40 Bags in How Many Days?

I just know you want to know about every little detail of my life, including whether or not I follow through with my commitment to “de-stash” our house.  (Heavy sarcasm!)  But I did say I would update, so here I am. Well, I’m not doing great at keeping up with the timeline of the 40 Bags challenge. But I am also in a season of trying to learn balance in what I EXPECT I can do compared to what I actually CAN do. I can probably actually do more than I do do. But I am also in a major battle these days for what my spirit and mind need, as well as my physical body needs, so at the very least, I’m trying to not be legalistic with myself, because it misses the point, entirely.

So, while I may not work on it every day for 40 days…I’m still working to declutter, and I have a list of places I plan to declutter. Yesterday, I did 4 small areas, and got a dining room table full of stuff I want to get rid of. I still need to actually BAG it up, but you get the point. I am loving the decrease. It’s hard to let go of things that you are keeping for sentimental reasons only, and there are a few things I continue to keep, for sentimental reasons only…and I know someday, I may part with them, too.  I’m trying to hold a strong criteria of truly only the most significant objects, or those with consistent purpose, will remain in our household.

Why declutter? We may have moved from a smaller house to a bigger one. But I don’t want that to mean we just keep buying more stuff. I want to be able to downsize without hesitation, if the Lord calls us to do so.  Or even just ANY move…I don’t want to haul as much stuff as we did last time.  I also feel like STUFF represents material possessions that serve no other purpose than to stress me out. This may be because I’m in a stressful season of life, where I can barely take a shower, let alone dust knick-knacks. Or maybe it’s because my phlegmatic personality is finally screaming to stop trying to decorate in a way that requires sanguine or choleric energy to maintain. Or maybe it’s a health thing…I’ve been dealing with some minor health issues and health mysteries, and recovering from two back to back pregnancies, and still miss out on a FULL night of sleep many nights a week…so, yeah, my energy levels may be a drive behind the STUFF purge. (When I have energy to actually carry out the purge…)

Anyway, here are a few pics of reclaimed space from my recent decluttering:

Took a few DVD's from the shelf, moved a picture to another shelf, and removed a vase and a candleholder that hasn't had a candle on it for months.

Living room shelf: Took a few DVD’s from the shelf, moved a picture to another shelf, and removed a vase and a candleholder that hasn’t had a candle on it for months. 

Dining room hutch: Removed some serving dishes I almost NEVER use and definitely don't LOVE.

Dining room hutch: Removed some serving dishes I almost NEVER use and definitely don’t LOVE.

Dining room hutch drawer: Removed some small serving dishes I have NEVER used, and napkin rings we registered for but have NEVER used. Made room for trivets that have been cluttering the bottom of the hutch. Should probably get rid of the trivets, too, but I may have to convince myself of that later. (Also, toddler arm photobomb!)

Dining room hutch drawer:
Removed some small serving dishes I have NEVER used, and napkin rings we registered for but have NEVER used. Made room for trivets that have been cluttering the bottom of the hutch. Should probably get rid of the trivets, too, but I may have to convince myself of that later. (Also, toddler arm photobomb!)

Dining room cabinet: Removed several serving pieces we never use, and two stacks of sushi dishes we have maybe used once. Just because we LOVE sushi, doesn't mean we make it at home or serve it at home. Why keep that stuff? This also represents a TON of cookbooks I decluttered several weeks ago. For now only keeping our very favorites. The few that I actually cook from regularly are in the kitchen. (This does not include baking cookbooks. Not ready for that yet.)

Dining room cabinet: Removed several serving pieces we never use, and two stacks of sushi dishes we have maybe used once. Just because we LOVE sushi, doesn’t mean we make it at home or serve it at home. Why keep that stuff? This also represents a TON of cookbooks I decluttered several weeks ago. For now only keeping our very favorites. The few that I actually cook from regularly are in the kitchen. (This does not include baking cookbooks. Not ready for that yet.)

The sippy cup shelf: I hate this stuff. It takes over your world! And you get piles of lids and valves and straws. Thinned out some bottles I had been holding onto, and kept only the sippy cups and kid cups we use regularly. The boys mostly use Camelbak bottles that I don't keep here.

The sippy cup shelf: I hate this stuff. It takes over your world! And you get piles of lids and valves and straws with no good place to go. Thinned out some bottles I had been holding onto, and kept only the sippy cups and kid cups we use regularly. The boys mostly use Camelbak bottles that I don’t keep here. Also, moved the popsicle molds and silicone cups for lunches in here. 

Some STUFF from these areas waiting to be bagged up to donate or sell. Minus a ziplock of sippy cups Jak ran away with while I was trying to document.

