Thursday, July 28, 2011

"The Great Purge"

A couple of years ago, we ripped out the carpet in the living room so we could refinish the beautiful wood floors that are original to this 1920's house.  We had already done both upstairs bedrooms, and they were fairly easy, so we were ready to tackle the big room (12 ft. X 20 ft.   Ha! And you thought your house was small....).  We took the couches and TV downstairs and were left with nothing but a wide open space.  We took turns rolling a marble from one end of the room to the other, showing how "off" our little house is.  There were also some pretty sweet tap dancing routines going on.  What I remember most was that it was so much fun. 

I'm realizing more and more just how little we need in order to be happy.  I mean, really content.  In fact, I think the things we have tend to get in the way of that happiness far too often.  It's difficult to want to take the time to play a game with the kids or to just lay down and take a nap, when I look around and see all the cleaning up and tidying that NEEDS to be done.  Why?  Because we have SO MUCH STUFF that needs to be cleaned and tidied. 

I think this is what has been feeding into my frustrations lately.  Well, not lately--pretty much for a few years now, but I think I finally have it pinned down.  Today I started what I'm deeming "The Great Purge."  I'm absolutely positive that I can get rid of half my household goods and not miss a thing. (Don't worry--the children and husband will NOT be included in the definition of "household goods.")  What's more, I believe that I will be happier in direct proportion to what I do get rid of.  It's still a theory, but it's one that I'm putting to the test. 

I've done some organizing and some "baby purging" before, but nothing like the "big daddy purging" going on today!   I started with the baby clothes because they have been the bane of my existence for far too long.  Tucked under Maggie's bed for all these years, I was constantly having to repack it all because the children would think, (and what kid wouldn't?) "These would make great doll clothes!" and then proceed to pull them all out of their nicely organized home.  It was exhausting having to pick up their dirty clothes AND the now dirty baby clothes all. the. time.  I finally decided that I could easily get rid of half of what I've accumulated in baby clothing since Hannah was born--in 2000.  Granted, I've been lucky to be able to pass down clothes from one kid to the next, but after thinking about it, I really only used my absolute favorite little outfits on the girls.  I now have only two under-the-bed type rolling containers for newborns all the way to 4T!   Three big white plastic bags are full of decent clothing that I am going to pass along to someone else.  I can't even tell you how good it feels!  What's better is that I'll never have to repack those clothes again, because as soon as this new little one outgrows them, they are getting donated as well!  (Oh, and I'm storing them under the crib so as to avert all temptations to dress up dolls with them!  I know, I's about time.)

So, I have lots on my plate for the next few months because I know that it's going to take me that long to go through things.  Luckily I have nesting on my side right now. :)  If only my energy was equal to it!  For now, I'm concentrating on clothes, then toys will have their turn.  I'm not sure which drives me crazier....

Wish me luck!  I don't think I'll have too hard of a time throwing things out, but the rest of the family may have other ideas....

Sunday, July 10, 2011

One More Month....

In somewhat of a panic yesterday, I realized that school starts in one month.  One month from tomorrow, to be exact.  We do start a bit earlier than most schools, but I'm still left wondering what happened to our summer?  Could the highlight of Summer 2011 really be our attempt at a vacation at Flaming Gorge?  I need to plan something really cool STAT!  Something that's dud-proof and will give ME a better memory of my final summer pregnancy.  Because let's be honest, the kids had a GREAT time camping.  Maggie has even proclaimed that her favorite part of the trip as when the wind came roaring through the canyon like a freight train and collapsed our tent--while we were in it!  I'm pretty sure it's only the parents left with bad memories of things because of plans going wrong or things not quite working out the way we'd hoped or envisioned them to.  Then again, maybe its just me.

So, anyway, we've got a 4 1/2 week window of opportunity here, before another summer gets written in the annuls of history, and because I'm a little OCD, I started getting ready in the basement.  You see, I need to go clothes shopping.  I need to know what clothes can be handed down, which pants are salvageable, which need to be cut into shorts or capris, and if there are ANY stainless shirts hanging in closets.  Before that can be determined, we had to clean up rooms, and I mean get into every nook and cranny where my children seem to tuck things for no apparent reason. Before that can be done, we needed to get all the laundry done, so all the clothes were in one place.  It was a fun day!

Of course, once the rooms met with my approval, the toy room also had to be cleaned because it has become a veritable dumping ground for socks.  Yep, socks.  For whatever reason, the girls decided the best place to remove their socks is amidst all the toys and in the cupboards downstairs.  I think during cleanup yesterday, we pulled out at least a dozen pairs.  I suppose that flip flop season has pushed the sock shortage from the forefront, or I surely would have noticed it...

