Compulsive hoarding is a mental disorder that is just beginning to be understood. As a hoarder, I have acquired things over the years with a specific purpose in mind at the time of the acquisition, used some of those items for their intended purposes, forgotten the goal for different objects, but now that I find that they have outlived their purpose in my life I am struggling to rid myself of those same things.

You can read the start of my journey here.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Scooter finally went back to school this week after having been sick all last week, and Hopper started her day program again, so I am trying to get back into a routine. It's been easier said than done, but then again, it's also only been 2 days. And I'm trying to do the caffeine withdrawal thing again, without much success. I can't seem to do an extended hospital stay for the girls without getting hooked on soda again. I think it's because I'm afraid to sleep at the hospital, because I'm afraid the nurses will miss something I might catch. 

I know. 

I'm a control freak.

A control freak who's addicted to caffeinated pop once again.

It could be worse. I could be drinking a 6 pack or a 2 liter bottle a day, but I'm drinking less than half that. The rough thing is that I'm not sure, if I am going to try to get it out of my system before I get through my mountains of paperwork or not. It is what it is. I either will, or I won't, and I'm not going to stress over it.

The paperwork, on the other hand, is a totally different monster. I will be stressing over it until I get it finished, and I've got to get it done as quickly as possible.

Well, that's not entirely true. 

I just need to find the girls' birth certificates and social security cards. So if I find them, I can take a breather from the rest of the paperwork, if I need to.

So I worked through some really rough boxes tonight. I only got through two of them, and although I feel accomplished, it wasn't easy. Although the first box was easier than the second.

The first box had an assortment of paperwork. There was everything from old water bills to telephone bills that spanned several years, and bank receipts. It also held old hospital and doctor receipts as well as school papers, art projects and notes from each of the girls.

It was fairly easy to sort. If the art projects didn't have a name on them, and I couldn't tell who had done them, I tossed them. I saved some of the hospital and doctor bills/notes, if they had vital information on them, so I can scan them. For the most part, things were either thrown in the trash into the shredables, and almost all of the few things I saved will be scanned and then tossed.

I have to admit I felt pangs of guilt when I saw some of Hopper's papers in there. The school papers that I decided not to save weren't really the issue. It was the pages upon pages of her notebook papers that I threw that gave me pause. While I was going through them, to make sure there wasn't anything I was going to keep, I pictured her as a little girl piling all her special papers that she was so very proud of on top of Mom and Dad's piano stool.

For a moment or two I physically felt the same panic I used to feel when I would pick her papers up and put them in a box to hide them from her. I always felt guilty picking the papers up and taking them away from her when she wasn't looking, but if I hadn't we'd have had papers piled to the ceiling years ago. There was just so very little she ever asked for that I felt bad taking one of the few things away from her that she enjoyed so much. I didn't feel like a very good mom, for sure. And all of those feelings came rushing back tonight as I was going through the boxes. 

The feelings of unease carried over into the sorting of the second box. I absolutely abhor boxes like this one. It was a mix of paperwork, little toys the girls loved, necklaces, bracelets and mouse turds. There were a couple of tins in the box that I didn't save to use, but I did put with the scrap metal to recycle. And 90% of the stuff in the box went in the trash or in the shredables, but that doesn't mean it was easy to sort the stuff out.

The toys were plastic. I could sterilize the toys. I actually set them aside to do exactly that for awhile. There was a little change in the box as well, so I did clean it with an antibacterial wipe and put it in the piggy bank. I figured it was cleaner than the vast majority of coins in the piggy bank once I got done using the wipe on it, so that was easy enough. It's not like anyone will be handling it with any regularity anyway.

I found a copy of a letter Hubster's great grandfather had written in the 1890s that had been translated from Swedish to English after he'd moved to the States from Sweden so many years ago. There was also a snapshot of me and Hubster out at dinner when we were dating and a grouping of pictures that came out of a booth where you put quarters in at a mall to capture the moment. Bugster is holding a 3 month old Scooter on her lap, and the baby is wailing. Hopper is over to Bugster's side, and is laughing hysterically at the noises coming out of Scooter's mouth. It's a precious picture, to be sure, and I'm very glad I found it.

