Thursday, February 23, 2012

40 Bags - bags # 21-23

I spent about 15 minutes working in the garage yesterday afternoon.

One bag of trash, one "bag" of plastic grocery bags that are going to the recycling bin at the store, and one "bag" of cardboard boxes, which we broke down and put in the bin. Remember the other day when I was lamenting because I'm not a hoarder? I was getting a good laugh at myself yesterday gathering together all the small shipping cartons and old grocery sacks that had been stuffed or stacked or piled around or otherwise stashed away in the garage because - and here's the funny part - I might need it someday! And also because for whatever reason it couldn't be dealt with at the very moment I had to get it off the kitchen table and so I shoved it into a pile in the garage. Where it has sat. And sat. Remember my new year's resolution to deal with things in a more timely manner? This is a perfect example of why I need that more to the forefront of my thoughts and not lurking around in the back of my head somewhere.

The garage looks remarkably better already, but I still have quite a bit to do. There are things I want to do out there but can't because of all the clutter:
  • I would like to park my car in the garage for one thing,
  • I would like to have the room to refinish some furniture (which is currently being stored out there) in the garage for another.
  • I would like to be able to sweep out the leaves and pine needles that get blown in under the garage door but there is so much stuff in there that I can't really sweep except for around things which totally feels pointless and isn't very effective anyway.
  • I would like to have an exterminator come and kill all the Daddy Long Legs spiders that are all over my garage ceiling but I'm embarrassed by "the mess".

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

To Do lists, who knew?

A few weeks ago, while cleaning out a drawer, I found an old journal-style notebook that I had written in a little but was mostly unused. It was too good to throw away, but I'm doing my "journaling" on my blog now, and I know that I won't use this notebook for that anymore.

So I turned it into a sort of daily planner, or a list of things I need to do. That list is quite lengthy most of the time, and I think my brain must be turning to mush or something because I keep forgetting to do some of the things that are on the To Do list that I usually keep in my head. It's helped me not lay awake at night worrying that I'm missing something vital that I should be doing but can't remember what that vital thing is. I write down in my little book whatever pops into my head that needs attention.

I've been writing the date and the list of tasks that need to be done. I cross them off when they are finished, and it makes me feel good about myself. I like that it's not a real daily planner - the kind with a separate page for each day - because some of these jobs might take me a week or more to finish, and this way it doesn't matter if I finish it that day or not. When I'm done with something I just go back to the page I wrote it on and cross it out. I don't have to re-write the unfinished jobs on the next day's page. In it I can write grocery lists, addresses or phone numbers that I need, directions, recipes, and notes to myself. There's plenty of room. There's no calendary pressure.

The phrase "Calendary Pressure" is my own invention. It means the anxiety you feel when February 22nd's list won't fit on February 22nd's page but bleeds over on to February 23 or 24. At the same time, some days are completely empty, so it feels like a waste when you the year is over and you're throwing away a half-empty planner. This way, some pages can have 2 or 3 days worth of list on it, some days' lists might go on for 2 or 3 pages.

I do still have Calendary Envy, which is what I feel when I see people who have a "real" daily planner and seem organized and perfect and "put together". I've tried it in the past and I have made my peace with the fact that I don't have that kind of life. Or personality. Or whatever it is that those people have that I don't. Which peace, incidentally, doesn't cure Calendary Envy at all.

At any rate, I've found something that works for me. I like my notebook because it's spiral-bound which means that I can open it all the way and spin the front around to the back, which you can't do with a stitch-bound book. No trying to write in the crease, and the book lays open perfectly flat. I also like that it has a hard cover, which makes it easy to write on when I'm not at my desk or some other good writing place. I can write in it when I'm sitting in my comfy chair or in my car. The only thing that would make it a little bit better was if it fit in my purse. When this one is full, I'll look for one that does.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

40 Bags - bag #20

The "school supplies box". We've had a school supplies stash for years and years and years, and every summer when school supplies were on sale I'd stock up on various things to put in the bin.

