Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Slim Jims and Circus Peanuts...

The Valenta decluttering home tour continues...
On our journey there was a stop off at Jacob's room.

I had have no words for Jacob's bedroom. It is that perplexing, that awful, that much of a mess. I've asked, begged and pleaded for him to clean it up, even just a little. You can see how far I got...
(When asked why he would block his closet with his desk and side table even he didn't have an answer. And the sheet over the window, such style! He really does have a curtain under there!)

...Until I decided to bribe him. Who says a parent can't bribe their kid? Not me. I've stooped lower than that in my years of mothering. I decided I would offer to pay him to clean his room. His first question, "How much?" Guess he had to decide if it was going to be worth it to him to make me happy. I was thinking $5 but then knowing my son as I do I said $10. I could see right away that appealed to him. :)

But also knowing my son as I do, I knew that money alone was not going to do the trick. I knew if I was to keep him with me through the cleaning/dejunking process I would need more ammo than money. I know the way to Jacob's heart....Slim Jims and Circus Peanuts! So like a chimp on display in zoo, I had to feed him to get him to perform.

And, perform he did! Of course, I was there the whole time prodding him along but 4 hours later Jacob had a clean room and a happy mom. :D

This is a very small sampling of a few of the treasures that were found under Jacob's bed....

All kinds of pens and pencils.. (This is a fraction of what was under there!)

Many CD's and DVD's...

Contact case, dice, bottle caps, electronic cords...

And a few my personal favorites

Ear Muffs...

A school excuse from FEBRUARY.....Ummm, maybe that explains the truancy notice he got.

And his Faith in God for Boys booklet with the word boys scratched out and replaced with the word Men.


Now that Jacob has officailly gone from boy to man let's hope he has turned over a new leaf and will never have to have his mother bribe him to clean his room again. Maybe if I periodically get him Slim Jim's and Circus Peanuts he'll keep it clean on his own. Well, a mother can dream, can't she?

Stay tuned.... Tim has done a little cleaning out of his own! :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Has Anyone Seen My Clutter?

I ask that question not because I am going to actually SHOW you my clutter but rather because a lot of my clutter is missing in action -- the action of The Great Valenta Clean Sweep! :) I have been busy as a bee going through our home getting rid of the many accumulated things that are no longer useful, or needed or give us joy. It's been a long process (over a few weeks now and still moving along) but it has been such good therapy for my soul.

I have read plenty of books and magazines on organization, in fact, I probably owned most of at one time or another. But what I am beginning to (finally) realize is that almost all of the books and articles I have read try to tell you how to organize all the STUFF you have -- not necessarily teach you how to let go and get rid of it. I am not sure any book can convince you to get rid of your treasured "stuff" until you are ready anyway. My being "ready" didn't come from reading any book but rather it came from a place inside of me that had had enough of being surrounded by things that seems to frustrate me more than they gave me joy, were more of a hindrance than a help, and seemed to mock me rather than give me peace.

I've felt justified in keeping things because some day it might come in handy or because I paid a lot of money for something. But the truth is that most things I think I might need someday I don't and really, so what if I paid a lot of money for something? If it's no longer useful to me what does it matter how much it cost? Keeping something just because of the price tag it once sported isn't going to give me back the money I paid, so why keep it? And some of my clutter has just plan accumulated because I've been too lazy (a.k.a. busy, uninterested, unwilling, or preoccupied) to spend anytime assessing the usefulness of the variety of things collected.

Now lest you think I am a candidate for the TLC show "Hoarding:Buried Alive", I am not -- not even close. (But seeing that show a time or two will drive any sane person to re-evaluate what is around them and toss a thing or two.) :)
So far we've made 10+ trips to Goodwill with the promise of many more.

Okay, so I lied... I will show you a few pictures of before and after....

We even said good bye to our beloved singing lobster....sorry Cretta!

So our decluttering journey continues on. While I will never be a true minimalist, I am enjoying whittling away and paring down the possessions that are not needful, to make room for greater things that await me. :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Rocks in the Frig...

I have been reminiscing lately, thinking back when kids were much younger and when life in some ways felt harder just by the nature of parenthood.

I remember years ago -- about 18 or so years ago -- I had a rock stuck on the inside of my refrigerator. Open the door, look down and to the right and there was a small rock wedged in the track of the bottom shelf.

Why was it there?

Back in the day my little boys (Tim, Andrew and Jordan) believed that if you put rocks in the refrigerator to get cold that they had special powers. The cold made them magical. So they would put rocks in the butter door of the frig to get them cold. One day a rock fell out of from the butter door and got lodged in the track of the bottom shelf and it lived there for many years.

I remember the day that I finally decided that I wouldn't nag them about the rocks. With my change of heart it actually made me smile when I saw them.

I also remember that many years after they stopped putting rocks in the frig that one rock remained ....the one on the right, stuck in the track. It was jammed in there and wouldn't come out....until the day I decided that I was going to pry it out.

I worked hard to get that rock out of there. It took a little while but I finally muscled it out of the home it had known for many years. Once it was out I held it carefully in my hand. As I looked at that rock I had a twinge of regret.

Why had I pried that rock out of there? What had I done?

I suddenly realized that I didn't want the rock out of the frig. I realized I was going to miss seeing that rock. It was part of our family. Each time I opened that frig and saw that rock stuck in there I recalled my little boys and the magic powers the cold gave to their rocks and I smiled. With the rock gone from its appointed place I couldn't conger up the memory as quick as opening up the door of the frig and peering in.

It was then I knew that the rock had to go back to where I had taken it from. So I carefully took that rock and lovingly wedged it right back in the very place I had pried it from. Once it was in there I gave it extra pushes to be sure it was in there good and snug.

Seeing that rock back in it's place made me happy. And that rock stayed in that place until just a few years ago when the frig stopped working and we had to replace it with a new one. I couldn't let the old frig go without removing, for the last time, that rock that had been there for about 18 years. I pried the rock out and I kept that rock.

The rock used to live in my jewelry box as a cherished memory of when my boys were little and believed in magic powers. The funny thing is that the rock is no longer there. I think other little hands got in there and took the rock as part of their own make believe but that is okay. I don't need the actual rock to remind me of my boys or the magic they believed their rocks had in the cold.

I believe in magic...the magic of beautiful memories.
*The rocks in this picture were rocks recently found under the seat in our van...put there not by our boys, but by the two sisters of those boys! It could be genetic. :)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Birthday, America!

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."
~Ronald Regan~