Friday, November 25, 2011


It is lovely to have a houseguest to clean up for.  Especially when, while I'm freaking out beforehand, my husband cleans house from the list that I drew up before I read it and realized that there was no possible way I could get all that done.

We cleaned enough that we were even able to celebrate Thanksgiving at our dining room table, eating there for the first time (quesadillas, sausage, and mashed potatoes, with chocolate truffles for dessert).

I've sent a large box of toys, books, and clothing to a friend who just had a baby boy.
We took two boxes and a large bag of things to Goodwill.
And I cleaned the breakfast room table, chairs, and floor.

I went through TG's toys and culled the ones which are too young for him, the ones he doesn't play with, the ones he has too many of, and the really annoying ones.  There are actually empty toy bins!  I need to do the books next, of course, but he's already enjoying being able to find his toys, and seems to (so far) be able to put all his cars in the bucket.  (He especially likes the bucket because it has a handle and he can carry it around to wherever he needs to go.)

I've been quite lazy before this, but, as my husband says, after our efforts this past week, "It's starting to look like a house."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Irish dance shoes, little baby clothes, and consignment update

Mostly a lazy day, then quite a bit of exertion in the afternoon.  TG recently turned three, so we've looked at two schools of Irish dance in the area.  (There's a third, to the north, but their website says age four is the youngest they'll take.)  I really like the one we went to today... and there's an adult class.  I was blown away by the teacher; I really like her.  The main problem seems to be my lungs...  It's probably also a good thing that there's no next-door Italian bakery, too.

Anyhow.  Focus.  As relates to the blog...  Before we went, I tried on my dance shoes, figuring that they'd still fit, as I was in my late teens when I stopped dancing (back surgery will tend to put at least a temporary stop to jumping up and down vigorously).  But no.  My feet are now too long.  Another reason that I really like this dance school is that there's a basket of shoes, free to anyone who needs them.  So at least two pairs of my shoes will go into that basket next week, and I have a set of gilleys which fits.  (The other three pairs wouldn't be useful: two sets of gilleys are ... heavily used (and one has my name in my father's handwriting; and there's a set of hard shoes which have nails in the toe which has been prohibited from competition in the past 15 years).

After we came home, and I wrote down what I'd learned (as I realized it was already fading), and recovered (soup and about four large glasses of water, with sitting), I asked my husband to remind me what he wanted us to do for the rest of the evening: get rid of the mess on the six-foot table.  I forgot to take a picture at the very beginning, but here's the before-and-after.  I only went through the baby clothes; the clothes still on the table are the ones TG will grow into pretty soon.  (The bins on the floor under the table are too large for LC, and the overflowing box on the right side, believe it or not, is the current size.  Even though I'd already gone through and there's not enough room in the nursery already for the clothes in the current size.  There's always more.

Oh, and as for the consignment, I'm already into profit and today was only a pre-sale day!  I'm looking forward to giving a check to the parish and helping reduce the deficit which grew alarmingly over the summer.  (Snowbird population.)  I have marked out the half-off sale to go to, as TG has grown out of his pants and will need new sneakers soon.  (Plus they have Legos, which we don't need more of, but that's why I'm not going to the pre-sale.)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

With a little help from my friends

I am grateful for the comments and responses I've received through this blog and its related efforts.  It really does make it easier and more fun to do this; I'm more conscious of what I'm doing.  (Or at least I'd like to think so.)

I posted about wanting to get to bed before two o'clock, and received a comment which helped me shut off the computer and go to bed, so I made it to lights-out by one o'clock.

The internet and the book are traps for me, so I've set up (and reinstituted) some rules of use:
*I don't get to sit down at the computer until the dishes are done.
*The computer's bedtime is midnight.
*If I'm supposed to be doing something else (even if that's a vague "something else"), I put the bookmark in the book at the place I'm supposed to stop before I start reading that section.

The last one is hard and annoying, but it does help me practice my atrophied-beyond-belief self-control.  I've only just thought of the first one today, but even if it only worked once, the dishes are done, so that's a win.

My sister sends me ideas, too.  Today, when I dropped off the things (50 of them!) at the consignment place, I consciously left the associated guilt there.  It did help that the ladies were appreciative of the clothes and things. For most of the items, I wasn't, so I'm glad they will go where they are wanted.  Other items I like, but we just have too much stuff, so I hope they will bless someone else's house.

And I got an email from a friend who is just lovely.  She reminded me about Auntie Leila's "Reasonably Clean House" series, so I reread the first post and did a little in the master bedroom.  I want an Auntie Leila book; she's just wonderful.