I also came across a 110 camera with a built-in flash in the box. I'll stick new batteries in and try to take the last couple of pictures on the film and then get it developed. I have no clue what we'll find when we get the pictures back. It ought to be interesting.

Most all of that was easy, but I really struggled when I came across the necklaces and bracelets. There was a really cute necklace with wooden hearts and wooden spools on it that I had just loved on the girls. It had a white heart, red spools, and a blue cord, and it was just adorable. I came really close to trying to figure out how to get it clean, so I could let Scooter wear it. She's really into jewelry, and she'd have loved it.

I mean, I could have soaked it in bleach water to make sure it was clean. The bracelets, too. One of the necklaces had definitely been made by Hopper or Scooter. It had all sorts of wacky, fun, colorful beads on it, including a pacifier bead, and I could have gotten in clean enough for the girls to wear again. And then I remembered all the beads we have downstairs just waiting for the girls to make new necklaces and bracelets, and how I really didn't need to save any of them. 

I probably would never feel comfortable enough to let the girls wear the bracelets and necklaces, even if I thought I'd gotten them clean enough. I'd likely just store them somewhere allowing them to make me feel guilty for not doing anything with them and not giving them to the girls and they'd sit there waiting for me to get to them. Someday. So I took a big breath, and I threw them in the trash.

Then I looked at the handful of toys I'd set aside to wash. I'm not sure what I'd have done with them. I probably would have bleached them til no color was left in the plastic all the while telling myself I was saving them for Bugster's babies. That she might just want to keep them for her little ones to play with. But she's going to want to buy toys for her little ones herself. She's not going to want toys that had mouse turds on them and she's not sure are clean enough for her babies. I don't want that for my grandchildren, either.

And then I realized the hoarder part of me was trying to take over. It was trying to make my decisions for me. To keep me feeling insecure. To keep me hanging on. To control me. 

So instead of waiting to deal with the toys Someday, I decided to deal with them now. Today. I threw them all in the trash, and although I have a slight residual feeling of panic, they're gone, and they're not coming back. 

I'll count it as a victory. 

A small victory, but a victory, nonetheless.

And it didn't happen Someday. It happened Today.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Thank you, Mr Body Temperature Regulator Guy.

Almost 20 years ago, I realized that every evening I get cold. Really cold. It feels like my body just shuts down, and when I get in that shut down mode, I freeze. When I sit down in the evening to relax, I absolutely have to have a blanket with me. I can never seem to walk around in just socks, because my feet get too cold, so I have to either have slippers or socks and shoes. It's maddening, because I'd love to walk around barefoot from time to time, but alas. It isn't to be.

Almost 4 years ago, I was diagnosed as having hypothyroidism. Even though my numbers were technically still within the normal range, I had many of the symptoms of having a sluggish thyroid (one of the main symptoms is one's body loses the ability to regulate it's temperature effectively), so the doctor started me on meds. The medicine has helped with many of the symptoms, but I still get cold every evening.

You know those microfiber blankets that are super soft and super warm? I sleep under 3 of those plus a sheet and a quilt year round. Well, except during winter months when we use the comforter instead of the quilt. I maybe wouldn't need quite so many blankets during the summer, if I didn't sleep directly under the window air conditioner, but I'd still need twice as many as Hubster. It's just a fact of life for me at this point. 

I can always tell when I'm getting sick, when 3 blankets, the sheet and the quilt or comforter aren't enough to keep me warm. Besides my typical long-sleeved shirt to sleep in, I often need a hooded sweatshirt as well. Thankfully, it doesn't happen often, but there are times every few months when I have to heap even more bedding on the bed in order to sleep. Granted, I usually wake up sore from the weight of all the blankets, and I'm usually drenched in sweat from the fever breaking as well as the occasional hot flash, but at least I'm finally able to get warmed through and through. 

