How To Tame A Squirrel with Your Own Two Hands

Those of you who have been reading recently know that my Squirrel has been in a funk lately what with the end of the ski season and all.

Those of you who have been reading for a while know that my Squirrel has been known to make comments like these:

“Find a new obsession…and chuck a couple of pillows from the bed over here.”


“Get rid of the pile of donations in (my) garage or I’m going to start putting them all back.”

And, those of you who have been reading since the beginning know that my Squirrel does things like this.

Loveable behaviour only if you’re a furry little fella.

So when my Squirrel reached his negativity quota by 9am this morning, I wondered if it might be beneficial to both of us if I came up with a sign to remind him that his comments had strayed so far into the negative I feared he might never come back.

Nothing too confrontational. Something lighthearted, if not entirely subtle.

I considered raising my hand.

No, too submissive. I didn’t want to give him the wrong idea.

Maybe a word, like sunshine or walnut. That would be uplifting.

Nah. He’d acclimatize to that too quickly and repeating the word walnut would just annoy me.

Then it hit me. The sign I was looking for was hanging right there at the ends of my arms.

Jazz Hands!

Aint no rodent too negative for these dancing digits.

“Blah, blah, blah, grump, blah, blah, blah, grump.”

One, two, three! Silent with energy…Jazz Hands!

“Blah, blah, blah, grump, blah, blah, blah, grump.”

One more time. This time with pizazzz…Jazz Hands!

Silence. Sweet, cheerful, silence.

That was just too easy.

So, this is for you Squirrel and anyone else who might be finding it hard to keep their spirits in the pink this Spring.

Happy Day! From me + some random people on flickr.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

photo source: Flickr Creative Commons search: Jazz Hands

(Pictures were selected based on energy, finger extension, proximity to the face, and expression. Extra points were allotted for group effort. Have you got a better photo? E-mail me at I’m cheerfully accepting photos for my arsenal.)


And the winner is….

Total raised for your charities: $167

Call me cynical, but when someone does a giveaway online, I always wonder about the process. Did they close their eyes and point to a winner on the screen? Did they enter they enter their favourite reader 25 times? Did they just choose their best friend?

Here at 100 things, 100 days, we’re on the up and up. To prove it, I enlisted the help of my youngest (five-year olds are all about fair) to write down the names of everyone who entered, fold them in half, and draw one out of a bowl.

I taped the entire thing on my iPhone – upside down. Yep, upside down.

Then, my five-year old requested a re-take because he wasn’t happy with his pronunciation of the word congratulations.

And on play back, I realized that I sound exactly like Ma Ingalls on Little House On The Prairie. People! Do I really sound like Ma Ingalls? Because that’s not who I hear in my head. Marion Cunningham maybe, but not Ma Ingalls.

That video will never air publicly. To redeem ourselves we made a poster.

Without further adieu. The winner of the Imaginary Moving Day Charity Draw is:

Liz  is a professional organizer based in Toronto, Canada. She writes about decluttering and organizing (among other insightful topics) on her blog: Sort It Canada!

I am proud to be able to make a donation in Liz’s name in the amount of $167 to her charity Compassion Canada. That’s the total number of things that exited my house in this round of decluttering.

Thanks to everyone who entered a favourite cause:

1) Judy (Mom) – Depression Research Mood Disorders Centre of Excellence British Columbia

2) Candi (Min Hus) – Oxfam

3) Becky (Decluttering Diva) – The Snuggles Project

4) Libea (PEI) – Toronto Wildlife Centre

5) Erin (dreams you dare to dream) – BC SPCA

6) Eco Cat Lady (The Eco Cat Lady Speaks)  – Alley Cat Alliance 

7) Megyn (Minimalist Mommi) – AZ Animal Welfare League

I learned a lot from the charities you submitted and, I learn something new just about every time I read your comments or visit your blogs. So, thank-you!

And thanks for being my artificial motivation for my imaginary move. Ironically, the imaginary move has turned into a real move slated for sometime in August of this year.

To celebrate I’m taking a break from formal decluttering to catch up on my blog reading and to open my blog up to a wider range of topics.

I hope you will still enjoy reading my posts about our circuitous route to simplicity as we get ready to move our life up the Sea to Sky Highway from Vancouver to Whistler, BC.

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It is so on!