I have found that taking "before" pictures makes me want to take "after" pictures, so I'll post them, even though I didn't get all that much done.


We'll have to get to the headboard another time.

My husband lays his clothes out for swimming in the morning; they're supposed to be there.
Genealogy!  (I need to find a way to pack some giant pictures and send them to my cousin who has the rest of it.  God bless her.)
I put a whole bag away!  Lookit me!  (Sometimes the before-and-after thing works...)

This is just pure lazy, for the most part. There's a keyboard, ukulele, flute, 80s keyboard (hiding, but I know it's there), and two guitars. The box on the floor is music, and that's the most neglected bookcase in the house.
I don't really know what to do with the keyboard, or where else to put the baby scale. I should probably go through my maternity wardrobe and put things that fit in drawers and things that don't away ... instead of just piling things on the dresser there (which is full of things I don't use ... so there's another project).
Here's another set of projects: confiscated toys (and windchime); Latin books on the floor (several series, and this is just part of them: I intend to donate some); the bag on top has a video camera which may or may not play the video my father took at our wedding, which may or may not be on one of the unlabeled tapes in the bag...

...there's an IKEA lighting fixture on top, and a shell lamp next to the bookcase, neither of which we use, and I don't even like the shell lamp any more, but probably have to ask my mother whether she wants it back...
But, hey, the sheets and clothes (except for tomorrow's) were put away, and a stray lamb was returned to the nursery.

D'you see how it's easy to get disheartened?  Once I clean up the mess, there's all this stuff that needs to get done, and we haven't even touched the cleaning!  (Not that I do, to be honest.)

Computer is pumpkinating, so it's time to post and go brush my teeth.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Phase Complete

Well, I have 50 items ready to go to this consignment thingummy. They are tidy, in "excellent" condition (I really hope so, but doubt my judgment, if only because I'm really messy), and tagged and numbered. On Sunday or Monday I'll go and drop them off, affixing price stickers with bar codes to each of the tags. If everything sells, I'll have earned over $150 for the parish, which isn't too bad.

There are lots of feelings of guilt:
*I never used this and I should have! (The baby is much too large to fit into it now, let alone at Christmas.)
*I should keep that because so-and-so gave it to TG! (He doesn't use it, it's dreadfully awkward, and I think it's ugly and don't want to look at it.)
*TG wants to play with these cars! (As opposed to the ones spilling out of his toy bins, or opposed to the ones I've confiscated and hidden elsewhere because there are too many cars?)
*I didn't appreciate this enough to use it! What a rotten person! (Oh, get over yourself, lady. The kids are happy and the husband is happy and someone else will enjoy it.)

As you may be able to tell, I've been arguing with myself all day, and the unparenthetical me is kinda whiny. (The parenthetical me is rather chatty, but isn't that what parentheses are for?)

I don't have anything else to say, so let's see whether I can make it to bed with the lights out before 2 o'clock! (Yeah, you'll probably have to wait on that, and I'll probably forget. You're still supposed to root for me, right?)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

This Consignment Idea

Let's just say I'm glad it's only a semi-annual event, and that I only found out about it yesterday.

Reasons I feel guilty:
*As you received without pay... give without pay. Yes, I plan on giving the money to the parish, but I do want to take out expenses. That doesn't really sound like it's in the spirit of the apostles. Is this the first step down a path I don't want to walk?
*How can I give away things which people gave to me!? (I am trying to be ruthless and repress that thought. I can't quite bear to part with the handmade blankets, even if we'll never use them.)
*I don't even pay this much attention to what I wear.
*Keeping anything to provide for a mythical third child. Am I robbing someone by keeping things I'm not using right away? Is it bad to keep things for my grandchildren?

I think I'd do a lot better by ignoring some of these questions rather than trying to answer them.

Reasons I feel frustrated:
*Gah! Children's hangers!
*I have no idea how to price anything. Why? People are VERY generous to me. I get excited when I get to buy something for TG, and I'm still on single digits there, apart from getting onesies in bulk ... which was mostly to use up gift cards, but was still exciting because I got to pick them out. I have never bought children's shoes (except pool shoes).

When I buy clothes for myself, unless I have the burden of a gift card (here, have money, but you have to spend it at a particular place: it's the thought that counts), I prefer to shop at a thrift store. Mostly because if I get stressed out, there's a toy section, a household section, and, most importantly, a book section. They don't have those right nearby in the stores in the mall. So I get sticker shock going into any place that sells things first-hand. (Don't get me started on bookstores. Even the Goodwill bookstore is too expensive in my reverse snobbery mind.)

