Friday, March 3, 2017

I'm Hanging Out over at Instagram These Days--and Running a Giveaway

I am the worst. blogger. ever.  It's like I'm never here anymore.  But I have a really good excuse, I swear!  You see, after more than 26 years, we're moving from what we thought might be a "forever home" for us; and it's happening so much faster than I ever imagined it would.  (We decided we might want to sell in late January, and we will be closing on March 17!  And the house never even got listed.  It's a crazy story.  If you're new here, this recent post explains the whirlwind that is our life right now.)
It's really hard to get ready for a big move (from NH to VA) when for so long, you never thought you would leave your beloved house--and therefore you didn't do a lot of purging through the decades.  Especially if you have an enormous walk-up attic that conveniently fits a whole lot of packages, boxes, and bags, making it easy for you to procrastinate and say, "I'll get to that later."  And especially if your five boys--who are now ranging in age from 24 to 33, with four of them married and having families of their own--also had the mindset of, "I'll get to that later," leaving almost all of their boyhood memorabilia behind (figuring, and rightly so, that Mom and Dad had a lot more room to store it than they did).

This process is feeling like a bit of a Lenten sacrifice for me, going through all of these precious and even not-so-precious things.  (People say, "Just let the movers box it up and worry about going through it when you get down there."  However, the idea of having to spend the first few months in our newer, smaller house culling through all of this junk is so stressful to me that I'd rather take care of it on this end. )  But it's undoubtedly been good for me.  I'm a saver, particularly when it comes to items that tell the story of our boys' history and our life as a family in this house.  I gotta say, this experience is making me realize that I keep a whole lot more than I should...and it's making me want to live my life clutter-free (or clutter-reduced, anyway) from now on. 

For instance, I kept every single trophy my boys ever received--even the participation trophies from youth sports.  Last night, I FaceTimed with son #2, going through each and every one of his awards to see which I should keep and which I should toss, and we both had a good hearty laugh.  Apparently, he's okay with not holding onto his t-ball participation trophy from kindergarten!  Huh, who would have thought? In the end, there were very few items that he felt strongly enough about to hold onto. After we spoke, I decided to do a brutal clearing-out of his brothers' trophies, too, without bothering to FaceTime each of them (I don't even know who I am anymore!!), keeping only the ones that said "MVP" or "Offensive Lineman of the Year" or something equally noteworthy.  (Full disclosure: my youngest son's trophy collection has not gone through a weeding-out yet; I just can't get rid of anything of his until he gets further along in his grown-up life.)

So now there's a box containing evidence of my four older boys' football, lacrosse, and basketball glory days in our garage, awaiting disposal (as soon as we get a second dumpster--yes, we've already filled one!).  Kind of sad--but kind of freeing, too.
And these old decaying football pads, chin straps, gloves (and jock straps--ew!): you know what I said to them?  "Buh-bye."  I did.  I'm so proud of myself.
These old presentation boards from grade school science fair projects?  Buh-bye to them, too!
Why did I keep them, I wonder?  I never even liked the science fair--it involved too much stress, and too many car rides on school nights to connect our boys with their study partners!  (Don't even get me started on group projects for school--I think all kids should have to work individually!!  That's my personal takeaway as a "been there-done that" mother of grown children, and I hope you don't mind that I shared it with you.  If you are driving your kids all over the place during the after-school hours so they can work on their group projects, you have my sympathies, mamas!)

I'm sort of embarrassed to admit that in my travels in the attic, I found a large plastic bin filled with folded-up old calendar pages.  We used to hang a huge calendar on our ginormous bulletin board in the kitchen, in order to keep track of all of our boys' activities and our family events.  I remember not being able to throw them out, my excuse being that sometimes I jotted down phone numbers on them, and I might need to refer to an old page someday.  In truth, I thought of them as a sort of journal of our family life, and I couldn't seem to get rid of them.
I am proud to report that these precious-to-me-but-to-nobody-else-on-earth pieces of paper are now in the recycling bin.  But I did take photos of a few random pages before I tossed them in there; it was the only way I could make the break.  (Picture me sitting here with a sheepish look on my face.)

Here's another find that should make me feel pretty sheepish.  In my youngest son's trunk, I was going through all the treasures to make sure there wasn't anything in there that would be better off in the "toss" pile, and I found a ziplock bag with a splint and two finger casts in it, from when he hyper-extended his pinky in a football game in high school...and kept on playing!  This baggie was right next to a sweet collage I made as a memento of our homeschool classroom, when he graduated 8th grade and went to the same Catholic high school his brothers had attended.  I asked my husband for his advice regarding that ziplock bag ("Toss it out!" he said, without hesitation), but then I didn't take it.  Why do I even ask him, if I know what I'm going to do already?
I found my oldest son's LL Bean backpack from high school, with his initials embroidered on it.  It's still is pretty good shape, actually, considering its age.  (LL Bean is the best!)  And inside I discovered the suede and leather saddle shoes that I got him on clearance before he started his freshman year and which became a bit of a trademark for him.  He literally wore them throughout high school; I replaced the first worn-out pair with another exactly like them so that he could make it through until graduation!
In spite of keeping lots and lots of things (oh my, those boys sure collected a lot of football cards!), some of them as ridiculous as those little finger casts, I have managed to get rid of a mountain of useless clutter.  I have made countless trips to both Goodwill and the recycling center.  And you cannot even imagine how many empty large plastic bins I have now, after four straight days of working like a dog up in that attic!  I wish I had a Fitbit; I'd love to know how many steps I've taken and how many stairs I've climbed.

I still have some work to do.  Such as boxing up these precious T-Rex and St. Patrick Halloween costumes worn by my youngest boy back in the day.
My husband has been working so hard, too, getting all of our plumbing issues resolved, going through mounds of filed paperwork, finishing bathroom renovations, prepping walls so I can do the touch-up painting that we promised to do.  And yesterday, he had the sad task of taking down our boys' football jerseys in the "new room," our garage-turned-man cave/sports room.  That was a tad painful.  A few days earlier, I'd taken down over 100 framed pictures on the walls of this room, many of them photos of our boys in their football, basketball, and lacrosse-playing days.  That was tough.

I've been chronicling our move over at Instagram if you'd like to follow along there (because unfortunately, for the foreseeable future I'm probably going to be 'gramming a lot more often than I'll be blogging).  Just click on the Instagram icon on the side bar and it'll take you to my home page, if you're interested.

Now about that Instagram giveaway I mentioned in the title of this post...I'm giving away a free signed copy of Erin's Ring, and the winner will be announced on St. Patty's Day.  If you want to know how to enter the contest, look for my recent Instagram post with this darling image of Princesa reading Grammy's book, and the directions for getting your name in the hat are in the text under the picture.
May you have the luck of the Irish!  (And I hope that we will as well, as we go through this difficult transition!)

See you over at the 'gram, dear readers.  :)

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