Saturday, August 18, 2012

What I Did on My Summer Vacation.....

My summer vacation officially began at the end of May and here we are already back in school as of this past Wednesday! I am having trouble believing that we have entered yet another school year but the time has come. Early mornings are hard to begin again but slowly we are working our way back to our routines.   

In all the things I did this summer (although not impressive by any one's standards but my own) there are a few things I did NOT do. 

1) I did NOT write on my blog (except about Jacob's graduation from high school...a wonderful, wonderful day, I might add!) 
2) I did NOT plant a garden
3) I did NOT go to the pool 

But, don't feel sorry for me.  The things that I did do this summer gave me so much satisfaction that I don't feel like I have missed much but rather I feel uplifted and motivated by my choices.  So what did I do? 

1) I celebrated 27 years being married to the greatest man I have ever known.

On June 20th Tim and I celebrated 27 years married. That day began by bringing Abigail and Annah to Girls Camp and after dropping them off we went to Cumberland Falls (somewhere I had never been) which was not far from where Girl's Camp was. The Falls were lovely and we even saw a rainbow in the mist of the Falls. :) 

The pictures might have been better if I had remembered to bring the camera.
The only thing we had was Tim's iPhone so it had to do. But, there was nothing to be done about the bright sun blinding us while we tried to take a picture of ourselves in front of the falls! :) 

After the Falls we found a place to eat lunch called Bubbie's Barbecue and we decided that it is a place that we want to go to again -- no matter that it is about 2 hours away from where we live! Yes, it was *that* good! :) Once home we put in a movie we had rented. That was short lived as we must have had the name wrong on what we were trying to rent because it was NOT what we thought it was. So, we scrapped that movie and picked one from our own collection that we hadn't seen in a long time. We watched the movie, had dinner and enjoyed a quiet evening at home.
2) Sent kids off to Youth Conference (Abigail and Jacob), Girls Camp (Abigail and Annah), EFY (Abigail), Scouts High Adventure Activity (Jacob)

The kids spent a lot of the summer packing and unpacking but fun was had by all in their various adventures! 

3) Celebrated Abigail's 15th birthday (my, my, my, where has the time gone?) 

In anticipation of her birthday Abigail had asked if we could attend the Liberty Branch on the Sunday of her birthday so we headed an hour south of home to grant her birthday wish. :) No birthday is complete without cake of some sort so we brought with us an assortment of cheesecake squares (compliments of Sam's Club) to share with the branch members after church. Abigail's friends Isaac, Jessiah and Jacob sang Happy Birthday to her in the kitchen and then we dug into the cheesecake. :)  I must be slipping in my old age as once again I forgot the camera so we had to take pics with the iPhone!  

Oh Yeah!  She's 15 now!

Abigail with Jacob

Abigail and Jessiah

Abigail and Isaac

And the birthday serenade! :)

4) I headed up one of the most fabulous of events in our family history -- The Great Valenta Clean Out!  :) 

I knew the great clean out was coming.  I could feel the ripples for a long time and as school came closer to ending I could feel the shift from ripples to swells and by the time school was officially out it was more like a huge wave far out at sea but definitely headed for shore! 
I think the tipping point came for me when I finally reached the end of my rope lugging around other people's stuff. It began 25 years ago. Yes, you read that right...25 years ago. That was when we lived in New York and Tim's mother lived in Arizona. She passed away somewhat unexpectedly from breast cancer in January of 1987.  Within days of her passing away we had to go through her apartment and pack what, at first glance, appeared to be things that should be kept. Because of the time constraints we boxed and shipped somewhere around 42 boxes of her things! Yes, I know that is a lot but in the interest of time and sentiment, we packed and shipped all that stuff! Over a period of time we had whittled down much of the stuff but we were the keepers of what remained and should have been gone through years ago. What remained was pictures (lots and lots of pictures), papers (lots and lots of papers), journals (LOTS of writing in those babies!) and family history information and research that was done. It was truly time for a serious look into those old cardboard boxes with crushed sides and dusty contents.

Included in the category of "lugging other people's stuff around" were things from my parents' home that we cleaned out nearly 3 years ago when my parents went to reside in a nursing home together. I had gone through a lot of their boxes but there still remained boxes that held pictures (lots and lots of pictures), papers (lots and lots of papers) and family history information and research. (Are you sensing a theme here? If not, you should be!) :)
So, when I no longer had to think about my work schedule and each of the kids' school schedules and Jacob's graduation and all the other things that are in full motion during the school year, I knew it was time. 

I forgot to take a picture of the room when I began but picture this room with many, many more boxes -- boxes piled on boxes, piled on boxes and THAT was my starting place!

As I inched my way through every box, every paper and every picture, I kept only the best of the best. That went for Tim's mom's things, my parent's things and even our own childhood pictures and mementos and even that of our kids! 

I sorted every picture and threw away pictures that were blurry (Why do we keep those? We don't want them in an album because they aren't good yet we hang onto them like they will magically come back into focus the longer they lay in a box getting covered with dust! Whatsupwiththat?)

I threw away pictures of people who had cut off heads. (gross!)
I threw away pictures of people we couldn't identify. Face it, if *we* dont' know who they are how will our kids ever know who they are? They won't. They were out of here.
I threw away pictures of people who were a quarter inch high -- you know, the ones you need a magnifying glass to figure out who it is?  I don't want to strain my eyes to figure out who is in a picture. I was looking for quality, flattering pictures of our loved ones. It was like looking for buried treasure (quite literally) and that is what we found! 

In pouring over the pictures from both Tim's mother and my parents, we had many pictures that we wanted to share with family members. We got together 8 packages of pictures and sent them off to various family members for them to enjoy. We heard from many of the recipients of the pictures that they were as happy to receive them as we were to share them. 
These were the empty containers that I advertised on Facebook that were free to a good home! Every one of them found a new place to live, much to my delight!
This made us laugh....we gathered up every Nauvoo brick we had in the house -- 14 of them to be exact! Why, why, why did we have so many when we've only been to Nauvoo like 3 times? Who knows but now we have O-N-E. :)

So, over a period of about 6 weeks we cleaned out the nooks and crannies of this old house and parted ways with so much dross that it still gives me a thrill to think of it! :) Nothing was left untouched except for the garage which still needs to be done but due to our extremely hot summer we have avoided that area lest we succumb to heat stroke! We went through books, CD's, knick knacks, magazines, video tapes, DVD's, files, office supplies, craft supplies, pictures, slides, negatives, dishes, childhood memories, kid's artwork, shoes, clothes, family history papers, the list goes on. Whatever we had we gave it a hard look and made decisions. Some decisions were harder than others but so far we have not regretted one thing that was given away or tossed! 
So that is what I DID on my summer vacation but I also FOUND a few things.  I found freedom from owning things we don't need, peace in clearing out our spaces, and a sense of wonder at why we didn't do this all sooner. That is what I FOUND on my summer vacation. :)

A picture of my kitchen after the Great Clean Out...don't pay attention to the crooked "V" at the top of the cabinet. It has since found it's way into the giveaway box. :)