Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Movin' On Up...and OUT!

Ok, I wrote this last week, but in the spirit of “I really need to add those pictures from MW’s first day of school"…I put off posting…feast or famine, huh? More like famine, famine, famine!

The above photos are "pre-move." I'll have to take some "post-move" shots...

Last week…Monday night we put the kids to bed before 7pm. They were both exhausted and needed a good solid night’s rest. Around 10pm MW came downstairs and got in bed with us. When we told her to go back to her bed, she indicated she had no intention of heading back up there…she was scared. Scared a “bad guy will get me.” So we made her a pallet on our bedroom floor and let her sleep there…

I’ve been feeling like we need to move T3 up…if I was MW, I’d be scared. It’s lonely up there. So far, she hadn’t admitted to being scared, but this was enough to motivate me to make the move.

Tuesday MW and I had a picnic upstairs while T3 napped. We had to have some girl time to discuss plans and decorating ideas. MW decided she wanted to move into the guest room and give T3 her old room…I promised her we’d make the transition over the weekend.

Tuesday afternoon at 5:08 pm our house was spotless. Everything was in its place. The laundry was completely done (save the ironing). It was one of those rare moments. It was at that exact moment, 5:08 pm, that T offered to begin “the move.” (I should mention he had to be at a meeting at 6:30 pm.) At approximately 5:11 pm, our house was torn apart. I have NEVER seen so MUCH STUFF! And I just did a MAJOR clean out. Major. Like, three full car-loads to a local thrift store and a few drops at friends' houses. It was BIG! But oh, the stuff, stuff, stuff! Toys everywhere! Truly, it was unbelievable. I’m thankful I’d already cleaned out…really, how obvious is it that we live in America? When our blessings become a burden. I’ll have to post about that later, as it’s been heavy on my heart.

T finished moving MW’s bed and got T3’s crib upstairs just in time to make the meeting. Yes, my husband is a SUPER HERO! And then, he left. You can only imagine the mess. Clothes, toys, toys, clothes, and stuff, stuff, stuff, etc.

I spent several hours organizing today and I know I’ll be spending several more tomorrow. I desperately want to get everything back in order, as we’ve got company coming this weekend!

It is very strange having the entire downstairs to ourselves. It's certainly something to adjust to. I made a smoothie while T3 was napping today…because he’s upstairs so the blender won’t wake him. When the phone rang, I didn’t make a mad dash for it like some kind of crazy woman. I leisurely strolled over to answer it. Scout barked at a passerby. I didn’t run in to “shush” her. It’s all very strange. I’m a little sad. My baby is upstairs.

MW is in a new room...the old guest room. T3 is in MW's old room...and it's quite barren. We'll be "shopping" for some "new" furniture. I've already "bought" one piece... off the side of the road...and once painted with a little trim added, it'll look quite nice! (It's a wooden bookshelf!)

We've rearranged everything! Things that were in the nursery are now in MW's room and things that were in her room...well, they're mostly all still in her room. She has a desk in there now! When I walk in her room I have to look at it through the eyes of what will be...and not what is. If you ignore the stained green carpet and the peeling wall paper - mind you, there are three different papers in that one room plus paint, it's rather pretty. Ahh...and this is life. I will not wish it away on what "will be" one day. Nor will I squander it by being consumed with my possessions and letting them dictate how I spend my days...I hope!

And that brings me to the subject of our blessings becoming a burden...

One of my all time favorite books and movies is Little Women. I read the book in elementary school while home sick with an ear infection, if I recall correctly. And of course, I LOVE the movie, though different from the book. There are so many great lines in the movie…”I’m so degradiated” being one of my favorites…definitely worth repeating. But the one that has stood out to me lately was spoken when Jo took over Plumfield. She and her mother and sisters were talking about old Aunt March and how lonely she must’ve been in that huge place. Mrs. March said, “Her blessings became a burden because she did not share them.” There is a lot of truth packed into those eleven words.

A few months ago I told T I thought we might have to buy MW school clothes this year…thus far we’ve had to make very few purchases thanks to the generosity of friends and family. We’ve been the recipients of some very nice hand-me-downs as well as several items friends have loaned us. Combine that with gifts of clothing from family and we’ve been left with very little if anything that our children have needed.