Over the years some things didn't get taken to school, and at the end of the year leftovers would come home, and it's all sort of piled up. I was able to get rid of a bag nearly full of trash (partially used spiral notebooks, worn pocket folders, crumpled notebook paper) and a small pile of supplies to be donated to the elementary school across the street.

Because I had cleaned out my closet there was room on a shelf for a stack of still-good notebook filler paper, a few new 3-ring binders, and some clean graph paper. In the chest of drawers in my closet there is a drawer for kids' craft supplies where, because I purged it a couple of weeks ago, there was room for a couple boxes of new crayons, some safety scissors, and a gallon-size ziploc bag full of colored map pencils. Do I really need that many colored pencils? Probably not. I do like them, but I will think about it a bit more, and perhaps donate the majority of them.

It feels good to get the giant green bin out of my not-green-master bathroom where it's been living under my vanity area for years. I do love the feeling of spaciousness when things are cleared out.

Halfway there!

Monday, February 20, 2012

40 Bags - bag #19

I'm starting to get a little bit worried that I won't have 40 bags to get rid of. I'm getting down to the harder stuff. Stuff I have to make a decision about, or that is already overwhelming to me. I've felt a little bit resentful the last two days because I feel like I have to get rid of stuff I still want just to make it to 40 bags. I feel like I'm being punished because I am a responsible person who routinely takes out the trash and donates extra stuff. If I wasn't, then it would count if I took 20 bags of old newspapers out of here, or if I had 15 years worth of worn out kid's clothes to clear out, but since those things are part of my regular chores routine I don't have them piled up around here, and so I can't count them as part of my 40 bags. I feel inclined to say, "That's not fair!". I've also felt an inexplicable desire to go shopping.

I do recognize on an intellectual level that that is ridiculous.

No one has set me down and tried to make me see the error of my ways. No one is calling me a hoarder. No one (except me) says we have too much stuff in the house. All of this purging and de-cluttering and desire to organize and simplify is coming from within me. And if I want to quit purging at 20 bags, no one is going to care or notice. But I think that working through these feelings might be a part of the process of learning to live a different kind of life, and I'm trying to understand it and embrace it as such.

While I've had a bit of a cold in the last week I've been doing a little bit of reading around the Internet and watching Hoarders and it's helped me see that there is clutter even in:
  1. the pantry
  2. the craft room
  3. the garage

Okay, the garage was no surprise to me. I just don't want to go out there. But the pantry? That's where I keep my food storage! And the craft room? That's where I keep my own special stuff that's just mine and doesn't belong to anybody else. Which is something that a oldest of 8 children and long-time married mother of 4 needs.

Or so I've been telling myself.

There were these crazy ladies on Hoarders that had old, expired, unusable food, and too, too many crafting supplies. One crazy hoarding lady even said, "I make jewelry, I scrapbook, I knit, I crochet. I do it all." It was like she had been spying on me. My craft supplies aren't messy or disorganized or dirty or covered in rat feces, but there are far too many of them. It's like I can't decide what I do for fun and relaxation.

So here's my rationalization. As I finish my projects and give them away, that will count as de-cluttering. I will be clearing out drawers, bins and cabinets and not refilling them. Clutter isn't just stuff that is in piles stacked in corners and heaped on tabletops because it has no real place to go; clutter lives in bins and drawers and cabinets, too. Clutter is the stuff that diminishes your quality of life by its presence in your home. If I feel guilty or overwhelmed by the number of unstarted or unfinished craft projects, then it can be called clutter.