Some STUFF from these areas waiting to be bagged up to donate or sell. Minus a ziplock of sippy cups Jak ran away with while I was trying to document.

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Several bags down….40 Bags in 40 Days update

I don’t exactly know how many bags (or boxes) I’ve accumulated so far. As you saw on my initial post about the 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge, I already had a pile to take to the porch for a non-profit group to pick up. I didn’t count the number of bags that day. There were several boxes, bags and loose items still in the pile in the basement, and I got most of that boxed up and moved to another space for the meantime, last night. I also finally got caught up with my laundry.

Oh, the laundry. It has been my nemesis for a few years now. I hate doing laundry, so I’m a pro at procrastinating until the pile is so big, it is no longer manageable. That was before life got crazier. It’s a major example of how bad habits become even worse habits when life gets hard….so work on your bad habits when things are GOOD.

Let me be vulnerable…when I say the laundry was bad, I am understating it. I got way behind after we went on a camping trip May, 2011. I was newly pregnant, and SUPER nauseous. In fact, the first nausea I experienced was on that trip, so the smell of campfire only brought horrible waves of it back. So I kept putting off putting away the camping gear and doing our laundry, to avoid vomiting. And then a couple weeks later, Andy had a stroke. It was a very small stroke, and it was finally deduced to be due to a migraine headache and a clotting gene mutation. While his recovery was fast, he was still EXHAUSTED, a major symptom following stroke of any severity. So he was tired, and I was also pregnant-tired and nauseous. Housework spiraled out of control, including laundry, which generally became wash-enough-to-get-by, or wash-it-all-but-not-get-it-put-away and then it just takes over again.

It ebbed and flowed until we moved and right before Jak was born I grew to be in MAJOR nesting mode. He was a week later than Gideon, and that last week I became obsessive about being caught up with the laundry and clean bathrooms.  Then of course, he was born, and chasing a toddler and nursing an infant took up most of my days and nights, and laundry got crazy again.  And those bad habits. Ugh.

The massive laundry pile-up, while we STILL have lots of clothes to wear, has become a revelation to me. WE DON’T NEED THIS MANY CLOTHES. Period. It has been a major factor in this huge desire to downsize our clutter. Because less STUFF means less TIME managing it (or it managing me), and more TIME to spend with my kids and blessing others.  I have been trying to whittle down my wardrobe to a manageable capsule wardrobe, which means parting with things that don’t fit a need. Maybe I’ll post on capsule wardrobes later…but let’s face it. I can use fancy fashion words like “capsule wardrobe” as much as I want, but it doesn’t make a fashionista. I’m the farthest thing from it. So you may not have much to glean from me on the subject. But it has been a fun challenge, actually.

Anyway…many of those bags I’ve filled to donate have been filled with clothes, shoes and coats that I don’t wear any more or that don’t fit into my plan for my edited wardrobe. One of the upcoming projects is to help my husband pare down his HUGE collection of jeans and t-shirts.  We need less clothes. Period. We’ll see what this does for our laundry chores!

photo 1So last night, I finally got the massive pile out of the play area of our rec room downstairs, and we now have a functional play room! It is by no means “decorated”, so I don’t post this pic to show off a PRETTY room. But it’s fun to have a new space to play.  The boys weren’t keen on playing down there in the past, but this morning they were like kids in a candy store. I want to rearrange a few things when time permits, particularly after we move Jak into Gideon’s room (SOON!)…I have plans for that extra bedroom! I couple things may migrate up there.

photo 2Now, the OTHER side of the room is another story. It houses Andy’s board game collection and game table, as well as what WAS his computer desk. But he made himself a new desk out of a kitchen table, and it is now in our bedroom (he did such an awesome job!). So we have some rearranging and decluttering to do on that side of the room. I’ll post a pic when we get that done!

Andy's new, uncluttered computer desk! Didn't he do a beautiful job? I think we paid $30 for the table and 6 chairs...he replaced the white tile center with stained plywood and painted the frame.

Andy’s new, uncluttered computer desk! Didn’t he do a beautiful job? I think we paid $30 for the table and 6 chairs…he replaced the white tile center with stained plywood and painted the frame.

P.S. Don’t you just love the floral couch and chair with the non-matching pottery barn stripe pillows??  We are SO in a one-step-at-a-time season.

Is anyone else doing a decluttering challenge right now?