I think I have departed from the intent of the blog. (Both in what I've been writing and doing consignment.) Well, we'll see how it goes.

I've selected things to sell. I have pricing supplies. I need to clean a baby backpack. I've put everything on hangers (wretched little beasts). I've sorted things by size. I've even found some nice-enough children's toys in the mass covering the dining room table. I've started attaching little tags with little safety pins, completing everything but the clothes themselves.

This is a lot more painstaking than shoving things in boxes or bags and saying, "Yes, please come and get things," to the people who ask for donations periodically.

Tomorrow I'll see about pricing and numbering and entering things online. (Ugh to the first.) But there are still other things to do, like finish the bulletin and see about a sample Irish dance class for TG. (I am using all my willpower: "You will enjoy this enough to continue!")

What else is maddening is that this doesn't even deal with the baby clothes which are too large for LC, nor the boy's clothes too large for TG. It's a start, though, and my husband seems happier. We'll end on that note.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Clearing the Clearinghouse

Why the gap in blogging? Well, boys and girls, let's review what I've learned: don't hold both children up at the same time. No, it doesn't matter that it's only for ten seconds. It really hurts, for a surprising length of time. What else have I learned? Pulling a back muscle causes an entirely different kind of pain. This lasts longer and is more intense, and while the lying in bed and reading library books part of things is really nice, the necessity of doing so for three days straight before you can walk upright, let alone hold a baby while doing so... not so much fun. Oh, and that thing I learned about not holding both children at the same time? That lesson didn't stick, so I did it again. REALLY. LEARN THIS ALREADY.

And TG turned three. I am very happy that he is no longer a two-year-old. Much of the drama has vanished over the course of the past two weeks. I even like him again. (This is a huge relief.)

So yesterday, while I nursed LC, my husband brought things out of TG's closet: lots of toys and blankets, some from my childhood. We're keeping the little record player, although it probably needs a new needle and we only have three records. I'm giving up the 80s robot that I never really liked playing with anyhow. Other toys I need to check with my sister about, and some things I plan to use with Teddy in the near future (a wipe-off letter-tracing kit and a children's atlas, both of which I'd forgotten about).

My husband is having a really tough time at work, so I tried to get some work done on the two messiest parts of the main area. (Ignore the kitchen with me. I'm not leaving clothes out for the brownies... but then again, I'm not leaving out porridge either.) So I cleaned the living room of the birthday debris. The boxes that toys come in seem to be much harder to disassemble than before!

But then I forgot to take a picture of that "after," and used the living room to work on the things in the Florida room, namely, the giant table of baby clothes. Our parishioners have been so very generous with us. So I sorted through two sets of clothing: 0-3 months and 3-6 months so far. I found a children's consignment place which has two events a year. I have less than a week to get things ready and take them there. It costs $9 to participate, and I need hangers and tags, but they'll donate all the leftovers, and I'm planning to use any profit to donate to our parish. (Not that I don't want to donate clothes to other charities, but I'd like to reduce at least a little of our own parish's debt...)

Without further ado, here are some useless before-and-after photos.

Florida room before
Florida room after
living room before
living room after

Aside from noting that I'm really bad *and* lazy about taking pictures today, in the last picture there are two bins on the floor around the coffee table. One bin is sorted clothes kept for a possible future child, and the other bin is Things To Go Out of Our House.

Today I have learned I never want to work in a store that sells baby clothes.

How do I know I've made progress? My husband is happy.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Went through the first box of memorabilia. I left all the adolescent poetry and writings for later, because, well, they're awful. I did throw out quite a bit, and had fun going through some things (like my collection of funny quotations which was started in college).

I also found the box with all my Irish dancing medals in it. Both kids like the way they clinked. I think my favorite part of going to feiseanna was just getting to be with my dad. (My mother thought it a waste of money; she sewed the pieces of my costume together and I believe that was the extent of her involvement. All the other dancers had their mothers involved. The only other fathers there were involved because the whole family danced. My father used to say that he had two left feet and they were both wooden.) This past Saturday, we went to the Clearwater Beach Feis and had fun. TG liked the "noisy" shoes, and LC was simply delighted. (She delighted more than one person, too!) Still uncertain whether TG will want to learn, but I have the information about the dancing school closest to us, who offers a free first lesson. Maybe I'll wait until after his third birthday this month.