"Material blessings, when they pay beyond the category of need, are weirdly fruitful of headache." ~Philip Wylie

None of the hard decisions today, though. Tonight I needed an easy spot to work on so I cleaned out the game closet. One 18" high stack (= 1 bag) of puzzles going to Goodwill. My Little Prince and I have already done these puzzles together. Just because the puzzles still have all the pieces doesn't mean I have to keep them - it means someone else will have fun doing them too. And I'm not getting rid of the memories or the puzzle-night tradition, just the puzzles we've already done.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Knitting for Buttercup

I used up a good portion of a fuzzy* ball of purple yarn to knit this ear-flap hat for Buttercup. It's a little bit big on her - I used the only ear-flap cap pattern I have which is sized for teens but I thought using a lighter weight yarn and smaller needles would make it smaller than it did.

Oh well. It will fit her for a long time.

I think she looks pretty darn cute in it. I can't stop her (or her mother, when she tries it on) from yanking down on the dangling braids. I'm sure they'll come loose eventually.

*Note to self: knitting with fuzzy, furry yarn is a giant pain in the rear. Try to steer clear of it in the future.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

40 Bags - bags #13-18

Today we went through the girls' room purging clothes that no longer fit. We also went through James's room doing the same thing. We had more than a few things that were ratty/stained/holey/otherwise not worth donating that are going in the trash.

We ended up with 2 bags of clothes to be donated to Goodwill, and the things on hangers - 2 suits and 2 large scout shirts that together count as 1 more bag - are going to people we know who can use them, and 3 bags of trash.

I've done 18 bags in 15 days so I'm pretty much on track. It feels so good to be working through these rooms and clearing out all the excess.

Friday, February 17, 2012

What a difference

that tackling one small job can make!

The window above my kitchen sink* gets dirty so fast. Soapy water splashes up from the sink, and other unidentifiable bits get stuck there. It seems like a pointless job because as soon as I wash the window it gets dirty again. Which fact doesn't stop me from doing the laundry or the dishes, or vacuuming the carpets, or sweeping the floor or wiping down the kitchen table. Or washing my hair or my hands or making my bed or any of the other thousand things I do and re-do every day and week. Why this one thing - washing the kitchen window - qualifies as a pointless job and therefore not worthy of doing, I do not know.

I grabbed the Windex and a rag yesterday, dragged over a chair from the kitchen table, and went after it. A minute or two later and I had a clear view to my sweet boy playing battle in the backyard. It kind of makes me want to wash all the windows in the house. I'm hoping that the feeling will pass in a minute.

*This window doesn't have a covering. It's because this window, as well as the big window in our master bathroom, have tile that extends up from the backsplash to become the window sill and about 8" up the sides of the window casings. It's a dumb set-up because it makes the inside measurement of the window opening at the bottom different than the inside top measurement so blinds and shades don't fit properly. I've nixed the idea of curtains because they would get dirty as often as the window does for the exact same reason, and washing the curtains and rehanging them all the time seems like a lot of work. Doesn't it? I don't know and so the window remains uncovered and looking bare and in need of something.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

40 bags - bag #12

The kitchen is never too bad because I tend to go through drawers and cabinets, sorting and de-cluttering and straightening, while I'm waiting for the food to cook or the sink to fill or whatever.

I did manage to get a bag full out of there today. It's just odds and ends, plus a few old phone books, a couple of expired bottles of food, and a bunch of worn-0ut, blistery fridge containers. Also going out the door is a mini muffin pan, and a Fry Daddy deep-fat fryer.*

Regarding the fridge containers, I saw a tip on another blog that suggested putting together the bowls and lids before storing them in the cabinet. I've never done that before because it seems like a waste of space when they all neatly nest inside each other.

The thing is, they don't really neatly nest inside each other. And when I'm putting food away after dinner I can never seem to find the right lid without trying half a dozen of them first, which then sometimes results in the not-the-right lid getting dirty (and having to be washed and dried and put away again) which is so frustrating.

The other thing that was pointed out is that if I need so many fridge containers, I am probably putting food in the fridge that will never again see the light of day before it's too late. Resulting in waste. If I am out of clean fridge containers, it's past time to have a leftovers night.