So imagine my surprise a couple of nights ago when I realized that I didn't need a blanket when I sat down to relax before going to bed. Not only didn't I need a blanket, I didn't even need my slippers, and even the long-sleeved shirt was too much. I should have known something was up. I wish I could say that somehow, somewhere along the line, my thyroid suddenly started doing it's job and regulated my body temperature like it was supposed to, but no. (Remind me not to tip Mr Body Temperature Regulator Guy. He's doing a lousy job and deserves nothing!)

I ended up coming down with the bug Scooter brought home from school. I have been so tired. It's not like I'm tired from working hard. I haven't had the energy to do anything for a couple of days, and I've just felt punky overall. Sort of fluish. There was something going on with my throat. It wasn't sore as much as it felt like it was swollen, and I couldn't even stand to wear a super comfortable, super stretched out crew neck t-shirt. It was just felt too tight, even though it was several inches away from my throat. 

The good news is that Scooter seems to finally be over it, except for the canker sore inside her lip. I woke up today with more energy, and I woke up cold. I think it means I'm past the worst of this, too, in spite of my throat still feeling off. I'm hoping to get some paperwork sorted today and work on the laundry a bit. I've got to get something done. 

I need to get back in the dehoarding mode. 

And how!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


My entire life I've dealt with varying degrees of depression.

In high school, I survived a suicide attempt. 

After Bugster was born, I dealt with postpartum depression. I began feeling suicidal and started having horrible thoughts about hurting our baby. It scared me to death. I got help and worked through things until I was out of trouble, but it's something of which I've always been acutely aware, because I never, ever want to get to that point again.

A few years ago, I found out that I had a severe Vitamin D deficiency. Since I started supplementing with Vitamin D, I've found I don't go as deeply into the depths as I have in the past, and I'm so very grateful for that. The antidepressant I've been on for several years has helped as well, but the Vitamin D definitely had more of a positive affect on me than it did.

I know that depression will always be a part of who I am, and I know that there are certain situations, and unfortunately, certain people I must avoid to keep my head above water. I struggle with having to limit my friendships with certain people, because I do know that everyone needs a friend, but I also know that I can't always be it. It quite literally is for my own self-preservation.

When I was dealing with the postpartum, I had a friend who lived across the street from us. She and her husband were having marital problems, and she constantly harped about how horrible he was. I don't recall her saying more than a handful of positive things about him or their relationship. Granted, neither my husband nor I had a really high opinion of him, but that wasn't the issue. The issue was that the more I was around her the more I found myself finding things wrong with my own husband. Things that I used to just take for normal quirks and differences soon became arguing point.

I was shocked when I realized how contagious negativity was for me and how I had allowed myself to be drawn in. I slowly started to distance myself from her, because I didn't want our friendship to interfere in my marriage. Thankfully, we moved away less than a year later, but before we had a chance to get out of there, my 'friend'  cheated on her husband and ran off with another guy.

I felt like I had betrayed my husband's trust by talking with her, by venting to her about every little thing about my husband that annoyed me, and it devastated me knowing I played an active part in it. I know the postpartum played a role in all of it, but it was still no excuse. I allowed myself to be drawn into her train wreck, and our marriage could have easily become a casualty. 

Don't get me wrong. I know that not all marriages are good marriages. And sometimes, people need to vent. To confide that things aren't going so well, because they're scared, and they need advice, and they want reassurance. I get that. But there's a huge difference between an occasional venting and someone being negative about their spouse with almost every word they speak. 

I knew then that the only way our marriage would work would be for me to stay away from people who were willing to regularly trash their spouses. It makes my heart heavy, and I want to help, but I can't. My husband and our marriage means the world to me, and I just can't go there. And to be blunt, Hubster is much more important to me than their problems and even than the friendship in which I may have an investment. 

I made that mistake once, and I'm never going to allow it to happen again. My husband and our marriage is always going to come first. Because we really are that good together, and because he means the world to me.

Because we are worth it.

It's all a matter of self-preservation.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

All my troubles seemed so far away...

So I worked on sorting paperwork today. Remember the big mound of boxes in our study that I posted a picture of here? Well, I needed to get started on it. 

I feel pretty good about what I got done so far, but I need to stop for the night. My back is hurting still from the other day, so I'm going to call it a night soon. 

