Hoardzilla vs. Baby Beans

It’s back to work on the hoarding issue for me, today. A few updates for you on the last hoarding blog, and a new direction, borne of necessity.

I miss having dinner, at a table, with my husband. We eat on the couch – not because we want to watch television (a new year’s resolution is no more eating in front of the TV) but because we have nowhere else to sit.

This…is our dining room:

This room becomes like this (occasionally worse) in stages. Each time we have people over, this is the war zone of things from other areas of the house so that we can just shut the door and the rest of the house is neat and tidy for visitors. It’s also used as a work area for all kinds of projects which are started and not finished. I have read that people fill up space because in emptiness there is loneliness.

I don’t think that’s necessarily my case. I think for me it’s more the product of being a Jill-of-all-Trades (and mistress of none). There are always five or more *things* going on in our lives at once, and the mixing of all of them is a recipe for catastrophe. Nothing gets finished before another thing is started. There are school projects, genealogy projects, photo projects, cooking projects, work projects, house-moving projects and more. I manage to meet my deadlines, but it’s a constant just-in-time system, usually because of stopping everything to search for things.  How do you handle multiple projects?

Unlike the basement, which was created during a hyper-organization phase, the dining room is one of the closed-door areas when we have company. Today I had to send an email asking our Florida renters to please mail me their rent payment for February, so I can deposit it here and then electronically transfer it back to the bank in Florida. Why? Because the deposit slips I usually send them to use at their local bank, like the records and all other information, are buried somewhere in the OCD disaster zone of our house. Yes there is a place for it (well, some of it) but no, it’s not in its place. I have my guesses on location narrowed down to the dining room (where I occasionally shove back half the table and work on things) and office (yes, I get the irony that I don’t use the office for paperwork and that the filing cabinet there is empty).

After reading a little more on hoarding self-help, I think starting in the dining room is a better way to go. It will give me measurable success in a shorter amount of time, and the things hidden within it are of more practical value, so I will see both the results of being able to use the room as well as (hopefully) the results of taking care of some other things, like managing the Florida rental in the process.

The bad news is that it adds more delay to finding the letters from my father. It takes a lot of effort to not rip through boxes just searching and searching for those letters. Unfortunately I’ve tried that route before and did not succeed, so I think this slower process, with input from you, is still the way to go.

UPDATES: Kurt weighed in on the items from the lasting hoarding blog picture, and we have made a few decisions. He will be off a couple days this week and we made a pact to work on each of the items. 1) We are keeping the wedding dress, for now. We found it has a hole where a mouse has eaten into it, so we have to inspect for damage to the dress and then take it to have it cleaned and re-boxed in hopefully a more mouse-proof container. (2) I will clean and prep the mudroom and basement stairs and Kurt will install the carpet this weekend, putting his other projects on hold to help with this quest (LOVE HIM!). Any remaining carpet will be taken to http://www.constructionjunction.org. Photos to follow on here! (3) Kurt will get the lamp working as well this weekend, complete with a new lampshade and it will go in the loft where it was originally slated. (4) The mattresses are still in discussion, with your input taken into great consideration.


TODAY’S QUESTIONS: See today’s photo.

QUESTION 1: See that giant thing lurking in the background? It’s a homemade rendition of a Baby Bean’s doll from 1970. Kurt put a lot of time and effort into making it for my 40th birthday celebration, although he’s willing to part with it or whatever I want to do (did I mention how much I adore this man?). Naturally I’m attached to the nostalgia of it, but I find I can part with it as long as (you know the chorus here) it doesn’t go into a landfill. In my entrepreneurial little mind, I could see someone wanting to purchase this, because it’s not easy to make, and there are a lot of other whackos like me out there who are obsessed with collecting Baby Beans dolls and would use it for their own party. When we get to the basement again, you’ll understand more of the Baby Beans collection (I have one of the largest collections in the world, or did at one time – even had a baby beans website, ha-ha). Kurt’s mom previously made a good suggestion that it could be repurposed as a Santa Clause if it were repainted. We like that idea but I’m not sure if it were Santa that I would have any interest in keeping it taking room in the house just waiting for once a year. Thoughts?