What I’d forgotten about when I said that to T, was that friends had given us several bags of hand me downs that would indeed fit MW this year. As I was cleaning out, which was inspired by the loss of a croc and the example of a friend, L, I tackled one room at a time and literally sorted through every cabinet and drawer. When I got to the guest room closet, I came across several bags of hand me downs. After several hours of trying on and sorting through, I found myself folding and hanging and trying to put away MW’s new clothes. At the end of this process I stood back to evaluate my work. In one afternoon we’d gone through everything in MW’s closet and drawers, including shoes, and we’d gone through several bags of hand me downs and put all of them away. As I peered into her closet, my heart kind of did a funny thing. I felt like it skipped a beat. No, not because it was picture perfect. Not because it was organized…dresses, tops, bottoms, etc. but because of the abundance. I stood there and counted her coats alone. She had five. FIVE WINTER COATS! T and I did not purchase a single one of them. Others have shared with us and have generously given to us. Five coats…that is a wonderful gift. The fact that I have hoarded those gifts is RIDICULOUS! On so many levels! The abundance…the burden of having to choose and manage it all. Yes, I did say burden. These wonderful blessings were becoming burdens because we were hoarding them. Rather than take what we would use, we’d kept it all in the name of “it fits and we might need it.” Our blessings were becoming burdens because we were not sharing them. Really, I should be using the “I” pronoun rather than “we.” I am the one hoarding. My husband and children, quite frankly, have very little to say on the matter, as I am in charge of this area. I have been hoarding. Holding on to every little thing – just in case we “might” need it. Two pairs of white leather mary janes…the same size…I better hold on to them. You never know, we might scuff up one and need the other, seeing as how they’re worn on Sunday’s only…or someone I know might wind up with twin girls and need them. I’ll just tuck them away. And so they sit. They take up space along with several other pairs of shoes…in the name of “might.” Please don’t misunderstand me. I know there is wisdom in being prepared. There is wisdom in saving and storing clothing to grow into or for siblings. However, I am hoarding when I store five winter coats that are all the same size. My four year old does not need five winter coats... I know there are mothers in my own town crossing their fingers as they walk into used clothing stores, just hoping for a nice, warm winter coat for their baby girl. I KNOW that’s happening. I’ve watched it happen. Truly, how many dresses does one little girl need? Even after a major purging, MW still has a closet FULL! Life is simpler with less. There is less responsibility and decisions are made simpler…yes, I do think there is some truth to that old saying, “less is more.”

I re-evaluated. I studied each coat and decided we’d keep two. We kept a little Sunday coat from T’s family and a fleece my sweet sister bought MW. The rest we passed on to others. Oh, but they fit her! And they were SOOOO nice! And cute! Oh friend, can I begin to describe to you the burden that was lifted as we gave those items away as well as the accompanying blessing? Oh, but what about that little dress that was sort of cute? No, I'd never buy it in a store, but it fits her and it’s in great shape…but she has SO many other dresses that fit her that are in great shape that I much prefer…out with it! Let me experience the blessing of giving it to someone who will wear it and enjoy it.

We even cleaned out dress up clothes. Amazing. I let MW make the call on those, without my input. As we stacked purses in a pile, and then shoes, followed by dresses, etc. MW began to realize how much she had…and she made a little pile of items she’d outgrown and or no longer played with. We gave them to a friend. Dare I say the sound in her voice as she responded to our offer of these played in dress up clothes made my heart smile? Ahh...passing on something that had been given to us, that we enjoyed, but are no longer using...

We have cleaned out and cleaned out again. I probably need to go through things once more to truly clean out. I know I sound tacky and spoiled to speak of things becoming a burden. I am spoiled. We have excess…more than enough. I am so thankful for the generosity of friends and family. I am only sorry that I’ve spent so many years hoarding every little thing that we “might” one day use…rather than passing on some of these things to other families who would’ve been using them. You'd think I would've learned from other's example of passing on items they aren't using...

So to all our generous friends and family who have so often given so abundantly, I apologize for not being a wise steward with the blessings you've given us. Lord willing, from now on, I will be wise with the things with which I'm entrusted.

There is a weight that has been lifted in knowing that we’ve cleaned out. I had begun to feel as if the walls of my house were closing in around me. I can’t stand boxes of stuff…every time I walked into our guest room I felt a foul attitude creep into my heart. Having to pull out the bags of clothing stacked in the closet…having to jigsaw under the bed storage boxes out…it just kind of made me mad. I’ve still got bags stacked and storage boxes under the bed. I’ve still got tubs of clothing for MW and T3 to grow into…all of which I’ve sorted through, pulling things I’m fairly certain we won’t use and passing those items on.

However, I am determined that during the next two weeks, I am going to finish sorting through everything, a second time. I am going to continue organizing and cleaning out. I do not want to teach my children that “normal” is thirty outfits and fifteen pairs of shoes. I want to simplify our life and share our blessings with others, that all our lives might be richer.

And that my friend, is a mish-mash compilation of what's been weighing heavily upon my heart.

On a lighter note, I let the kids tackle me and drag me to the floor. We wound up in the hallway. T3 thought it was sooo funny to put MW’s dress up crown on my head. He would slam it on my head, jerk it off, and erupt in giggles. The next thing I knew he was slamming a wet crown on my head, which splattered water all over my face and hair, and once again, he was erupting in giggles. Why, I wondered, was the crown wet? I turned my neck to see what he was doing and couldn’t believe my eyes…he was dipping the crown in the toilet! Toilet water! Ughh!!!!! On my face and hair and neck!!!

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