This post is about something that you should not be a minimalist on.
We awoke at 3 am to the smoke alarm beeping in my youngest son’s bedroom. My wife heard it first and woke me up as she ran to his room but I thought it was his alarm clock so I stayed in bed. She ran downstairs. I thought she needed some light to see how to turn off his alarm. The noise stopped, but when she ran back into our room yelling “What’s going on?!” I realized it wasn’t his alarm clock.
I’m a little slow sometimes, especially at 3 am.
As I jumped out of bed, it went off again. It beeped several times and stopped. I removed it and took it to our room and then went back to check his room over. There was no smoke and no smell. We felt the walls and ceiling but didn’t feel any heat. We have detectors in each of the four bedrooms upstairs and one in the hallway. None of the others went off, but his alarm sounded again a few minutes later in our room. It’s a combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector so I paid attention to the lights. It was definitely lit up for smoke, not for CO.
I finally felt pretty confident that there was no fire and there was something wrong with the smoke detector. I removed the batteries and took it downstairs. I then checked all over the house and didn’t find any evidence of smoke, heat, or any problems. Eventually, I left it in the kitchen without the battery and tried to get a little more sleep. I really struggled with what to do, because I was sure the detector was malfunctioning but what if it wasn’t?
The next day I started educating myself about smoke detectors. Here’s what I’ve learned:
What should you do now?
Examine all of your smoke detectors and CO detectors. Take them down and look at the back to see the manufacture date and read any instructions on them. Just because you installed it 8 years ago doesn’t mean it isn’t past the 10 year mark. Don’t wait 13 years like me. Replace the old ones. Also, consider where your detectors are located and what types of detectors you have. Here are links to a couple sites that may help you decide where to place them and what detectors to buy.
I now have replaced all of my smoke detectors with these smoke and CO detectors from First Alert you see below. I have a CO alarm on each floor and a total of 6 smoke detectors throughout the house. They all interconnect so that if one goes off, they all go off. These also have a built-in voice alert to announce where the fire/CO is. They are unbelievably loud. We feel much more confident that if something happens, everyone will wake up and get out of the house.
Go check yours out. Now.
I don’t know about you, but at my house, stuffed animals seem to appear out of nowhere. I have no idea where they come from. They’re a bit like wire coat hangers. The kids are always happy to have more even though it’s rare when I see one being played with. Today, I have a couple of suggestions about where to get rid of them (assuming you’re kids will part with them).
To be honest, the best method to get rid of a stuffed animal I have ever seen, was when I was in the Army and watched a stuffed Barney the Dinosaur get blown up by a Claymore mine. If you’re short on explosives or just prefer a more humane way to get rid or those dust collectors, there are other options. You can always try selling them if you’re having a garage sale, but from what I’ve heard they don’t usually sell very well. I recommend just donating them or, if they are in bad shape, just throw them away.
While not every charity will accept used stuffed animals, The Salvation Army in Southeast Michigan does. I don’t think they all do though, so you may need to check the one near you. Some local thrift stores will accept them as well.
One of my favorite places to send stuffed animals though is a non-profit called Stuffed Animals For Emergencies (SAFE). SAFE is a nationwide charity run by volunteers who will accept donations of stuffed animals among other things like books, crayons, blankets, clothes, and baby items. Their website states that “All stuffed animals must be ‘like new’, clean, free from stains and tears, and need to be appropriate to be given to a child in an emergency”.
The volunteers are spread throughout the country so take a look at their website to see if there is a contact near you. Also, chapters can choose what they will accept so pay attention to their list of acceptable donations.
We have one for Southeast Michigan that accepts books and blankets as well as stuffed animals. Unfortunately she’s not very close to my house. When I emailed her about donating some stuffed animals a few years ago though she was very responsive. I actually mailed her a large box of stuffed animals but you would never guess by looking at how many we still have.
The SAFE website has contact information for all of their chapters and information if you would like to start your own. They even have a stuffed animal cleaning guide that you can download. I think SAFE is by far the most worthwhile method to donate your stuffed animals that are in good condition. It did cost me some money to mail them but it was definitely worth it and I plan to do it again soon.
I think that applies to stuffed animals too.
A year ago I wrote a post about my kids playroom. At the time, we had just sold one of the largest items in the room and I felt like we were beginning to reclaim the floor. Sadly, it was a temporary victory.
This room has been a sore spot for a while. Every time I looked at the mess, I began to feel a bit of a panic attack. The last time we sort of cleaned it up was because we were having a lot of family coming to stay for the weekend. Then, it immediately went back to having every square inch of the floor covered in toys.
It was ridiculous to have toys well below any of my kids’ age level, especially when all they wanted to do was play video games. I finally grew so tired it, I decided I would have to take care of it myself.
I had two main goals: get as much off the floor as possible, and remove anything that the kids have outgrown or lost interest in.
I realized our first problem was how we all viewed the room. We had been referring to it as the “toy room” for almost 10 years when really it was a “family room“. I did my best to explain to the kids that we had a massive family room attached to the house that was being completely wasted by storing toys no one played with. I threatened to get rid of everything if they didn’t at least help a little. First, I had the kids put away the largest item; a reconfigurable tent that covered about a quarter of the room. Then, I got them to put away the hex bugs and magna-tiles.
Once I had a bit of space to work with, I was able to dive in. One of the first things I noticed was that things weren’t consolidated. Puzzles over here on this shelf. More puzzles over there next to some games. But wait, there’s more games over here and here. I began pulling out toys that I thought we no longer needed and making a big pile in the kitchen.
To sum it up, I’ve now been at it for almost two weeks but I’ve made a lot of progress. There is still a pile of toys in the kitchen that need to be sold or donated and a lot of the toys my kids outgrew are in the basement to be sorted further. Here are a few pictures of where I’m at. As overcrowded as it still looks, believe me when I say it was much worse before I started.
Copyright Dave Lubke and www.davelubke.com, 2017