 

40 Bags in 40 Days

Ok. So, it’s been 4 years since this blog was created. I guess it’s about time for an inaugural post! Why nothing in 4 years? I can’t remember why I delayed posting at first…probably because I had a lot in my head, but not ready to write it. Then life took over. Then when I wanted to post, I couldn’t remember how to get to it. THAT’S HORRIBLE. But true. Fast forward four years…four bumpy, crazy, intense years…I decided to pull up my OLD blog…that I faithfully occasionally wrote in before this one was created by my husband. And low and behold, this one was right there with it on the same account. I swear, my brain has been barely functioning during these childbearing years. Gah!

photo 1

My helpers today as I write my first post!

 

Anyway, I won’t go into great lengths of what all has happened in the last four-five years, other than this run-on synopsis: I’ve worked full time, part time, and at home (baking and decorating cakes, tutoring kids on handwriting skills), had a miscarriage, another year and a half of infertility after that, miraculously found out we were pregnant with Gideon and then miraculously (and shockingly) pregnant with Jak 5 months after Gideon was born (hence my non-functioning brain), attempted to short-sell our home after struggling with a few years of career and income changes forced upon us with the crazy economy and stupid housing bubble and some hasty decisions we had made and continue to regret, nearly ended in foreclosure as we burned through our savings and everything I could contribute while working before Jak was born while we waited for the realtor to do what we hired him to do, and just barely got our house sold in the nick of time with the incredible help of our new realtor that knows the short-sale runaround and coached us through the whole thing. (75 or more showings with no offers with the first realtor, immediate offers before the house was “officially” back on the market with the second realtor. If you need a realtor, TALK TO ME!)

Currently, we are renting from my family, in my late grandmother’s home. After the whole debacle with selling our home, we are admittedly scared of buying, and we haven’t even checked in yet as to when we CAN buy or what it will be like after the knock to our credit record. All of this, coupled with the craziness surrounding our move (Oh, I haven’t shared that part yet…), has led to a serious desire to DOWNSIZE. At least the STUFF we have that we don’t need.  The crazy move: we rushed to get out of the house since our realtor said it would sell faster and be easier to keep clean, since we had a baby constantly making messes. So we moved in with my sister (who was renting my Grandmother’s house at the time). Which meant a lot of stuff had to go into storage, because also Grandma’s house still has a lot of her things in the basement. (The timeline of her last years made it hard to manage all of her belongings at once, so it has been a long process.)  The two weeks before the move, Gideon and I kept getting sick back and forth with colds, then norovirus, then the flu. Three days before the move, we were unpacked and I was puking my guts out. Oh, I was also 6 months pregnant at that point. So we hired packers with what little money we had. Some of our stuff moved with us that day, and we had to pack the basement and move it LATER. The day we moved, Gideon’s 1st birthday, he got a fever and I had to take him to urgent care, while Andy and some gracious friends packed the truck.

So……it’s no wonder at this point, even two years later, we are still feeling like we are recovering from those events. The boys are finally old enough to entertain themselves better and I am in clean up mode. When the remainder of our stuff came from storage, it was mostly loaded into the basement and a lot of it has been untouched.  We have realized how much crap we have, how hard it is to manage it, and how much of it we don’t even use. Ever.

Last year I discovered a post by blogger Ann Marie Heasley called 40 Bags in 40 Days on http://www.whitehouseblackshutters.com. I was ready then to start “decrapifying” as she puts it. But I lost steam after the first few days, because I was up against a mountain of clutter, and chronically exhausted from an almost one year old that was a horrible sleeper at the time and a two year old that was still dealing with sleep issues that started after we moved. BUT NOW. Now, I am ready.

Actually, I’ve been decluttering from various rooms in the house for several months now (especially the kitchen and my closet), and piling it all in a central location in our unused play room. Today is the first day of the 40 Bags in 40 Days 2015 challenge, and, fittingly, the non-profit that was supposed to come get my first big pile a few days ago bumped the pick up to today due to weather. So, this is what my front porch looked like a little while ago!

photo-2

 

There are still a few things I’ve already collected that I will have to drive to Savers or something this weekend…and I may have a few more bags to add to it by then, because I am IN IT TO WIN IT this year. I’m ready to unload the weight of belongings that don’t mean anything or hold any necessary purpose any more. If you want to join the challenge, which coincides with Lent (so you can do it as a part of your Lent observation, or not, of course), check out her blog posts about it. She gives ideas of where to start, and explains the whole goal.  It’s pretty great. I don’t really know how to make a link active here at the moment…but I’ll work on that tonight after my IT department gets home from work. 🙂 So, hopefully, you can find her blog without too much difficulty if you don’t want to wait.

I’ll try to update my progress here…probably more consistently on instagram. You can view my public account at @thesweetwong2. I’m sure I can make the link to that all fancy, too. Again…I’ll probably have to call my hubby, er, I mean, my IT support crew for help on that.