over to a pile of coupons that were obviously expired and again my mother freaked out because she wanted to look at the ads for items you can order by mail.  Mind you, my mother has NEVER ordered anything from any one of these ads EVER.  She quickly produced two more piles of papers to add to the bag of newspapers.  So amazing that she can jump out with more papers out of thin air, but she couldn’t fill the bag for me ten minutes earlier.  I grabbed some cardboard food boxes(cereal/microwave food/snack boxes) from around the room to fill another grocery bag up.  I also added some magazines from the floor when she wasn’t looking.  Overall, she was NOT happy!  In the end I was able to push her out of her comfort zone and help her get rid of some things she didn’t want to part with in the first place.  Success!!

Old balls anyone?

This week:

1 bag of newspapers

1 bag of other cardboard

5 assorted soccer balls

15 empty mulch bags

1 filing cabinet

1 planting trough

plastic planting trays

1 bag garbage

Assorted plastic

2 small propane tanks

Week 10 – What am I going to do with all of this sh!t?!?!

My challenge for this week: The garage. This picture was taken after I have removed 16 bags of newspapers in the past few weeks!!

I woke up this week and took a good look around my own house.  I became angry with myself as I realized that I have brought home more of the hoard than I’m comfortable with.  I have sorted through everything that has come into my house, but I really need to start getting rid of things.  I don’t want to bring anything back to my parents house whatsoever, even though I’m going to have to at some point.  We have inherited some items that we would like to keep, but my little house doesn’t have the storage space for any of it.  In the mean time, I would like to get rid of some of the items my mom has agreed to part with.  Therefore, I have joined the world of selling on Ebay!!  I figured I would begin with an easy item so I sold a video I received for free when I went to see a talk show being taped.  I didn’t pay for it, so I wouldn’t mind if it didn’t make too much money.  I don’t know if you have ever tried to sell anything on Ebay, but these stupid auctions take forever.  A week seriously feels like a year!!  I “patiently” eyed my Ebay listing about 5 times a day (at least) hoping someone would bid on it.  It sold the first time around and I actually earned a good amount of money after all the fees.  This might be a good thing after all because I can also get rid of junk around my own home!!

Upon entering my parents house, I decided to head to the garage.  It looks like they threw a lot of garbage in here, so I should be able to get rid of everything immediately.  Nothing to go into my own house!  Upon entering the garage, I immediately noticed a bag or two that were covered in urine.  I also saw some nuts and animal droppings near a box of cracker jacks that was opened and eaten.  I alerted my mother to this and she didn’t seem bothered by it at all.  I on the other hand am grossed out and really bothered by this.  I keep picturing a rabid animal jumping out at me every time I move a bag.   I am also convinced I will find a dead animal sooner or later.  I cleared out some garbage and a bunch of newspapers and it actually looks like I’m finally making a dent!

Before leaving I grabbed a bunch of old shampoos, lotions, and fragrances from my bathroom.  It has been 5 years since I lived here, some of these items might still be good and it will save me a trip to the drugstore!  Yes, this does count as bringing things into my house but I’m going to use anything that is still good and recycle the rest.  I look at it as saving money, so it’s OK (and it was mine in the first place.)  My mother was definitely watching over me this week, but I don’t think she’s too worried about anything from the garage.  I asked if she wanted to donate any towels to the veterinary hospital as I eyed a pile of about 20 towels neatly stacked in my bathroom closet.  She said she had to see which ones my dad uses before I could take any.  There is always an excuse!!  Oh well, I tried!

Tally this week:

10 Bags of newspapers from garage

2 Bags of newspapers from mom

4 bags of garbage