Another problem with this cabinet is that I use my big measuring cups a lot, and having to reach around or take one or more out to get to the right one is an inefficient way to cook. And, again, sometimes results in getting dirty some dishes that I'm not even using. Storing the lids snapped onto the bowls and getting rid of the lids container frees up space so that my measuring cups don't have to be stacked two deep into the cabinet.

It seems like so much work and effort to think about all this. Is it a waste of time? I don't know, but I hope that sorting it out will result in using my kitchen and equipment more efficiently over the long term. I spend so much time in the kitchen - it should be easy and enjoyable and not frustrating and troublesome.

Cabinet before:

Not too bad but not really working great for me either.

Cabinet after:
When my Pretty Girl and our sweet little Buttercup get out on their own, I'll have another shelf to use that right now is filled with baby dishes/cups/etc.

* I had to have that mini muffin pan and that Fry Daddy. I mean, I had to have them. Now, after having been used only once or twice, they haven't been used in years, literally years, and are useless to me, and are looking for a new home. Note to self: stop buying stuff. Just stop. You don't need it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What a difference

2 minutes and 20 seconds makes.

Actually, the fact that it only took a couple of minutes is the proof that I needed to continue on as I began. When you have less stuff and you pay attention to it once in a while, it takes less work. Because there were only a few things that had piled up on the desk (the largish pile of paperwork and lists of necessary steps to ensure that my Little Prince gets his visa to Argentina, paperwork from the termite inspection man who came on Monday, some papers from Taylor's trip to the dentist last week, some tax forms for returns that are still in progress, and only one small pile of mail to be sorted/shredded/tossed) AND because my files are cleaned out and it's easy to file stuff now, it wasn't as much of a nightmare as it looked. This is stuff that's important, so if I lost all or part of those papers I'd be in trouble. So there's a little voice inside my head repeating, over and over again, "Do you know where everything is?", and I didn't. I thought it was on the desk, but what if it wasn't? What if some of the pile had fallen off the desk into the trash can that sits there beside the desk? All of which was making my stomach hurt.

Above is the messy, strife-filled desk. Below is the peaceful, calm, all-is-well desk less than 2 1/2 minutes later.
Want to know why the messy desk bothers me so much? I figured it out. It's because as I (and everyone else) walk up the stairs, there it is "BAM!" staring you right in the face. It's the same sort of deal as making your bed - if you make your bed even an untidy rooms looks neater. The reverse is true too - an unmade bed makes a tidy room look messy. So with a cleared-off desk, you aren't as likely to be annoyed by or even aware of the smudges on the woodwork or the dust on the curtains, and the disorganization isn't keeping you up at night with a bellyache. It's housekeeping for lazy people who just want to be able to sleep at night!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

One down, a hundred to go

Today I finished an afghan. I made it with the talent, the pattern, and the yarn that I inherited from my grandmother .

There is so much yarn that I have from her. You have no idea. I might be trying to use up her yarn for the rest of my life. This particular blanket used a good percentage of the dozens of large and small balls of a variety of light blues that she had saved, a giant skein of aran, and a giant skein of frosty green.

This blanket measures approximately 5 1/2 feet by 6 1/2 feet. It's a big one, and it's super warm which has been nice because the last few days it's been cold here. Yesterday my little Buttercup started a cold, and we cuddled together under this blanket while I was working on the edging.

It's going to my sister, because when she visited me and I asked her if she wanted it, she said yes.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


I had a busy day today. I learned some things, and I also learned some things about myself. Although I tend to feel overwhelmed when I look around at all there is to be done, and how big the world is, and how many people are in it, I feel like I gained a little bit of insight today.

I am grateful that I live by faith. I am so grateful that there is a plan for my life, and that I have a Creator who loves me, and loves the people I care about, and loves all people everywhere. I am so very grateful that I have a part in His plan.

