A Return to Order ~ Sam

Perhaps, I should have called this “The Quest for Order.”  “Return” makes it sound like we once had order.  I guess we have, but I don’t really feel like we have hit our stride in that department since we moved to the new house.  Yes, it’s still the “new house,” even though we have been here over a year.  It’s going to take a while for me to get used to this whole home ownership thing.

Anyway, today, the kids all went back to school after their 3 week long Winter Recess.  I LOVE the long recess.  It makes me so happy.  This year, we didn’t get to do everything we had planned to do over the break, but we did a lot of great things.  We celebrated Christmas in our new home (our 2nd, but the first that really felt all put together, since we moved in 10 days before Christmas).  We spent a few days in the mountains with friends, where we played games, hung out, walked and talked together, cooked and shared meals, exchanged gifts, and the kids all got to go tubing in the snow.  This last weekend, we even managed to treat the kids to dinner and a movie.  That wasn’t easy, since we had to schedule it around a shopping trip for closet/bedroom storage/organization supplies, and a thorough “going through” of all of our tremendous volumes of stuff.  Because, see, we are actually making an effort to get the place organized and figure out how to live in it and make it work for us.  It’s hard, because we all have different hobbies, interests, needs, priorities.  We have a lot to figure out before we really feel like we’ve got it right.

When we bought the house, things were so up in the air right up to the last minute that we didn’t manage to clean, organize and pack like we usually do.  We’ve moved a lot, so we had a pretty good system, and it involved weeding out extraneous stuff, donating, recycling, throwing away or selling all of the stuff we didn’t need, and only packing the stuff we really wanted to keep.  Because we moved often, this system has helped us manage some of the volumes of stuff in our home (there are 5 of us, so it does tend to pile up).  However, we had lived in the last house longer than we had lived anywhere else together, so we’d had more time to accumulate stuff.  Add to that the fact that we weren’t even sure the deal on the house was going to go through, so we didn’t really get down to the business of packing until very late in the game ~ and the fact that Shane unexpectedly had to leave town while we were moving, so the girls and I had to finish by ourselves ~ and you get a very disorganized move.  So, if 2013 was “the year of the new house,” and I am unofficially declaring 2014 “the year of organization.”  I am determined to find a place for everything, and put everything in its place.  The first logical step, to me, seemed to be to get rid of some of the unnecessary clutter.

Recently, I happened to see something online about setting aside time to find 100 items that just aren’t needed in our home.  I liked the idea.  I presented it to Shane and the girls, and they agreed.  Between the five of us, we reasoned, we easily had at least 100 things around the house that were just taking up space.  So, Shane brought home a big box, and we set up a tally sheet near it.  Then, we all got to work the day before yesterday.  At first it was easy ~ so many pairs of shoes and clothes that don’t fit anyone.  Baseball caps no one wants.  Purses, wallets, backpacks…how many of those do we need?  Is this an entire unopened package of bungee cords?  Don’t we have a bunch of other bungee cords?  Why do we have 5 bins, each with two items in it?  If all that stuff fits in 1 bin, we can get rid of 4…  We reached the 50 mark very quickly.  Then, at a certain point, things started to slow down.  Currently, we are stalled at 81, but I feel pretty good about that number.   Yesterday, I looked back at that thing I had seen online (‘ll try to find a link to post here), and I realized that, in the original generation of this idea, items that were disposed of (thrown away recycled, etc.) were counted along with items that were being passed on to someone else.  We didn’t count a single item that was thrown away or recycled, and there were a LOT of items in that category.  So, in the end, if we don’t hit the 100 mark, I will still consider this endeavour a rousing success.  Aside from cleaning the house and getting rid of a lot of extraneous stuff, we managed to unpack at least 6 boxes that had yet to be unpacked.  In addition, we were able to consolidate and organize a number of items.  We also located quite a few long-lost and missed (or completely forgotten, but loved, now that they have been rediscovered) treasures.  I would say we are well on our way to a cleaner, more organized home.

Oh, and then, on Sunday morning, I got up before everyone else was awake, and made this dress:


As you can see, I am kind of tickled with it.  Oh, and I haven’t taken down ALL of the decoration, because there is a ginormous paper snowflake right behind my head there.  Anyway…  The fabric I used here was on the sale table at Jo-Ann for $6/yard, which I didn’t think was terrible.  I looked at a few tutorials online, then used a dress I own that fits me well as a guideline for cutting this.  I made a tunic a few days ago using basically the same process, and will post a tutorial as soon as I have time to sit down and write it.

Despite the busy weekend, we managed to get all of the kids off to school on time today, well-fed, clean, and ready to greet the day.  Now, I am working on getting the house and yard whipped in to shape. Shane took down all of the Christmas lights outside, and I packed away most of the decorations indoors (he took down the tree), so it seems like a good time to do some cleaning and organizing.  I taught two classes this morning (on a volunteer basis, but, hey, teaching is teaching, right?), then came home, and, in between loads of laundry, watering roses and running sprinklers, I used the elliptical machine out on the patio, and spent a few minutes hula-hooping.  So, I am feeling pretty accomplished today.  Still looking forward to the day when we can finally make-over our bedroom closet, so we can figure out the best way to put away all of our clothes, but, for now, I think the year is off to a more orderly start.

UPDATE:  1/19/14
We have now reached 91 items in our give-away boxes (we had to add a second box, because the first was overflowing), and we are not quite done.  Shane is spending the day installing more shelves in Justice’s closet, and she expects to find even more stuff for the box as she reorganizes, unpacks boxes and finally gets everything really moved in to her new (1-year-old) room.  I am still going through kitchen cupboards and household files.  Found my favourite old coffee grinder (which I thought I had lost two moves ago), so I was able to pass on the new one we purchased a couple of years ago.  I’m pretty sure there is more stuff in boxes we have yet to unpack.  We may hit that 100 mark yet.


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