In the meantime, I was able to get 3 boxes sorted. Most of it went in the trash or the shreadables. The rest is set aside for scanning a little bit later. Hubster got me a portable document scanner for my birthday, and I just got it set up in the last few days. I am loving it! But I do have a lot to scan, so I think for right now I'm going to just keep a crate with stuff in it I need to scan. I'll get to it eventually, and this will give me a chance to get through the other boxes more quickly. I really need to get through them, too. I'm looking for birth certificates and social security cards. You know. Things that shouldn't be lost in mountains of paperwork.

But I have to admit that I laughed out loud at something I came across today. It was a hand over hand handwriting exercise done at school to help Hopper practice her printing.Now that I've scanned it, I'll throw it out, but it just made the sorting so worth it....

Mark played with the yarn in the yard yesturday.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


After 8 weeks of our furniture and doorways losing several layers of paint due to the erratic driving, meltdowns due to frustration from everyone in the family at one point or the other and walking single file and sideways to get around in the house, Hopper is finally out of the wheelchair! We are thrilled!

Hopper is finally back in her bedroom downstairs, and I can't get over how quiet the house seems now. Then again, every night for the last 3 week or so, Hopper would wake Scooter up from a dead sleep to tell her, "Go sleep!" She'd alternate telling Scooter to go to sleep and telling her how to sleep by waking her up to tell her to turn "This way!" And while it's funny in theory, it's exhausting for everyone. Nobody seems to be able to drift into a restful sleep, no matter how hard they try. 

So we are indeed very glad that she is out of the wheelchair!

Being out of the wheelchair means she can navigate to the bathroom to use the facilities and to shower as well, so it also means we no longer need the shower chair or the bedside commode. After 8 weeks of emptying the commode several times a day, I selfishly have to admit that other than Hopper healing so well, getting rid of that nasty thing is my favorite outcome to date!

Hopper is back in her bedroom, but we've been so busy with school starting up and doctors appointments and the like that I hadn't had the time to get Scooter's bedroom put back in place. Granted, the room was only Hopper-free a couple of days before I got to it, but it was bothering me. I finished it up yesterday. I got everything dusted, the trundle put back under her bed, and even vacuumed all her stuffed animals while I had the vacuum out. 

I got the antique secretary we keep at the end of the hallway put back in its place and moved the rest of her furniture where it belonged. It's amazing how much room a trundle takes up when a room is so small and there's furniture in there! It looked so much better, and I knew Scooter would feel so much better sleeping in her own pretty little bedroom again, but I realized we'd taken her chair down to Hopper's bedroom to make room for the wheelchair when she was convalescing. It still needed to come upstairs.

Foolishly, I decided I couldn't wait. Chalk it up to the OCD...

The chair has a storage compartment in the seat and is a cute little thing, but it's a bit too heavy for my sore back. So I was careful and rested the chair on each step as I came upstairs. I was then able to just push it along the floor til I got to Scooter's bedroom, and my back was doing fine. But then I couldn't get it in the doorway. Instead of just moving the antiques secretary to the side, I lifted the chair over it to get it into the bedroom.

Did I mention I was foolish?

I've had major numbness in my left leg today. Last night, the numbness was in the right. So I definitely tweaked the bulging discs in my lower back when I lifted it. The good news is that Scooter's bedroom is completely clean, looks pretty, and is a peaceful place for her to sleep. The direct result of which is that all of us get more restful sleep. The bad news is that I can't feel my left foot.

Oh well.  I don't have anything special coming up that requires me to feel my left foot, so I guess I don't really need to feel it, anyway. I'll be spending the next several days with my best friend.

I may have mentioned her before....

I affectionately call her "Hot Stuff".

No! Not her

I'm talking about my favorite heating pad. 

Sheesh! Who did you think I was talking about?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The big Five O.

A few weeks ago, Hubster turned 50. With the hospitalization and the extra costs associated with Hopper breaking her leg, we haven't had much extra money to celebrate his big birthday in a big fashion. And although I could have thrown him a small party, he really can't stand parties. Guess that worked out well, but it left me in a bit of a quandary.  I wasn't quite sure what to do to make him feel really celebrated. After all, 50 is big. It's worth celebrating.