When I look at a photo of the earth I get a little bit freaked out. How can I live up here in Texas and send my son, my Little Prince, all the way down to the bottom of the world to be a missionary in Argentina? It's so very, very far away. Then I remember that it isn't so much "how" I can do this, but why:

"And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men; and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem." Moses 7:62

Saturday, February 11, 2012

End of Week 7

It's a Bountiful Basket week! This week we got:
  • a head of Romaine lettuce
  • 8 Roma tomatoes
  • 2 eggplants
  • 1 big zucchini
  • 4 green bell peppers
  • 2 avocados
  • 5 ears of corn
  • 1 pineapple
  • 1 quart of strawberries
  • 3 lemons
  • 5 apples
  • 8 bananas

I will have to go on an online hunt for eggplant recipes.

This week for dinner we had:

  • stuffed shells that I had made before and stashed in the freezer
  • creamy broccoli/cauliflower soup that should have been but didn't actually turn out to be a hit
  • pork roll-ups
  • orange chicken and fried rice
  • chili
  • fried egg sandwiches
  • beef stew (from the freezer) and cornbread

The fried rice that we had with the orange chicken is a new recipe that I found on a new favorite blog. This is something I will make again and again. The orange chicken was so-so, from now on I'll just add a bottle of cooked chicken directly to the fried rice and call it dinner. Or maybe I'll call it "chicken fried rice".

This week I spent $67.84 on groceries*. Woot!

*I feel like I need to tell the whole truth about my grocery bills. The money I'm counting when I say what I spent on groceries is for breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and other things like milk, butter, eggs and sour cream. I have set aside $100 per month to stock up on meat and other things like canned/frozen vegetables or cheese when there is a great sale going somewhere, and to replenish my basic food storage. I buy ground beef, chicken, and pork in bulk when it's on sale and process it in my pressure canner. I am using lots of food from my basic food storage pretty much every day, things like:

  • rice
  • beans
  • oats
  • sugar
  • wheat and flour (I've been baking all our bread and have discovered it's not that much of a hassle if I just work it into my schedule on a day when I'm home for a couple hours. I like to start it first thing in the morning.)
  • mashed potato flakes
  • etc.

I'm not figuring the cost of all those items into my weekly grocery bill. If I was it would be a lot higher. My rationale for this is that we are temporarily living more frugally while all my adult children are temporarily living at home and temporarily eating up everything as fast as I can prepare it. We also are trying to pay off some debts that we owe.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The little red hen

You know this story, right? The little red hen finds some wheat, plants it, tends it, harvests it and carries it to the miller to be ground into flour, then bakes it into bread. That's when all of her friends are suddenly interested in helping her. You know, because it's time to eat the bread. She tells them to take a hike while she eats it by herself.

What a story. So opposite of the wise ant who worked hard all summer and then found that he had sympathy in his heart for the foolish grasshopper who had wasted his time playing his fiddle all summer. The ant shared his food with the hungry grasshopper who then played music for the ant during the long, cold winter.

I baked bread today with flour that I ground from grains of wheat. I did not grow the wheat but I have it carefully stored away. Then I finished canning the rest of my chicken and got it all cleaned up and put away. I have 43 pints of cooked chicken in my store room.

Take that, little red hen.

I took a picture of my bottles of chicken but decided not to share it - it looks like some sort of science-experiment-gone-wrong. That's okay though. I know it will be delicious.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Books and covers and judging

I was watching one of those "hoarders" shows a week ago and the lady on there had been through some pretty horrible stuff - a violent rape and the death of her child. Those two traumatic events triggered something in her to start hoarding.

While I was watching her talk about these things I realized something - I do the opposite thing for the exact same reasons.

I feel so much anxiety when things at home are grubby and disorganized because:
  • how will the cops get good fingerprints if everything is dirty?
  • how will I know if something is missing if all my possessions are in chaos or if I have so many that I don't even know what I have?
  • if I force myself to purge things on a regular basis then I will desensitize myself to loss and when I am forced to lose something it won't hurt so much.
If I have to suffer trauma and violence and tragic loss and then nothing can be done for me - no perpetrators identified or captured or brought to justice - because of the way I keep house then the pain and devastation become partly my fault.