This box is the hardest I've had to go through, maybe because I've gone through it so many times before. I don't need old fencing programs, or the poetry/art magazines from high school (which I wasn't in).

The first item from the box was a reminder of a very low point in life, so that made it even harder to get through the rest of the box... which took all day.

I did manage to sort through the next three-months'-worth of baby clothes, as LC is growing at a ferocious pace. As she is also starting to be ferociously mobile, the husband took apart the nursery bed and put the mattress on the floor, with a rug and some padded boxes (the mattress is a foot tall), to give her more room than the cage-like crib affords. So maybe that will help get rid of that set of antique furniture. It's nice to have a child's room with lots of playspace on the floor, I think.

I've been doing my best to hang onto the resolutions, marking down the times I get up and go to sleep, my weight, my current Psalm verse for memorization, and the rung on the Hacker's Diet fitness ladder. I did have to realize that I can't do the prone leg lifts and it's not my fault because I had back surgery and am physically unable to do these. That realization was quite a relief, as the metal rods at least mean that it's not *just* that I'm really out of shape and lazy.

I'm getting slightly better about going to bed before midnight, and have finished memorizing the first two psalms. The weight is fluctuating all over, which I think is partially because, although I try to weigh myself first thing in the morning, sometimes it's only after I nurse LC and other times before, so that would kinda make a huge difference. I feel less flabby when I'm exercising, though, and I have been mostly successful at limiting my dessert intake.

I may be starting to burn out on the decluttering, and I think the best choice here is to work some more on the theology of this whole plan. I very much appreciate the comments shared on this blog so far. Please keep me in your prayers.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Uncluttering From Afar

Today I disposed of my prom dress, my high school letter jacket, and my Irish dance costume. My mother was going through one of the closets at her house and emailed me about those items. It was hard, but I will never wear them again.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Inch at a Time

Husband took out the recycling and made a trip to Goodwill.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Find

I forgot to add that I found two punchcards with the University of Notre Dame seal on them, as a bookmark in one of my father's college music books.

Oh, yes, I'm keeping those. I learned to write my name on punchcards, but I've never seen a Notre Dame seal on one before.


Went through three more boxes of sheet music.

I kept the flute music. Theoretically, I will resume playing the flute, and that's already been mostly culled. I did skip over the high school and college marching music (and it's really no good, having just the flute part).

I kept a few books of the Irish music. I threw away* photocopied books and books of Irish music (in Irish and in English) and felt horrible at the waste of time in the first place when my father copied them.

*Paper gets recycled. Usable music gets donated. Most of the time the photocopied books are classified as "paper."

*sigh* But I won't have to carry them around from move to move. I won't have to move boxes and boxes of "music I might use someday" to get to the things that I'm looking for.

I did keep a cute old ukulele book. We do have a ukulele, at least.

Then there was the stuff from my father's college and post-undergrad days. He was heavily involved in Roman Catholic liturgical folk music. I kept a few folders-with-brads I thought my sisters might like (but I was too young to remember). I kept a few booklets of, well, junk, just because it had my father's name on it. (But I did give away duplicates, at least.) I threw out mimeographed sheets with "Cum By Ya" [sic] and other things. I kept a couple of liturgical music binders which were used in church when I was growing up. I occasionally get songs stuck in my head, and even though I'm not Catholic, and even though I've heard about "those post-Vatican-II musical atrocities," I still like them. It's sort of like comfort food.

Then there was the Christmas music. Really, I don't need twenty photocopies of "Joy to the World." They were all mixed in with everything else. In another box, there should be about 20 copies of one carol book, and I kept a book of carols for piano, and a couple of photocopies of my father's favorite Christmas carol ("The Cherry-Tree Carol": my husband also likes it because it reflects the Orthodox teaching in the first line: "When Joseph was an old man...").

There's only one box left in the first stack. Whew.

I also got something off my to-do list, which was to call the lady back about Irish dancing classes for Teddy. They do accept students as young as three, and the rates didn't seem unreasonable, and the first class is free. We'll try to go to the feis up in Clearwater this Saturday and see whether or not his interest is piqued. (She didn't know enough about an adult class, but I figure I can ask when we go. Not that I'm in shape enough to last through one dance, let alone an entire lesson, but that'll be another post.)

There're more thinks percolating around in my head, but I'll stop here and let them ferment a little more so there's a chance of fewer mixed metaphors when they do get poured out. (Did the metaphors there just make you go "blech," too? Well, that's why I'm stopping here.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Progress, then Allergies

August 23:

Action items from desk:

Cut out tiny icons from calendar to put together another tiny book like the one I sent Mat. Anna for her children's dollhouse. (TG wanted to keep it, so I'll make one for him.)