My sister mentioned to me that she'd thrown a big party for her husband when he turned 30 and then again when he turned 40, but they didn't really have the money when he turned 50, so she had to get creative. She said that for 50 days in a row, beginning with his birthday, she gave him something to remind him that he was special to her and she hoped he had a good birthday. 

A 50 day long birthday!

What an awesome idea! 

So I took it and ran with it, and it's really been fun!

Not everything has cost an arm and a leg, which is really good, since I only have 2 arms and 2 legs, and that would only get me through 4 days! But I digress...

A few of the gifts I've given:

A strawberry rhubarb pie. His favorite. He's the only one in the family who likes them, so it worked out perfectly. 

Some of his favorite candies that he hasn't seen since he was a kid. I found both Black Cows and Slo Pokes for him, so that brought back some fun memories for him.

I made his favorite sandwiches for lunch one day. Tuna salad with celery and apple chunks. They really are pretty good, but I really don't make them that often, so they were a treat.

Most things have just been little things to show I've been thinking about him. I've got a couple of things tucked away to give him that he's been wanting for awhile, but he'll get them a week or two apart with little things in between. 

But there's 1 thing in particular he's really enjoyed, and it's lasted him awhile...

You know those yummy caramels called Riesen? I bought a big bag, counted 50 out, and attached a blank business card to each and wrote a different 'Riesen' I loved him on each card. He's not only enjoyed eating one of his favorite candies, but he's really enjoyed reading how much he's adored. 

I hope Hubster enjoys the next few weeks of his 50th birthday as much I've enjoyed coming up with different ideas to celebrate him ...

Er. As much as I've enjoyed him ...

Um. That didn't come out quite right ... After all, this is a PG rated blog!

Maybe I'd better stop while I'm still ahead...

Happy 50th Birthday, Hubster! I love you!!


Friday, August 12, 2011

Ready for the weekend.

This week has been... How you say? 


Just lots of emotional stuff dealing with something that happened with Scooter. Trying to figure out how to proceed - if we should take legal action or what, and wishing that we'd had a hidden camera in place. 

Dehoarding wasn't big on my list of things to do this week. The biggest one was just survival. 

Survived. Tomorrow's the weekend. Going to enjoy the last weekend before school starts. 

Sleeping in. 


Breathing in life.




Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Monday. Monday. So good to me.

At least I'm really hoping it will be. 

Monday is hopefully Hopper's last visit to the orthopedic surgeon. If he releases her to full weight bearing status on Monday, it will make things so much easier around here.

It will end the need for a wheelchair, the wheelchair ramp, the shower transfer bench, possibly the walker and best of will end the need for the dreaded bedside commode!

Don't get me wrong. They've all served their purpose, and we're very, very grateful to have had access to each and every one of them. However, at this point, we are more than ready to be rid of all of them!

Hopper has been confined to the living room, dining room and the Scooter's bedroom. The main bathroom would have been available for her to use, except that we tore it apart back in April. We were hoping to get the shower, toilet, and floor redone before Bugster & Bubster's wedding in July. Guess what we didn't get finished before Hopper broke her leg?

The result of us not finishing the remodeling project has been multiple trips up and down the stairs with the commode bucket every day since she's been home. 

Lest one wonder, it's been just as fun as it sounds.

Another fun result of not having finished the bathroom remodel is the adventure that is getting her down the stairs to the shower. The wheelchair doesn't fit past the edge of the cabinet in the kitchen, so at this point in the journey, she uses the walker until she gets to the top of the stairs where she sits on her behind for the trek down. While we hold her left foot up, so she doesn't put any weight on it, she scoots down the flight of stairs. When she reaches the bottom, she uses the walker once again to get into the bathroom and onto the transfer bench in the shower.

We reverse the process to get her back upstairs and back into her wheelchair. It isn't nearly as physical a process for us as it was when she first got home from the hospital. She's able to help hold her weight more than she could then, but it's still exhausting.

To say it's been a bit disruptive to the norm of our everyday lives is an understatement, and we're all ready for things to get back to normal around here. 

Whatever *normal* is.