I know that these messages are tricks my head plays on me. They aren't true, but they feel good to me. Just like a hoarder.

The relationship between people and their things is so complex. And just because someone looks and behaves in a way that looks "normal" and good and healthy, you never can tell what the psychology behind a person's actions really is. When they see me getting rid of things other people will make comments to me about how they really need to do that too, or that I am so good and responsible and hard-working, or something along those lines. When people respond like this it makes me feel like a poser and a fraud. I would like to respond that throwing out unnecessary things and living an organized and tidy life is natural for me, and that I am good and clean through and through. The real truth is that there is a lot of darkness and fear that motivates my behavior. I've noticed that making decisions about my possessions while I'm doing this '40 bags in 40 days' project is bringing up to the surface a lot of stuff that I usually keep deep. I have tears at the ready and a lump in my throat these days.

Even though this is my truth, and there is a little crazy behind it, I do actually love and truly prefer things clean and sparse and uncomplicated but still decorated. I love the way this pantry looks (and you can see all of her awesomeness at her blog here):

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

40 Bags - bags #8 -11

My closet is one of the closets in the house that is not over-run with stuff.

Or so I thought.

I worked for only an hour or two and came up with 3 bags and a box full of things to get out of the house. It is old craft stuff and shoes I'll never wear again. These things went to the trash or to Goodwill, and the suitcase with a broken wheel is in the trash.

I haven't gone through my clothes yet, and there is a pile of memorabilia that must be sorted through. So much for me thinking that my closet was pretty well under control! It was, and yet I can easily take perhaps 3 more bags out of there in addition to the 4 I got rid of today.

I was thinking today about what to do with my old high school yearbooks. They seem like something I should save or maybe something other people would expect me to save, but high school was not a happy time for me at all for a lot of reasons. I don't have contact with any of the people I knew in high school, nor do I really want to, and so I think I will throw the yearbooks out and just try to forget about it and move on with my life. Why keep something that brings back unhappy memories? The organizing and de-cluttering blogs and articles I've been reading say to keep things that bring beauty and comfort to your home and your life. In other words, if you don't love it, get rid of it. All of which rings true with something I learned from looking around at the home of a friend several years ago, where I first got inspired to bring peace and tranquility into my home by carefully choosing what items to keep in my home. I realized that I wanted to only own those things that are:
  1. useful -meaning that I or some other person who lives with me actually do use it, like clothes that fit, for example.
  2. beautiful -meaning that it adds loveliness to the atmosphere in our home rather than detracts from it.
  3. functional - meaning that it is in good repair, isn't missing any pieces, etc.
My old high school yearbooks don't fit any of those criteria. Out they go.

Today I canned chicken. We had run out, and boneless, skinless breasts were on sale at one of the grocery stores in town. I still have more to do tomorrow. It's a bit of work up front, but so much easier in the long run, not to mention that if I have it in my storage, I don't have to buy it when it's not on sale!

Monday, February 6, 2012

End of Week 6

Last week I spent $95.16 in the grocery store. I went over my budget by quite a bit, and that doesn't include some meals that we either ate out or brought in. I don't know what happened, other than that I kind of lost some of my momentum and diligence and good attitude. I think that will happen from time to time, and the only thing I can think to do about it is try to get right back on that horse this week.

Last week for dinner we had:
  • grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup
  • tacos
  • stuffed shells
  • bieroc (cabbage, rice, and meat wrapped up in bread)
  • take-out pizza - paid for by the kids!
  • take-out chicken nuggets and fries
  • leftovers

In January I spent $375 and some change on groceries. In November 2011* I spent $800.06 in the grocery store. It's obvious to me from my comparison that it is easier to keep a handle on the grocery budget by using a menu plan with a grocery list and then paying cash at the register rather than my debit card. I plan to keep doing that. Even if I lose my grip on it a little bit like I did last week, the damage overall is minimal and the difference is huge.