QUESTION 2: In this room are a lot of gifts for other people. As noted in earlier blog, I’m one who will buy something if I think a friend or family member will like it, but in trying to save it for birthday or holiday, bury it somewhere in the process. Do any of you buy gifts ahead of time, as you see them? If so, what’s your strategy and organizational tip for knowing where they are when it’s birthday time? What happens to me is that I end up buying another gift at birthday or holiday time because I don’t know if or where their gifts are located.

Thanks in advance for your encouragement and helpful input!

For more information about OCD and hoarding, please see this helpful website: http://www.ocfoundation.org/hoarding/

15 thoughts on “Hoardzilla vs. Baby Beans

  1. An idea for your miscellaney, non-Construction Junction whatsits- CJ has a partner, just around the corner, called Creative Reuse. They take tons of kinds of stuff- random sculpture, craft supplies, old photos (not that those are something to be given away in this case), craft supplies, medical stuff, wallpaper samples, just about anything that isn’t food or clothes. They’re a nonprofit, and may be able to give you a receipt. Link with their information about donations: http://pccr.org/donate/

  2. I buy stuff all the time – when I see something useful, affordable, cute ( insert any number of adjectives here) and so does my daughter who lives next door. Our secret is to keep a running list of items available -hers is on a spreadsheet in a computer folder somewhere – mine is on various sheets of paper kept with my budget book, bills, appointment cards, etc. in my desk. Anyhoo, when either of us needs a gift – be it birthday, wedding, christmas, housewarming or whatever – we check out each others lists and shop from them. 9 times out of 10 we have something that is exactly right for the occasion. I think you can have as many bins as you have room for as long as you know ( or can easily find out) what’s in them. Don’t tell my husband I said that since it drives him nuts that our giant basement is filled with boxes, totes, and containers of lots of stuff 🙂

  3. you can do it!! Have you checked out Real Simple? They have a magazine, but pretty much all of their organizing tips are online. Really great ideas.

  4. I completely understand your feelings of nostalgia. Something your husband worked very hard on and (probably) was a surprise. I agree with the photo idea. The pinata sounds kid of fun too.

    good luck!

  5. Hi Marla!

    First of all, I’m so excited about you keeping this blog. I have family members with OCD (although not the hoarding variety), and I also have friends who *do* have the hoarding variety, so — as I think you’re beginning to see overwhelmingly — YOU ARE NOT ALONE. 🙂 I think it’s great that you’re blogging about it to get a variety of input in one compact, easy-to-access spot. (After all, there’s no misplacing a blog.)

    That said, I actually have input on your gift dilemma. For years — probably going on ten at this point — I’ve committed to being the person who just gives random gifts. This translates into also being that person who almost never has a gift for you on a birthday or Christmas. (Although I can usually muster it up to give a card at least.) This has so many benefits, but the top two are 1) not losing the gift before I can give it to the recipient, and 2) not having to deal with Christmas shoppers! (ha)

    Maybe while you’re working on this, every time you find something you either intended to give someone or are inspired to give someone, just … give it to them. Don’t wait for a reason. It will clear out your own space and also give those recipients a good surprise.

    About your giant Baby Bean: Do you have pictures of you, Kurt, and the doll at your 40th birthday party? Yes? And none of you have something on your teeth? Fabulous. It’s time to give Baby Bean to a Baby Bean collector who might be able to use it as the centerpiece of the collection. Maybe sell it in bulk with the rest of your collection (minus the *ONE* doll from it you get to keep). As one of the biggest collections in the world, surely it would attract the attention of a serious collector, if not the National Toy Hall of Fame (http://www.toyhalloffame.org/), or perhaps even the Smithsonian Museum of American History (http://www.si.edu/Museums/american-history-museum).

    You can do this, Marla! And you have all of us rooting for you. 🙂

    1. What a great reply. Thanks Becca! I never even considered donating the doll collection. That makes sense though. I just searched and couldn’t find any listings of Baby Beans in their archives.