2 days to “imaginary” moving day, $133 raised for your charities

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On Friday, Squirrel emerged from his winter burrow. It happens exactly the same way every year.

He dusts the powder off his bushy tail, scrambles up to the kitchen island, takes a long slurp of his coffee and declares:

“We’ve really got to clean this place up!”

Oh really? I think as I’m unloading the dishwasher with one hand, flipping pancakes with the other, and correcting homework with the third that I seem to have grown during his seasonal absence.

I calmly remind him that the house actually does gets cleaned every week during ski season by the same glorious goddess that makes sure the children are fed, homework is done and everyone is wearing clean underwear.

Here’s where I’m afraid to say it gets ugly and if you’ve come to be fond of Squirrel, please cover your ears. In fact, I’m not even sure I heard it correctly – the sudden rushing of blood to my own head was so deafening. There was talk of that weekly cleaning not being….up to his standards???

Which instantly reminded me of the stashes:

the messes:

the incomprehensible:

And all my passive aggressive heart could think while watching him casually sip his coffee was:

It is so on!

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In fact, with fighting words like those, I’m feeling decidedly unsentimental about which of Squirrel’s treasures make the moving day cut:

You see, I too have standards.

(Pending an apology, none of Squirrel’s things were actually disposed of in the writing of this blog.)

Oh, Just Keep It!

6 days to moving day, $118 raised for your charities

I’m not going to lie to you, I’ve been blocked.

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Between the power washing and the landscaping and the novel-writing, I’ve come up with some pretty convincing ways to avoid decluttering.

To the outside world, I’ve been a whirlwind of productivity – garden beds have been weeded, patio stones have been laid, rock walls have been restored to their original colour, moss has been killed, and chapters have been written and rewritten.

Give me ten extra minutes and I’m mowing the lawn, five and I’m planting a basket, two and I’m offing a stray weed with one hand and tapping out prose with the other.

I recognize this feeling. If I can’t control when and if our house will sell and when and if we’ll find a new one, I may as well blast moss off every stone on the property and write the next Harry Potter.

The trouble is that it never quite works out that way. My projects languish from the lack of focus and by the time I reach the original goal (selling the house) I need about six years of uninterrupted sleep.

Even my decluttering project seems to have taken a back seat to all the other very important things I must do – did I mention, I refinished two coffee tables?

That was until this morning. This morning – I got over myself.

I put the three bags back on my arm and instead of obsessing over whether I should or shouldn’t keep something, I (gasp!) gave myself permission to keep one or two things I couldn’t decide on.

Phew! That wasn’t so bad.

Well, the whole thing snowballed and before I knew it twenty-five items were on their way to the garbage, the recycling bin, or the thrift shop.

And the nice thing is that once freed from the perfectionism of making the right decision, I found myself more and more willing to give up stuff that just a few months ago I thought I wanted to keep. Decluttering was fun again.

I’m back, and not a moment too soon. It’s six days until I have to have this place in move ready condition, and six days until I donate some of my craigslist proceeds to one of your charities.

If you haven’t already, please let me know in the comments where you’d like to see the money go.

Six Ways to Sabotage Your Decluttering Project

25 days to moving day, $93 dollars raised for your charities

Not me. Yet. (image source)

I’m sure you guessed from my long absence that there hasn’t been much decluttering going on. That isn’t to say that there hasn’t been anything going on, just nothing blog worthy.

So, to give myself an excuse to talk to you again – and to distract you from the fact that I’ve only ditched 18 things since we last met – here’s my list of six surefire ways to sabotage your decluttering efforts:

1) Take up a new hobby. For me, that’s power washing. I cannot believe I’ve left this satisfying chore to the boys my whole life. I highly recommend it for feeling like you’re accomplishing something while you’re procrastinating. Plus, it’s a chore that never ends. Never. Ever.

2) Take on a new project. Yep, I decided to polish off the children’s chapter book I’ve been writing for an upcoming writing contest. Coincidentally, the contest deadline is April 24, six days before my imaginary move. That’ll keep me busy.

3) Homeschool your child. Okay, so I’m only doing it one day a week, but that’s quite ambitious for both of us.

4) Plan an imaginary move, then seriously consider a real move. See your home through the eyes of potential buyers. Start cleaning obsessively.

5) Put your children in weekend ski lessons at a mountain resort one and a half hours away. Spend every winter weekend packing and unpacking gear, clothing, toys.