After the kids (mom) finally got things organized and clean, I sent them to bed (yes, it took all. day. long.) and began sorting through the collection of grass stained, holey kneed khakis, navys and jeans to find that I had a total of 10 pairs of pants that could be reused for the upcoming school year.  That's about 1/3 of what I need in order to not have to do laundry every single day.  As for shirts--I never even got around to them!  It was all about the pants yesterday....  So, I guess I will make a trip to the DI and to Savers next week to load up on 20 pairs of pants, and hope they have enough for my whole brood.  I've discovered that for the same price as cheap pants from a retail store, I can generally find a few vintage pairs that are better quality and in good enough condition to last at least as long as the cheap, brand new pairs.  And let's face it--buying clothes for 4 children is hard enough on my pocketbook, especially when I still have 4 different school supply lists to fill!  I'm tired already.

As for that "ultimate" summer activity, I'm still working on it.....we'll see if there are any funds left after school shopping.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Stringham Family "Trip" 2011

After getting home from our trip to Flaming Gorge, I sat down and wrote an entire novel on all the things that happened {i.e. went wrong} between Friday and Tuesday.  I uploaded 40 pictures, and literally spent hours writing and then carefully placing the pix in their appropriate spots along the way.  Upon returning to my project after dinner last night, I discovered that blogger had deleted THE ENTIRE THING.  While I still remember every detail of the trip, I'm having the hardest time motivating myself to rewrite everything, especially since all my wittiness seems to have disappeared along with my previous post.  Therefore, I will spend the next 2 hours RE-uploading all 40 pictures {because the combination speed of blogger and my laptop makes me feel like I've returned to DOS mode}and then I'll decide whether to give you the Cliff's Notes Version that I'm leaning toward, or the full version I may try to regurgitate.  Thankfully, your wait time will be much shorter than mine......

Cliff's Notes version it is!

My beauties so happy at the beginning of the trip!

Dixon not very happy with the late start and bad signage in the Ashley National Forest that put us behind another hour.

Mom and Dad were not as happy in the morning as the girls were, after sleeping on a slab of rock instead of their air mattress, thanks to a corroded air pump.

The National Park Service didn't know this little guy was going to be at this campground or they would have been much more clear in their description of the site.  i.e. "There is a 1700 ft., unfenced drop into the gorge about 20 yards away from your tent."

Have you seen this shake & pour pancake mix?  Campers dream!

Picnic site @ Flaming Gorge Dam where Mike took the girls fishing with his $11.00 pole he bought at the Evanston Walmart because his fishing gear was left at the bottom of the stairs waiting their turn to be loaded into the Suburban.

"Petting Zoo" at the Flaming Gorge Lodge that consisted of a donkey, a goat, two llamas and a miniature horse--none of which wanted to be pet.  I thought the sign nailed to a nearby tree stating the animal's prices was a nice touch.

Bridget Dorothy was so excited when she found out her horse's name was Dorothy!

Dixon resting after the first of his 3 falls.  The kid is like a peanut butter sandwich that always lands jelly-side down.  I may have to get him a helmet.

Instead of showing you my bedhead, I decided to show you my twin's instead.

View of the drop off.

Could they be any cuter?!  Seriously!

Our attempts at containing Dixon in the stroller were thwarted when he figured out he could just stand up and walk anyway.

Decided not to drive in to Dutch John for the fireworks since the camp host told us we could see them from the ridge.  We did not stay to watch the entire quarter-sized display.

40 miles to the nearest church + no showers at our campsite = our Sunday nature hike.

The one and only place with fencing.

Afternoon thundershowers EVERY day produced some lightning that hit this tree about 20 yds. away from Mike and Dixon.

The lightning blew the bark almost 15 ft. away from the tree.  We started noticing several trees after that which had been hit by lightning previously.  Not a good ratio for a campground with PEOPLE in it.

4th of July Parade @ Vernal.

Bridget giving us a replay of her puking episode on the way down the canyon into Vernal.

Since when does the drill team ride unicycles?

Utah Field House of Natural History aka the dinosaur museum

Dippy the diplodychus' 112 millionth (give or take a few thousand) birthday.

Ended our excursion to Vernal at the Big Kahuna Waterslide Park.  That meant ONE waterslide, a community of people who actually thought they looked good in a bikini, and a lovely specimen who opted for tattoos over a top row of teeth. I'm quite certain I'll only go back to Flaming Gorge if the following conditions are met: 1) They grow more trees so we can camp in the shade; 2) We get a boat; and 3) A plague wipes out whatever it was that gave me the worst allergies I've ever had in my life, forcing me to walk around with paper towels shoved up my nostrils and eyes so swollen and watery that I looked like someone punched me in the face.  I think I'll want someone to punch me in the face if I ever suggest going to Flaming Gorge again.