There are a few things worth noting: this room is one of the rooms that has been least changed since we moved in AND heavily used since we moved in (12+ years ago). It has also been the repository for many things when we didn't know where to go with them. It is the central hub of a lot of action. It holds our filing cabinet and the girls craft cupboard. Hence the need to see FOUR open days in our schedule before we risked diving in. And we used each and every one of them!
We did a victory walk around the room this evening around 7:30 p.m. and declared the job done! This process takes a lot out of all of us and the younger girls were about out of patience with the sorting and decisions and the need for the adults to be able to focus on paperwork especially these last two days. We tried each day to end with some time together, but sometimes by that point in the day we felt pretty spent. See not only did this room have our filing cabinet (most of what was in there hadn't been looked at for going on a dozen years), but it also had the dreaded "bin of random papers" and various stacks that had accumulated over years (along with an accumulated layer of dust).
Here's the run down of the four days more or less - of what I can quickly recount while Terah plays play dough with daddy and Kali reads to Alida:
Day #1 - full room clean out, laundry and top to bottom room cleaning. We had a lot of buckets of water that looked like this. And many dust pans full of crud! We found all sorts of surprises, including the kids' doctor kit thermometer perched on the back side of the old kitchen stove. How long had it been there? Towards the end of the day we made some progress moving some of the easier and obvious things back in. Fit in the cracks were things like moving ducks, making cheddar cheese and other chores and daily tasks. When the girls started getting a little loopy, we decided to call it a day. At least they were laughing. Here there are, along with a few other pictures of the first day:
Day #2 - major organization day involving sorting the craft cupboard and various other spaces and getting rid of a bunch of stuff while re-organizing what we were keeping. This is when it starts to get tough. Kali was even braver than me - I'm such a sentimental mess sometimes! She had this old pair of crocs (in the video above) that we bought when we went to Cape Charles right after Nora died. They had holes in them (not just the intended holes). They were a good 5 sizes too small. BUT she loved those crocs and they were a reminder of that monumental trip. Throwing them in the trash was hard for me (which is why they had been sitting on the back kitchen sink for weeks)! There was also lots of cleaning of the things that were still out of the room and either being given away or brought back in. Jason fit a milk run and I did some cooking and other cleaning.Day #3 - the rain set in and the hardest work was still in front of us. The filing cabinet! And it seemed like most of the day we had chicken supervisors or maybe there were our fan club out on the porch (ok, so they just didn't like the rain!). This was decidedly hump day. By the end of the day we were all a tad on edge (ok, to be honest some of us were very on edge). Jason seemed the least hit by cabin fever out of all of us - maybe due to his getting out for chores at various points in the day. I made ricotta and a large pot of soup and otherwise was sorting, sorting, sorting. Each day I also did a few hours of my paid employment during Terah's nap so that was my "break" from the deep clean and purge. The older girls treated us to another one of their made up muffin recipes to go with our dinner. I spent time writing letters to various friends and family - with things enclosed we had found that I wanted to pass along. We found some real treasures - but most of the letter re-reading will have to wait until Jason and I are retired (or at least kids are older). We laughed and groaned as we read little snippets of our earlier writings. I even found a letter where Jason had been encouraged by the women folk in his family to grow his hair a bit longer for our wedding. We also found Kali's picket sign from when she was protesting the idea of us possibly getting pigs some day in the future! This was also the day that I was ready to find some entertaining videos on my computer to occupy the younger girls. Enter the winter olympics - which worked for just a few minutes until it stopped and I was asked to upgrade my service to keep watching. Argh!
Day #4 - Jason and I started the day with a cup of coffee together in the front room and reading some Wendell Berry sabbath poems. A great start to the day - which might be why the whole day seemed to be a really good one! I spent most of the morning doing other cleaning, laundry, cheese making, making a brunch to enjoy all together (and with Aunt Emily who came to take our back kitchen stove off our hands!), cooking another large pot of soup, filling wood boxes, etc... Jason did chores and then did some odd jobs like fixing a handle on the game cabinet, fixing the prayer card holder on our dining room table, chopping kindling and some other odd jobs. We dove into the final stretch towards the end of Terah's nap - that aforementioned paper bin. AND we got to the bottom of it. AND the bin is now in the attic for our keepsake bin with just a small pile of things in it. There are no plastic bins in the back kitchen. There are no stacks of stuff sitting around. We know where everything is and can enjoy more what we have since we can now find it. It really is like moving without moving - which is great, since I have no desire to move!
This process was/is so many things - exhausting, energizing, aggravating, fulfilling, fun, freeing, perplexing, and just plain hard work. This round also involved emotions as we got in touch with snippets of our past, as well as some our dreams for the future. I find it hard to stay present when I'm being tossed from past to future by all the things we are sorting through. But we made it through. And spirits have been higher today. Now I'm hoping to snuggle up with Alida to get her to sleep soon as she is tuckered out! But a good family game playing session tonight seemed to boost the positive feelings all around.
Here's a few more before/during/after pictures to enjoy! May we all sleep well tonight! Go Myers-Benner team!
The back counter:
The back sink:
The craft cupboard:
The back desk/filing cabinet area: