Tag Archives: clutter

Swag bag scramble

I am certain the following described events never occur in other households.

I attended a recent “health” fair event at my workplace. The typical vendors were there – eyes, dental, medical, fire safety, credit union, etc. Most the popular vendor booths were giving away the cool little freebies. Water bottles, pens, flashlights, clip magnets, canvas totes, etc. Yeah, the majority of it is cheapy stuff but I believe that for whatever reason, most of us like to collect this free clutter crap.

I get home with my scored items to show off to my family I got simply by walking around and half-assed listening intently to the vendors’ spiels. Small price to pay for this super cool can’t-go-in-the-dishwasher-super-thin water bottle! Ha! Take that, kids! That’s when I realized I forgot an important lesson I had learned when I went to a previous year’s health fair – The kids snatch up and claim ownership of the cool items so fast, you don’t even know what hit you. And you can’t stop them and say “No.” I mean, it’s quite obvious I do not need another key ring flashlight. And yes, this tote bag would be a great Halloween candy receptacle. (sigh) Easy come, easy go.

Give it a few days and Gerald had gone to a charity golf tournament. The last time he went to one of these golf dealies, he came back with what the celebrities call a swag-bag. Yes, I am fully aware Gerald’s golf goodie bag contents do not compare to that of the grab-bags afforded celebrities at their fancy shmancy events, but it’s a swag-bag for us everyday Joes and Janes, it’s a goodie bag for the common folk, people!

As expected, Gerald walks through the door with his own collected freebies and the kids were all over it. Golf balls and golf tees – You can keep those, Gerald. Koozie – I think we need one more koozie to add to the classy collection we already have stowed in our pantry. Stylus pen – Where did that thing go?? Oh, the youngest claimed it. Broken flashlight keychain – Surprisingly, no one wanted this little gem. It actually made it to the trash. The cool backpack bag all Gerald’s stuff came in? Yeah, I claimed that for when we go for our walks; it will be great for holding water bottles and doggy doo bags. Maybe it will actually last longer than the other cheap string backpacks we’ve already gone through. (a big HA goes here)

It's such a valuable collection, there are even some still in their original wrappers!
It’s such a valuable collection, there are even some koozies still in their original wrappers!

There you have it. Before you even know what happens, your children strip you of everything. And I’ve just given the goodie/swag bags as an example. I’m sure in other households, the children don’t swipe nail-clippers, screen cleaner cloths, the last of the chips, the last of the cookies, oh and Gerald just reminded me — money. I never have any idea what sort of bills, if any at all, are lurking in my wallet. I’ll set the record straight here though – the boys don’t swipe money from Mom and Dad unless they ask first. I tell them to look in my wallet and take what they need for some school something or other.

So am I right? Does this sort of phenomenon happen to anyone else? It’s just my family, isn’t it?


Keep it or toss it, uncovering the past

I’ve been doing some serious decluttering in our house. I mean, we’re talking I’m deep in the throws here. I’ll get started and if I’m really into the task at hand, I won’t come up for air for hours. For each item, I either: a) keep it (I’ll have to figure out its permanent location later); b) trash bag it; or c) Goodwill bag it. I read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and I am attempting to follow her method, albeit her encouragement of speaking to inanimate objects is a little strange.

The decluttering I’ve done so far has resulted in bags and bags of trash at the curb, and multiple trips to the donation center. But I still have a long way to go before I can declare this house of ours to be clean.

After so many years, I can honestly say, wow, we sure have collected a lot of shit. And the items unburied run the gambit from plain boring (I found some insurance claim letters from 1997! BOR-ING!), all the way to fun memory jogging (I found Gerald’s and my YMCA membership ID cards, complete with pictures, from before we were married, but we had fibbed to the Y and claimed we were already husband and wife so we could get a cheaper rate! FUN!).

I happened upon a bundle of mailed Vegas wedding fliers/pamphlets. After Gerald and I became engaged, we toyed with the idea of having a Vegas wedding. We didn’t know if we wanted a big costly to-do and thought maybe it would be fun to run away to Vegas and get married by Elvis or something. This was before standard household internet access so I had sent inquiries to all the wedding chapels the old fashioned way. For any of you youngsters out there, this means I sent mailed inquiries through the United States Postal Service, and then I got responses through the United States Postal Service. And boy did I get responses. Some were simple and plain, and one included a sprinkle of confetti. That one was my favorite.

Thank you, thank you very much.
Thank you, thank you very much.

Now when I came across some old diaries, oh ewww is all I got to say about that! It’s a good thing I didn’t already die before I started this decluttering project. I would NOT have wanted any of my family members to run across my old diaries. Oh, just imagine it, high school girl drama all the way. And then he said, and then I said. And she’s such a bitch and oh my life is so horrible and hard and nobody understands my problems. Oh woe is me!¬†Ya know, that kind of drama. Throw in some shameful teenager/young adult behavior, and that’s just NOT something I need my kids reading about their mom.

Something else that’s happened since I started sifting through all this “past” clutter – How different I am, how much I’ve grown as a person, is more obvious to me now more than ever. I’m so thankful to have matured into this woman who is a pretty decent wife, if I do say so myself. And how cool it is to be a mom. Every once in a while, when I’m hanging out with my sister, she looks at me and laughs, “I can’t believe someone married you!” No worries, I know she says this in sisterly love. And it is funny. If you look at the person my sister used to know 20 something years ago, I can’t believe someone married me either!

I had no idea what awaited me when I first embarked on my journey to a clutter-free house. I can only imagine what else is lurking in that cedar chest, and the other closets and cabinets I have yet to tackle. Guess I’ll soon find out.