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Help for the Decorating Commitment-Phobic

I didn’t realize the extent of my decorating commitment phobia until I started ripping open packages of 3M’s Command products — suddenly, I am free from my phobia — I am hanging things up on my walls like a maniac all because of an ingenious line of products by the same people who brought us the Post-It Note.

(Note:  I am not associated with 3M, and get no compensation from them — when I find something I like, I share it!)

It all started when I saw a set of spin art paper plate drying at the Junior League of Northern Virginia’s The Enchanted Forest Event. The Children’s Science Centerhad an exhibit there where children were creating spin art (using salad spinners!) and in order to create a place for the artwork to dry, the center’s executive director had hung a few Command hooks to the hotel’s walls and put string between them and several clothespin. I nearly had a heart attack at the thought of the marks that would leave on the wall. I had seen the commercials for Command products before, but having had a few bad experiences with products like that gummy party-tac stuff, I didn’t really believe in it. Well, when the exhibit was over, the director showed me how easily the reusable hooks came down — sure enough, no marks on the wall! (The hooks are reusable, you buy new sticky tabs for each use.)

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So, when JavaGirl managed to yank down the reindeer-stocking-holders-of-death (with their sharp antlers that scratched my face LAST year) from the mantle this year, I decided it would be safer for all of us if I replaced the pretty, yet hazardous, stocking holders with some Command hooks on our mantle. Although I had seen this done on their commercials, had it not been for the actual demonstration I saw at the hotel, I wouldn’t have attempted this on my own painted mantel. Lo and behold, all the stockings (even after being overstuffed by Santa!) hung by the chimney with care — and even withstood JavaGirl’s constant tugs.

I moved on to put up two hooks at kid-height so the kids could hang up their coats — something I’d been meaning to do but wasn’t sure where I wanted to put holes in the wall… was afraid of hooks that might catch eyes or what not being so low… I had a bunch of reasons for not committing to that project. The beauty of the Command hooks was that I could try it out and if I didn’t like the idea, I could take them down without having to do a repair job afterward. And the hooks don’t protrude as much as other hooks so they didn’t seem as hazardous. I’m pleased to report the kids are doing a great job of hanging up their own coats when they come home.

I was able to put up a temporary hook for our Christmas card holder and some other only-at-Christmas decorations.

And then I really went nuts! : )

JavaGirl got a wall-mounted AquaDoodlepad for Christmas. I ignored the gooey party tac stuff that came with it, mounted it with the Command poster strips, then bought a Command organizer bin to put all her assorted AquaDoodle paraphenalia (we have several AquaDoodle products) in one place. It’s a beautiful thing!

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My mother didn’t like us to have posters growing up b/c it would ruin the paint, and I was leaning the same way — much to my son’s chagrin when he got some coveted soccer posters. Now I have his Hooked on Phonics posters downstairs and his soccer posters upstairs all hanging on the walls, using the Command poster strips. I’ve already taken one poster down (when he completed a HOP level) and it came down easily. Mother and son can be happy.

And finally — all those framed pictures and other artwork projects gathering dust because I haven’t gotten around to hanging them. I finally realized it wasn’t just about finding the time — it was both about my fear of wanting to rearrange the room and not wanting holes in my wall, and also my perfectionism (what if I hang it crooked?) Now, with the picture hooks and picture hanging strips, hanging things takes seconds and if you don’t like the end result, you can reposition or remove entirely very easily! I finally hung some artwork in my daughter’s room I’ve been meaning to do for 2 years. First I never got around to it just because I was busy. Then I didn’t do it because we were moving her from the crib to the bed. Then because I know we are about to get her a different dresser and will rearrange the room. But with the strips, I hung the artwork, knowing that when I do rearrange her room, I can very easily move the pictures as well and won’t have to spackle and paint!

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I actually had to dust off the magnet board and the white board I’ve been meaning to hang up in my home office — that’s how long they’ve been waiting to be hung up. EEK! But a few picture hanging strips and VOILA – they are up and in use!

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The products aren’t as cheap as just using nails, but you can find coupons on their web siteand apparently there is a way to sign up for coupons and free samples. You can find Command products at most of the “mart” type stores (K Mart, Target, Wal-mart, etc.) and I’ve seen them even at grocery stores and drug stores. There are a lot of tips and ideas on the 3M web site as well, I haven’t even been to them all.