Recorded ice cream prices from grocery store ads in Blue Bell spreadsheet.

Called to be removed from catalog mailing list.

Husband steamed apart paper icons and TG's book.

Cut out coupon and recycled flyer.

Made correction in vespers supplement and uploaded corrected file.

Registered to vote (change of address ... sent in April ...).

Sent away for free umbrella.

The hardest thing about dealing with paper stuff, I find, is not the "to be filed" section, but the "action" section. There's still a book I want to mail, a book I want to find (I wrote cryptic notes; I found it while searching for another book on interlibrary loan, so the database I searched is only available at the library), and three liturgical booklets to correct. And some other stuff, I'm sure.


We've made our first foray into the "project closet." Office supplies and diplomas are so far being kept (stored in the filing cabinets now empty of genealogy materials), but we've gotten rid of some music from an aunt, from a cousin. Then we started on the first box: Irish music.

My father collected. Everything, but mostly Irish things, especially stamps and music. My mother donated most of his music collection (the cds, at least) to a university whose Irish studies department was happy to get it. Some of the cds had never been opened, and some were duplicates. It was still boxes and boxes full. I think when we moved here, there were at least seven boxes of music—sheet music.

So as I was going through this box, I felt that I was rejecting part of my father. But I don't need folders and folders of photocopied books of music. I don't need music books for harp, harmonica, and guitar. I don't even need music books for the flute. I think I managed to keep about an inch or so of "keep" items (including a music book with liturgical Irish and no English which I am hoping a friend will enjoy) and a few things of "potential keep" items.

I didn't expect to cry.


I had saved the above in a draft, then continued with another box and the Fixing of the Last Diaper in the afternoon. (My husband was right: it took less than 15 minutes; how come I waited four months?) I didn't get back to the post because of the Attack of the Allergies. Yesterday morning all that was accomplished was Disney movies (Dumbo, The Jungle Book, and The Black Cauldron). For the time being, I've given up on psalm memorization and exercise and am focusing on breathing and sleeping.

The project closet, right side, showing a marked decrease in the first stack of boxes. The two piles on the floor are what I've kept out of two of the music boxes. Four more boxes to go in that stack.

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Time for Everything

Today, I did something I have never (to my recollection) done before. I threw away greeting cards. Granted, most of them were repetitive (I think I'll remember having the baby, and Christmas cards aren't all that memorable), and many were from people I don't actually know. (I *try* to match parishioner faces and names, but there's usually at least one small distraction (about two years old), and the parish directory is out-of-date.) I did check that I had important addresses in my Google Contacts, but I threw out unnecessary envelopes.

I was looking for a certain gift card for this coming Saturday's baby shower, so I cleaned off my desk. I have six of those little "inbox" things that stack up. Those were overfull, and there was a pile on my desk as well as a box (a small box, but still) on the floor. We will carefully omit any mention of boxes in closets which may or may not have "to be sorted and/or filed" paperwork. I didn't find the giftcard I was looking for (haven't gone through the small box on the floor yet...), but I did find over $100 in gift cards.

*sigh* I don't like shopping, and when I do go shopping for clothes, it's usually at Goodwill, both because if it's a mistake, it's cheap, and I don't feel pressured by the consumerist oppression I experience in the mall (and there's miles to go to find anything I'd wear). I don't get to shop for my husband often because, well, he's a priest, so his priestly clothes are pretty standard and his unpriestly clothes will probably never wear out at the rate he wears them. The kids ... well, let's just say it's exciting when I get the opportunity to actually buy TG anything to wear. That hasn't happened with LC yet, and, by the looks of things, she's set through age 3. (There will probably be more new gifts as well as hand-me-downs by then.)

In the meantime, I've done four loads of laundry including putting them away (the hardest part!), made the bed, and run the dishwasher. The sense of well-being does seem to have extended itself and made the house more restful. (Not entirely, because TG's making noise with his toys, and I'm cranky and hungry, but it's much better than it would be otherwise.)

I guess Don Aslett did make a good point when he mentioned that clutter robs you, because you have to keep looking through the junk to find the thing you want. At least I know where the gift card isn't...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Fasting with my Closet and New (Ecclesiastical) Year's Resolutions

The death of a little girl who was close in age to our daughter has given us quite a bit of sorrow. Her funeral will be tomorrow evening. May Isabella's memory be eternal.