      I think you and Kris are on to something with giving those gifts away now. It would take a lot of effort to be okay still not getting them something at birthday or holiday times though. Of course that’s just my internal issue I need to work on.

      Thanks for your encouragement. This is definitely a more difficult process than I thought it would be.

  6. Hahaa…okay, the bin. You *know* why it must be a “one bin only” rule. Because you will buy too much stuff and then you risk having another mess. The lid must fit because you *know* that you will, if allowed, let it spill over. There’s nothing wrong with buying gifts for people–it’s awesome, in fact. But if it’s creating a space/mess issue in your house, it’s something that needs “rules.” If you have enough to fill five bins right now–go through it all, label each gift with who you intended it for, and, regardless of the day, or time of year, *give it to them.* It’s easy-peasy to say “I got this for you and meant to give it to you for _____, but didn’t. Here, take it now!” and then run away. Do it with *all* of your pre-bought gifts until you’re down to nothing. Then get the *one* bin and start limiting yourself. If you’re buying these things for the satisfaction of *giving* them to people (which there’s nothing wrong with), you have to admit that you’re doing great on the buying part, and doing less-than-great on the actual giving them to people part. And that defeats the entire purpose of why you like gift-buying/giving in the first place. Technically, you’re just buying stuff to sit in your dining room and where’s the satisfaction in that? =)

    As for the Baby Bean…now, stay with me here, I’m totally serious. I would remove the head (or bottom, whichever’s easiest), fill it with tasty goodies, and then use it as a pinata at my next birthday. Even if it’s just you and Kurt beating the crap out of it in your yard, that’s what I’d do. Then, I’d take the broken pieces and somewhat ceremoniously burn them (which you can easily do in a barbecue). It would be fun, it would be cathartic (in terms of the hoarding), and it would be a silly-satisfying way to wrap up the personal value of Kurt’s gesture to begin with. Seriously, that’s exactly what I’d do with it.

  7. 1) What is that Baby Beans made of?
    2) Just like everything else you want to keep, make a specific, special place for the future-gift items. Even just a big plastic bin in the basement. When you buy something for someone, tag it with some tape (the person’s name, and maybe the occasion), and put it in the bin. When the occasion rolls around, just go down and get it. Rules: you are not allowed more than one large-ish bin, and the lid must always be able to close properly. If your bin is too full to close, you can’t buy anyone anything else ahead of time until some occasions have passed and there’s room in the bin.

    1. Thanks Kris.
      It’s made of papier mache filled with balloons.

      Acccck. I don’t know if I can handle the rule to keep it to one bin. I probably have enough for about five bins right now. Hmmm – what is the issue on this? I think that’s not unreasonable to say “one bin” but why do I find it unreasonable? What’s the deal with me and gift giving anyway? I wonder if gift-giving can be compulsive. Everywhere I go I see things other people would like. If I can afford to, I buy it. Do you suppose it’s the same pleaseure-center as people who compulsively buy for themselves? Gah. This is HARD! I love your suggestion and hate it at the same time. I am a mini basket of stress. Switching over to the bearcam to calm myself a bit. Wish she would just have her cubs already!

  8. To tackle question two: When I was growing up, one of my aunts always had a “goody closet,” a largeish closet near her kitchen. She used it both for things bought for specific people but not yet given, and also for things like hostess gifts that are just handy to have around. It was lined in shelves and those hanging shoe organizers and stuff, so everything could stay visible in a designated place. It worked well for her to have one specific location where nothing else was allowed. Maybe, if you don’t have a closet that would work, a bookshelf with organizer bins on it would be an alternative solution?

    1. That’s great advice, Caroline. I wish you had a blog I could follow. Please write one. I would love to be inside your brain more.

      I think I’ve always felt like the gifts are a transient thing and never wanted to create a permanent location for them. But obviously that logic doesn’t pan out because though individual items are transient, there will always be items that need to use the space.

      Thanks. It’s funny how hard it is to think it through objectively until you write about it or discuss it.

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