Command is a trademark of 3M Corporation. AquaDoodle is a trademark of AquaDoodle.

Mommy Is a Hypocrite

There are moments, in parenting, when you suddenly realize how very, very flawed you are. And I had one of those moments the other night.

A constant struggle in our house is The Battle of the Artwork. JavaBoy loves to create art projects — at preschool, in Sunday School, in nature classes, and just on his own. JavaGirl also creates art projects, although unfortunately hers are often on the walls or her body. But JavaBoy’s involve either large pieces of paper or lots of tiny pieces of loose paper, or are very elaborate 3D masterpieces. And I love and cherish every single one of them. I really do. I have magnetic clips to display them on the front door and kitchen door, and I have bought each child oversized portfolios so they can flip through their artwork, but there are some pieces of art that cannot be contained and that do not display well, i.e. the 3D “trophy” JavaBoy so carefully crafted out of construction paper.

Oh sure, the “experts” say take a photo of the artwork and throw out the actual piece. They don’t live with JavaBoy — who has the memory of an elephant. Who remembers that the nutcracker he hasn’t seen in a year — from when he was THREE — is missing a single small wooden piece — even before we unpacked it. JavaBoy is a very sentimental, very precise type of a boy — it is part of what makes him uniquely him and most of the time it’s wonderful — except when you are trying to get rid of something. I can’t sneak things out of the house — when it is time to get rid of a toy, it’s with discussion. So tossing artwork is not an option, unless it’s pre-approved by JavaBoy (and he does, at times, agree, that it is time to let something go.)

But oh-too-many-times I get the “but Mommy, that’s very special to me!” Even if I didn’t see any signs of said artwork being special to him.

So while feeling frustrated about that… I looked around my own private space, my home office slash scrapbooking room. Which has become too cluttered, too crowded. What could I get rid of? How can I make this space a little more zen-like? I couldn’t possibly get rid of anything, it’s all too important to me. I mean all these tools, I still use. All these books. Wait a minute… I have my own pieces of artwork. Pieces I have made in classes. But pieces I don’t necessarily love, just held onto b/c I made them. Like the “coffee table tag book” that I don’t really like. It sits there, with no pictures, because it’s just not “me.” Or rather, it’s not “us.”

I love my husband dearly and I’m a sentimental woman, but he’s more on the stoic side, so our relationship is a solid, but not expressed as a gushy kind of love. Don’t get me wrong, we say “I love you” countless times a day, and JavaDad expresses it in other ways like the way he makes me tea or brings me a Diet Coke every morning and rubs my tired feet every night, but in the scrapbooking world, there are people who feel the need to put sentimental phrases on every photo along the lines of “I think of you with every beat of my heart and every breath in every moment of my day” and this particular coffee table book has that on every page. If I used that and put it on our coffee table (okay, I took all the coffee tables out of the house when JavaBoy cut his head open on the corner of one when he was learning to walk, and haven’t put any back b/c JavaGirl climbed on them, so right now it would more likely be a “train table” book), JavaDad would probably vomit and I would feel very disingenuous and our friends would probably think one of us was having an affair. Truth be told, I think of JavaDad quite frequently throughout the day, but I’m also thinking of things like “gosh this carpet needs cleaning” and “holy cow when did JavaGirl do THAT to the wall” and “didn’t I just GO to the grocery store? How have these children managed to EAT everything in the fridge?” So there are a few other thoughts going on besides how much I adore my man.

So, back to being a hypocrite. I clearly am hanging on to too many things simply because I “created” them. I don’t even LOVE them — I just made them and feel compelled to hang onto them. Perhaps it is time for that tag book to either move along to someone who is more willing to rip her beating heart out for her man for breakfast or to dismantle it and take the parts I do like and put the rest in the trash. The adorable Mark Miller fabric birthday hat with the feather trim that I made at Great American Scrapbook convention? I don’t know — totally love it — it makes me smile — maybe I get to keep that. Maybe I take a picture? But I think I need to sit down and really re-evaluate my own “priceless artwork” stash and set a good example for my son in periodically re-evaluating what is still special and when it is time for things to move along.

Fair, is fair, right?