My husband's sermon this morning was about Matthew 17:14-23, where the man comes to Jesus for healing for his son, because the disciples were not able to cast out the demon. Jesus told his disciples that "this kind never comes out except by prayer and fasting." Then my husband defined fasting as "doing without things you want" and said that the purpose of fasting (if I took notes correctly; does anyone else take notes during sermons, wiggly babies permitting?) is "to be holy as God is holy."

This made me sit up and take notice, because one of the things I've learned in this project so far is that it's okay to both want to keep something and to still give it away.

Today before church (the littles slept in quite a bit), I went through and sorted a few things in the Florida room, gaining two empty boxes and two empty boxlids. After church—coffee hour sent us home with cream puffs, mini cinnamon rolls, and half a gallon of milk; I refused the unopened box of crackers, pleading lack of space and was forcefully told that we need to eat more...—we went through my hanging clothes in the closet, sorting into: maternity, would like to wear, and would not like to wear categories. Since I'm post-partum, I have no idea what size I am, but there were lots and lots of clothes that I don't actually like wearing, even when they do fit.

Which leads into the exercise and dieting section. The ecclesiastical new year is coming up on September 1, and I like to take the opportunity to make New Year's Resolutions (even though I'm definitely not good at keeping them). My planned resolutions are memorizing the Psalms and losing weight. I've been slacking off on memorizing psalm verses, so I thought I'd use the GOARCH Planner and gold star stickers to keep me going. My hope is to learn six verses a week (one a day), and review on the seventh day. I've already learned the first psalm (and so has TG, mostly, although he still says "pencil" instead of "counsel"), and am almost halfway through the second... but I've been there for over four months now.

For losing weight, I plan to do three things: weigh myself each morning (I did *not* like this morning's number in terms of its distance from my prepregnancy weight!), follow the hacker's diet fitness ladder, and eat only one dessert a day. The last will probably be exceedingly effective, as doughnuts, cookies, and anything else which falls into the dessert category is an anytime snack. So today I had a peach instead of an entire sleeve of Oreo cookies. But I did forget and eat lots of cream puffs at coffee hour ... but I didn't eat breakfast this morning. (I know! I'm breastfeeding! I'm sorry! I honestly forget most Sundays! Even TG only had one doughnut and didn't even want milk!) And I'll try to drink water more, in general. I should probably also get more sleep.

Aha! That was the thing I was trying to remember: lose weight, learn psalms, and go to bed on time. So that means I need to hurry up and figure out something for dinner which isn't doughnuts (those should probably go into a cupboard where they're safer than right out on the counter) and turn off the alluring computer. Which reminds me I have two more Inspector Lynley books from the library, so that should be enough incentive.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

And awaaaaay they went

One set of sheets, more sweaters, two plastic containers, a purse, two mattress pads, one winter coat, several toys, some toiletries/bath items = almost a trunk-full. Separately, fifteen thank-you notes have also gone out.

One walk-in closet is starting to look good. Yes, except for the genealogy, almost everything on the 'out' list on this blog so far has come from one (1) closet and we're not quite done with it.


I'd just like to publicly announce how awesome my husband is. He gave an unused remote-control car to the pest control guy who just left. I've barely had breakfast, our son is still in his underwear, but something has already left the house!

And now back to our regularly scheduled laundry and shrieking baby...

Monday, August 15, 2011

And then there was pie

Today we celebrated the feast of the Dormition. TG continues to be pretty happy, and LC quieted down and slept during the Liturgy. We came home and celebrated with cookies, ice cream, and pie through the rest of the day. (It's a feast, right?)

My husband made a sandwich for me, and while I was distracted with tasty goodness, we did some more with our bedroom closet. While I started munching, I looked at the clothes in my closet (didn't get to those today) and thought about the St. Basil the Great quotation about how the extra clothes we have are stolen from the poor: "The bread which you hold back belongs to the hungry; the coat, which you guard in your locked storage-chests, belongs to the naked; the footwear mouldering in your closet belongs to those without shoes."

I made much more progress on saying, "I don't need this," than I had the first day we did the closet. My husband confessed he got a little worried when I was clutching (figuratively) to the torn (literally) sheets. They could be useful. They probably are useful. But I. don't. need. them.

I have come to the realization that even if I really like something, even if I really want to keep something, it's still okay to give it away.