6) Revisit your throw pillow obsession. After all, they may take centre stage at an open house. Spend hours internet browsing for the pillow equivalent of redecorating – for under $50, of course. Give up. Decide to silkscreen your own. Research silk screening. Realize you’re being ridiculous. Start power washing again.

I suspect things will get moving along quickly again now that I’m on the final countdown to moving day.

In the meantime, how do you like to procrastinate. With power tools? Online? Over tea?

When In Doubt Carry It Around For Awhile

36 days to moving day, $74 raised for your charities

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Sometimes I like to pretend that I’ve adopted my children from war-torn third world countries. I find it makes me a more compassionate parent. Instead of staring into the faces of small spoiled versions of myself and Squirrel, I see stalwart individuals blameless in their misunderstanding of our cultural standard of good behaviour.

We’re at the end of the second week of Spring Break. Add to that the week prior that the BC teachers were on strike, and it’s more like a Spring sabbatical. A sabbatical that’s taken its toll on me and my decluttering. I have decluttered a few things – the mini trampoline that was the scene of an unfortunate accident several months ago, two pairs of Heely’s that my son outgrew before any unfortunate accidents could take place, and about 12 more bankers boxes full of files.

I am still clinging to my Pilates Arc that I plan to make good use of as soon as I get in better shape. Ha ha ha ha ha…yes, I’m keeping a piece of exercise equipment until I get in good enough shape to use it. Here’s the questionable rationale:

1) I liked using it the handful of times I used it a year ago.

2) I love pilates. I loved it more when I actually did it.

3) The kids are still young enough to be my excuse for not exercising.

4) It’s a very good quality arc that Squirrel bought me for Christmas.

It struck me that I do that a lot – hang on to things that I like even though I’m not getting any use out of them. In my mind, certain things have an expiry date. The mini trampoline was also a good quality model and a gift from Squirrel close to five years ago. (I ask for these things, by the way, if Squirrel initiated exercise equipment as a gift, he’d be short half his tail fur by now.)

Five years is about my tolerance for unused exercise equipment. And that’s okay, I guess. I have the space to store my arc until I use it again or rationalize its resale.

However, I have noticed myself doing something very odd this Spring Break that is neither rational nor okay.

The other day I carried a lemonade around the playground for an hour and a half. Finding safe little nooks in the snow to store it while I stopped to push my son on the swing, relocating it whenever we moved too far away for comfort. Heaven forbid it spill or get snowed on.

Now I was aware that my son never drinks a whole lemonade when I bought it for him. And, as we left the coffee shop, I knew he was finished with it. But it was a good quality lemonade that cost a fortune and what if he got thirsty playing in the park?

He didn’t. I carried it (and him) home where I threw it out and got him the glass of water he asked for. I’m not going to ask the obvious “Why!?!” here. Instead maybe you can tell me if I’m alone in this or if you carry stuff around for way too long to assuage your disposal guilt.

And if awareness is the first step to changing the behaviour, maybe you and I can help each other put this stuff down.

Resist the Newfangled…

53 days to moving day, $53 raised for your charities (coincidence?)

I was tossing this new mascara in the garbage today:

when it occurred to me that I haven’t come very far in the experimental purchasing department. You know those things you buy in a pinch when the store is out of your favourite brand or you think perhaps they have indeed designed a better wheel.

I am a persnickety consumer – thank goodness, really – or we’d be in a lot more debt than we are now. Still, I do find myself reaching for a newfangled thingamabobber on occasion.

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I realize that last statement makes me sound like I’m 80 years old.  I’m only halfway there, but there are a few things that I’ve learned in my forty years about what to resist.

1) Never buy anything that is an improvement on what already works for you. You will always be disappointed.

2) Never buy the next closest thing to what you really want.

3) Never buy an exercise gadget.

4) Never buy something for your child that they just saw on TV.

5) Never buy anything that requires more maintenance than you are willing to provide for it.

6) Never buy a brand new home or a brand new car. Let someone work out the kinks and absorb the depreciation for you.

7) And never, ever, ever buy this:

unless, of course, you are:

A) living in a dorm

B) courting a hippie

C) experimenting with drugs, or

D) all of the above

And if any of the above apply to you –  nothing I write will make any sense to your for fifteen or more years.