I went to Barnes & Noble today.

By myself.

Do you understand what that means? If you're single or childless, you may not be able to fully appreciate this statement. It means car air vents directing air at me rather than bypassing me for the backseat. It means listening to the radio with no noise competition. No "Ian's spitting up" updates. Basically, the car ride means the backseat no longer exists.

After I resist the initial temptation to head towards the children's section of Barnes, going alone means sitting at a small table out of the way with my frappaccino and coffee cake and no requests for a drink or a bite. It means no potty breaks. (In fact, like any mom determined to make the best use of limited alone time, I exhibit my "big girl" ability to hold it so as not to waste time on something so mundane as using the restroom.) Ultimately, no interruptions. And that's how I got to discover two books I plan on adding to my library.

Salt, Lemons, Vinegar and Baking Soda

This book convinced me these are all the cleaning products I need. It's full of recipes for cleaning and other household or beauty products using these basic ingredients. Sure, they're pretty basic and could easily be made up or found online. But I'm sure I'd use many of them and could use a quick reference like this. I've always wanted a bowl of vibrant yellow lemons to brighten up my kitchen or dining room, and now I have reason to keep up the supply.

The Fast and Furious 5 Step Organizing Solution

I originally picked this up thinking it'd be fun to flip through the organization photos for quick inspiration. I basically read through the book (of course skipping select portions that didn't apply to me) in this one sitting. Everything she wrote spoke directly to me and opened my eyes to major changes I need to make. Her basic principle is that if it's not being used now, it's not necessary and needs to go. There's some things she recommends that seem extreme, but I agree in theory and am anxious to try it out.

One extreme example is her ideas on photo storage/organization. First, she suggests the simple suggestion that photos should be put in a box with basic dates to go through later. (Basically, she says, around retirement if one wishes, because life happens in the meantime.) She says the key to not wasting time on photo organization, however, is to not take so many photos. I've been realizing this more and more as I'm trying to edit our own digital photos. So, she suggests that no more than 10 a year are necessary. Basically 1-2 of each birthday is enough, just a couple from major vacations (of people; the scenic shots should be left to the postcards), etc. This seems extreme, but she points out that if someone does only this and lives until they're 80, that's 800 photos to document their life. That's more than enough for even the most detailed of biographers (or so she points out). I've been realizing to some degree that I've been taking WAY too many photos; this concept helped me realize a little more just how "too many" I've been taking.

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So, I went to Barne's & Noble today. Alone. It lasted 3 hours. It wasn't listed in my indulgences book, but I'd say a break from mothering is the mother of all indulgences.

Thank you to Daniel's thoughtful students for watching the kids, and to Daniel who so lovingly encouraged me to stay longer.