We live in Florida, so we got rid of lots of sweaters. (Including one my grandmother knit that matches the hat I wear when it gets cold ... but I don't actually like the sweater itself.) And lots of shoes. (Including the really expensive, dyed-green-to-match-my-prom-dress-which-I-no-longer-have dress shoes.) And a pair of nice snow boots. (Man, those were so heavy!) And a set of sheets. (Oh, but there are lots more sheets to come, I have a feeling.)

We also went through TG's toys, getting rid of about a boxful, sorting through what he might want, what LC might want, what I might want (the little coke truck and the car my father carved are not going anywhere, and both my husband and I love the little green Trabant), and then some nicer things which we can give as gifts (a wooden duck, a neat blocks set, a set of circles that fit together). We also got rid of lovely metal boxes and a stationery box (no stationery in it, but it's a lovely box). I love containers, especially pretty ones. *sigh* So that was hard.

We also got rid of the sewing machine that I've had for a year. It's really heavy. It's never actually been set up at our house. I still hope to make a set of vestments for my husband before he dies. I mean, soon.

Oh, and while we were sorting things, the doorbell rings. It's the mailman: one package from my sister (safe: honey, so that'll get eaten rather quickly) and two packages from my mother (Raffi DVD for TG's birthday next month from the Amazon wishlist (awesome), a cute Russian Orthodox children's book from her trip to Mongolia (awesome), and some clothes (they feel like plastic/sandpaper and five shirts of varying plaids) of which we kept a pair of pants and three shirts.

So all that and some previously sorted stuff (but not all of it) went to Goodwill today: a trunkful. And then there was pie.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

One Step Back

Yesterday and today have been busy, and there isn't really anything positive to report today.

Yesterday, I was sent home from the retreat with a bagful of Oreos. (I know! Suffer, suffer. I'm getting rid of them as fast as I can.) Also, "Uncle Tony" brought TG about six or seven boxes of animal crackers and a tin of mints. Previously, he sent two boxes of animal crackers in the mail. The last time Teddy saw him he asked, "Do you have any crackers for me?" Uncle Tony didn't, so he went out right then and bought some.

Today, I was sent home from coffee hour with the remains of a gallon of milk, a plate of fruit, more Oreos (seriously, and we just bought more because I'd run out), and some artoklasia because the person sponsoring it thought our daughter's middle name is Marie. It's not. Also, a parishioner brought another bag of baby clothes.


On the other hand, we may actually be getting interest for a parents-of-young-children play-group (or something) at church, so there may be a place to give toys and clothing in a somewhat reciprocal manner. (Or it might be even more awkward, as you don't want to give back things that people got specifically for your use.)

Tomorrow morning we will celebrate the dormition of our holy mother the Theotokos. I tell my mother she's not allowed to die until she's sorted through the things in her house. (This does not mean sending them to my house, however.) I've been reading more in the current Don Aslett book, and there are some relatively brief sections on verbal, emotional, and mental clutter.

My husband has noted that TG is more pleasant to be around since we removed all of the toys from his room. I don't know whether it's correlation or causation, but today was certainly much more pleasant than usual, and it was an extremely exhausting day, with five hours at church in the morning, a brief break (while the priest-man went to vest the body of a brother priest who had fallen asleep last week), and then back to church for vespers. The rest of the family went to the pool and I stayed home and rested a bit, watching Hoarders later on in the evening.

All the things I haven't done but mean to seem to have this pull on me, like dead weight. I hope that getting rid of the things that I'm not going to do will release me from this feeling. Not sure what the plans are for the attacks in the coming week, but I hope to show significant progress, even if it's only figuring out what our next steps will be.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


After three years at Holy Trinity (Clearwater), I'd never gone to the annual parish retreat. This year, now that we're no longer there, I was actually in town (albeit an hour south), so we went. Two of the GOYAns were there for TG. LC's nouna (and everyone else!) was there for her.

Got rid of 17 egg cartons. (Our parish doesn't use these for red eggs at Easter, but I saved them anyhow because they must be useful to *somebody*!) And gave about a year's worth of box-tops-for-education to LC's nouna who is a teacher. So we didn't get rid of much stuff, but with as full a day as we had, I'm glad we did make at least a little progress.

Friday, August 12, 2011

And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram...

We had a lot of 'begats' in our closet. My wife's grandmother's genealogical research had yielded roughly a dozen paper boxes' worth of documents, photos, and assorted other materials*. For the last four years or so, this genealogical data had taken residence in our closets. First in Clearwater, where it was unpacked and stored in filing cabinets. Then it was packed up and brought down to the new house, where it was unpacked and stored in filing cabinets. To the best of my recollection, that was all the interaction that had taken place between our family and the genealogy stuff.