One great thing I've also noticed in the last month about making a menu is that we don't tend to eat the same thing over and over. I don't like having the same 10 things for dinner. Sometimes I just get sick to death of eating the same thing for dinner that I had last week and the week before that and that week before that. The funny thing is that when I'm sitting down to make the week's menu I can't think of anything I know how to make - I end up looking online and in my recipe books for ideas and come up with something new. The stuffed shells we had last week are a good example - I had never made them before, and although it's basically noodles, cheese, and sauce it was in a new format, and therefore different than the regular old spaghetti I know how to make. (And that my Mr. Dub is not all that crazy about!) Planning ahead and making a menu is smart - it creates more choices for you instead of fewer choices. The question, "What's for dinner?" doesn't sound like the tolling of a death bell. It's like a miracle. Who knew?!?!?!

*The reason I picked November to compare to is because in December we have lots of family birthdays and Christmas when we have special foods and extra grocery expenses. I will plan to budget for those special occasions in the future. November and January are "normal" months for us.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Where Can I Turn for Peace? Hymns, #129

Where can I turn for peace?
Where is my solace
When other sources cease
To make me whole?
When with a wounded heart,
Anger, or malice
I draw myself apart
Searching my soul?

Where, when my aching grows,
Where, when I languish,
Where, in my need to know,
Where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand
To calm my anguish?
Who, who can understand?
He, only One.

He answers privately,
Reaches my reaching
In my Gethsemane,
Savior and Friend.
Gentle the peace he finds
For my beseeching.
Constant he is and kind,
Love without end.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

40 Bags - bags #2-7

We worked in Jake's room today. We went through all the clothes in his closet including the hand-me-down boxes, and through all his dresser drawers. We also sorted through his toys, and he made the choice to pass along all his Imaginext toys. In total we are giving away 3 bags of clothes and 3 boxes of toys. If I give away the equivalent of 6 bags on one day, does that mean that I can take the next 5 days off? Maybe, but I feel like I'm on a roll!

Getting rid of the Imaginext toys has made me kind of sad. It feels pivotal. I have good memories of looking for them and buying them for Jake at birthdays and Christmases, and he has had such great fun playing with them. Getting rid of them means that Jake is growing up, and I'm not even really sad that he is growing up, because that's actually quite awesome. I guess I'm a little sad because it means that our family has moved on from one phase to another. We don't have any more small children. That is all behind us now. What the future holds we can only guess.

We do have Buttercup and she's awesome. And of course we expect that there will be more grandchildren to come along. But the Imaginext set-up isn't something that I want to have to deal with as a Grammie. All those little pieces to keep up with and save from being swallowed? No thanks. That's a mom job, not a Grammie job.

There is a lot more room now in Jake's bedroom. I think when I'm all done with my de-cluttering I'll give you a home tour on my blog.

Friday, February 3, 2012

40 Bags - bag #1

I am drowning in stuff over here. It's seriously affecting my quality of life. I think most people walking into our home wouldn't automatically think,"Wow, they have so many things!" but it's still too much for me to feel comfortable in. I feel jittery, anxious, and nervous when I'm trying to relax in my home. I feel claustrophobic and overwhelmed and like there is no place for the eye to rest.

I've been looking over de-cluttering and organizing blogs and websites and trying to figure out what I can do to get more happy when I'm in my home. There's a lot of information out there, and I've whittled it down to a manageable task.

I found an idea online that was called "40 Bags in 40 Days". The idea is that you get rid of a trash-bag full of stuff every day for 40 days. I think 40 is an arbitrary number but it has a sort of style that I like. I'm going to do this.