Until yesterday. My wife admitted to herself that, with two small children, there are other people in the family who would have more time to devote to this endeavor, at least for the next, oh, eighteen years, give or take a couple. And so, out came the documents, photos, and assorted other materials, and back in boxes they went. Today, they left the house, on their way to a good home. Να 'ναι ευλογημένο!

*Wifely footnote: My husband said that as he was writing this, he thought of Nebuchadnezzar and the sackbut, psaltery, lyre, harp, and every kind of music. I am glad we are no longer paying homage to these boxes full of papers.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Baby steps

We've packed up most of my grandmother's genealogy research. I haven't done anything with it in the four years I've had it. I've moved it into filing cabinets and back into boxes for the move, then my husband put it into filing cabinets, and we've boxed it up again to go to a cousin who had worked with my grandmother on genealogy before. She says she'll scan it in and maybe send the originals to my sister.

So that's ten or twelve boxes. (Some of the old photographs are really quite large, so we have yet to figure out the packaging for them.)

We've removed all the toys and books from TG's room. (Except for a giant box and sundries in his closet.) These are currently in the Florida room (and, from previous confiscations, in the breakfast room and two ... no, make that three other closets in the house). I hope to go through those toys and books and select the most important ones ... and let the rest go, whether to friends who teach, library sales, Goodwill, or our annual neighborhood garage sale in the fall.

I took pictures of my beautiful antique bedroom suite. (My sister wanted to see pictures, to see whether she wanted to try to talk her husband into receiving it.) I think it's some of the most beautiful furniture ever; I picked it out as a birthday present from my parents when I was a teenager. (Our family tradition: each daughter received a set of bedroom furniture.) But. It doesn't make me happy. The wardrobe is much too large for almost any house on the market these days, and the handle for the main door is slightly broken and I'm afraid to fix it myself. I'm hoping to have a parishioner who has a "woodworks" business look at it and suggest options. I like the bed and nightstand (with the funny little cabinet for a chamberpot!), but I think it should all be kept together. I am hoping we will find a place for it where it will be taken care of and enjoyed. In any case, it must go.

Out of our house today: one pair of shoes and two shirts, as TG's hand-me-downs.

I am exhausted and emotional. I feel guilty that I haven't done anything with the genealogy materials and guilty that they're out of order and uncared-for. I feel like I've failed. And then there's the rest of the Stuff which is just everywhere. Well, except TG's room.

I'm reading (slowly) Don Aslett's For Packrats Only and was struck by the suggestion of "At least thin that collection of all the birthday cards you ever got." The correspondence file... well, okay, I do actually have all of the birthday, Christmas, etc., cards and letters I ever got. I probably don't need to keep correspondence of people I don't know and/or don't remember.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


"We want order and not chaos." —Fr. Thomas Hopko, "The Head," Names of Jesus podcasts.

"Mental clutter is tough to conquer, but it helps to go after the physical stuff first. Go after the gullies of garbage around the house, yard, and office first and watch what happens in the old head—a great surge of motivation and momentum. Everyone tells me, 'Once the stuff went, my mental struggles were much less, the cobwebs seemed to clear out of my brain.' What an incentive to unload! Do it!" —Don Aslett, For Packrats Only, pp. 89-90.


For a while now, I've been contemplating that command of Jesus, "Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and come, follow Me."

And then there were lots of articles about how children who grew up with lots of toys are physically, emotionally, and spiritually confused and handicapped by their abundance.

And I grew up with lots of stuff. Not necessarily expensive stuff, but lots of it. In telling a certain man about my father's hoarding, he looked at me and said, "You're a hoarder, too." And I had to admit that he was right. I am. I keep things which I do not find beautiful nor useful.

And then there's the Montessori ideal of a "prepared environment."

I have not kept all the commandments, like the rich young man in the story in the synoptic Gospels, but I am coming to admit to myself that if I really want to know Christ, there's a mountain of Stuff and Self in the way.

I hope this will be a blog about getting rid of at least part of that mountain.

Riches and the Kingdom

Matthew 19:16-30, from the Orthodox Study Bible:

Now behold, one came and said to Him, "Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?"

So He said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments."

He said to Him, "Which ones?"

Jesus said, " 'You shall not murder,' 'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not bear false witness,' 'Honor your father and your mother,' and 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' "

The young man said to Him, "All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?"

Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."

But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?"

But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Then Peter answered and said to Him, "See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?"

So Jesus said to them, "Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first."