The rules I've invented for this project:
  • A bag can be filled with trash or donate items. I don't have to fill a bag of each every time. And I'm not saving things for a garage sale - a garage sale is more work, not less, and I'd have to keep all the stuff in preparation for the theoretical "garage sale day" in the future. This defeats my purpose which is to get it out of here.
  • I only have to do one bag in a day. When the bag is full I can stop working and do something else.
  • I don't have to fill a bag every day. I can take a day off when I feel like it. If I fill two bags on one day, that counts as two days.
  • I will take everything out of a space and then put back only the things I'm going to keep. I think this will help me when I'm making decisions. I would rather feel like I'm choosing things to keep rather than choosing things to get rid of.
  • I'm not going to get crazy about deep-cleaning or painting the areas that I'm working on. That's not what this project is about. I will wipe out/dust drawers and shelves, and vacuum closets and rooms as I go. That's it.
  • I'm not going to try to convince myself that 40 bags is all it will take to get this place in ship-shape. If I have to do another "40-Bags in 40 Days" I will. But for now I'm focusing on the first 40 bags only.

Today I started with my desk - a known and continuous source of anxiety. I took everything out of three drawers, working on one drawer at a time, fixed the hanging file rod that has been driving me crazy for years, and made fresh folders and categories. I think this will help me find things more easily. One thing I realized is that I don't know where Jake's shot record is. I made a file for Jake that has his important papers in it, and when going through the big pile of stuff from the drawer his shot record wasn't there. I have looked in all my usual stash-spots. Not there. I'm upset and worried. I remember that I had it out last summer when I had to show it to the school nurse. I keep having pictures flash through my head of where I've seen it - I think they are imaginary because according to my memory I've seen it everywhere from the top of the refrigerator to the napkin cubbyhole in my car. What happens to you and your kid if you lose his shot record?

I shredded a bunch of old tax records and bills. I threw away a ton of paper from my files because I realized something huge: just because something is valuable information doesn't mean I have to be the keeper of it. I'm sure it is all available on the internet, and even if it isn't, I haven't used the majority of the information in my file drawers up to this point anyway. It's not like I'm 20 years old or just starting out. I'm on the wrong side of 45, and I've been married for nearly 23 years. If I haven't used that information by now, I'm pretty sure I can manage to live just fine without it. I'm telling you, it was an epiphany.

One of the tips I read online was that when you are deciding where to put things you ask yourself, "When I need this, where will I look for it?" and I know that when I need generic information about, for example, food storage or home decor, I always look online before I look in my files. Unless there's a hurricane and the power is out. Which is why I kept some basic info in my files - first aid instructions, how to turn off the utilities, etc.

There is a fourth drawer in my desk but I'm tired of doing this for today and I've filled up my one trash bag. That means today is a success! The other drawer is there for another day.

*Note to self: stop picking up all the handouts when you go to emergency preparedness fairs. Stop tearing pretty pictures out of home decorating magazines. You don't need these things in your files. It's all online.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I'll tell you a secret

Well, maybe it's not a secret. Maybe it's quite obvious to everybody by the look on my face when I am confronted with the source of my fear.

I'm afraid of little dogs.

Actually quite terrified by them. Big dogs make me nervous but seem gentler and more predictable than little dogs. Big dogs go on about their business. If a big dog is walking down the street, it doesn't get up in your face just because you happen to be walking down the street too. They settle down when there's nothing to be excited about. If you are dumb enough to get up in its business, sure, a big dog will take you down. But generally a big dog doesn't want to kill you if he doesn't have to. I think it's because generally people treat their big dogs like dogs.

People treat their little dogs like babies, though. I think that messes up the minds of the little dogs. It makes them psycho. Little dogs are mean. Bitey. Growly. Snarly. Little dogs totally freak out over what seems to be nothing, or maybe it's just that those things are invisible to humans. You can't walk by a little dog, or the home of a little dog, without it going all crazy/psycho/nuts on you. It'll try to kill you if it can.

Little dogs are scary. People who own little dogs say that they are sweet and lovable and gentle. And maybe those dogs are exactly that to those people. To everyone else though, you can see it in their little beady eyes - "I'll kill you if I can".