Daily Archives: March 29, 2008

50 Lbs Lighter


Over the years, as boys will do, my sons have accumulated a large quantity of LEGOs. I’ve been a pretty conscientious mom, taking the time to keep the instructions together, picking up thousands of LEGOs and putting them back into the bin, finding and utilizing a larger bin when the LEGOs outgrew their home, and NOT vacuuming them up, but instead, bending over thousands of times to pick up these teeny pieces and putting them away. After many years of watching the kids play with the LEGOs, I noticed they were not being used much anymore. I checked with the boys so see if they were ready to let them go. The boys agreed they were ready.

I generally don’t list anything on Ebay, since it’s faster and easier to drop things off at Goodwill, but I wondered what a huge lot of LEGOs might go for on Ebay. I was amazed to find that LEGOs indeed are quite worth selling on Ebay. We took a lovely photo for our listing (only one shot) which I am including for you here.

I should mention that we discovered the weight of the blocks by my 13-year-old son weighing himself with and without the bin. NO WAY was I getting on the scale with that huge, heavy thing. I already see a big enough number on my friendly scale without adding 45 pounds onto that number. We also took them to the post office to get the exact weight, so we could, you know, price the shipping correctly.

For the first several days, the only auction action consisted of multiple emails from people trying to get them for a ridiculously low price, asking me what my reserve price was (isn’t that usually kept a secret?), and checking to see if I could do things I had already said I wouldn’t do on the listing. (Apparently, their parents didn’t do a good job of saying “no” and meaning it.)

As the auction neared its close, the bidding picked up, but still slowly enough I wasn’t sure we would even reach my reserve price. Imagine my surprise when the bidding reached and quickly surpassed my reserve! Eventually the LEGOs sold for $250! We have just returned from the post office where we shipped the lot off to the lucky new owner.

My husband and I went to the post office together to ship the LEGOs today and he was highly skeptical that I had charged the correct price for shipping. He used to work for the post office, so maybe that influenced him, but I was Pretty Sure I had been careful to put the right info in. I didn’t really want to charge the guy $40 for shipping and end up paying $75. Smart thinking, eh? Dear husband was delighted to see that the shipping price was correct, as was I. And off the LEGOs went to their new home.

So, I’m 50 pounds lighter! It feels good.

Now let’s get back to those photos . . .

More Alphabet Soup

F is for Farmer. When I was a kid, I spent many magical days on my grandmother’s farm in Oklahoma during summer breaks from school. I loved her farm more than anywhere I had ever been. There was something so beautiful and special about the wheatfields gently swaying in the wind, and something so noble about my relatives bringing in the harvest. I felt so honored to ever be a part of the harvest, whether I was bringing “the men” meals in the field, or driving the combine (only once). Even though I was around the farm and farmers a lot of my childhood, farming and gardening did not rub off on me. I suppose I have always been moving a little too fast to see the value in me personally planting and waiting for the fruit or flower. I do have hope that someday I will enjoy gardening, but for now, I’m definitely not a farmer.

G is for Garage Saler. Once, when my husband and I moved to another country for an extended period, we did have a pretty big moving sale and made a decent amount of money. Besides that sale, I’ve had maybe two others and the last one convinced me that there is no way it is worth my time to stand outside for hours and hours just to make $36, which is the grand total I made at my last sale. Not only do I not like HAVING garage sales, I almost never GO to garage sales. I once knew someone who managed to find a missing piece from a toyset and she only paid a nickel for it! And I hear these kinds of stories all the time and I have no doubt they are true. For me, though, the occasional swing by a garage sale satisfies any small desire I have to get bargains this way. I also only like to shop this way when I have something I am specifically looking for. I was able to get a nice desk chair and very nice TV for $35 about a year ago. It might be the same thing as the gardening/farming — if I didn’t already have fifty-eleven things to do every minute of every day, maybe I would enjoy garage-saling. But, I don’t.

H is for Hair Color. So far, my hair color is whatever it is when it grows out of my scalp. I’m getting some gray at my temples, but I still don’t have much overall. My hairdresser would be glad to cover up that gray. But, my thought is, once I start, I have to keep on coloring, and I don’t like stuff like that. I can’t tell you how many times stylists have asked me if I’m growing out some color because my hair grows lighter in the summer, and never paying much attention to it, the blond eventually grows out, leaving me with two colors of hair. I’m not morally opposed to hair color or anything, although I worry about the chemicals in the colorant. It’s just that once I start, I don’t see any way to stop. I’ll just keep my natural color for now, thank you.

I is for Impudent. When I was a kid, my neighbor “Dr. D” called me “saucy and impudent.” I THINK he was just kidding, but with many jokes there is an element of truth. Impudent means “marked by contemptuousness or cocky boldness or disregard of others: insolent.” And I know that whatever I was as a child, I wasn’t any of those things! I was such the rule-following, good-girl, adult-pleasing child that I am hard-pressed to think I would have expressed contempt, cockiness, or insolence! Dr. D., maybe you were projecting!!!

J is for Jury Member. So far in all my adult life, I have not been called for jury duty. I’ve always wondered how people who serve on juries can really disregard information they get, either through something overruled in the trial, or through the media. Maybe someday I’ll find out by being on a jury where I have to “disregard” something.

That’s all the alphabet soup in the can today.

Picture This

I’ve fast-forwarded somewhat so you can see some of my actual decluttering!

Before we got a digital camera (or two, actually), we had those old-fashion 35mm types that took photos that had to be stored somewhere other than the computer. As a result of a husband who loves to take pictures and who is rather good at it, I am the proud owner of four photo boxes, an American Girl doll box, two bags, and one large 12″ square photo box full of photos. I know they are not supposed to be stored in the basement, so they are in the coat closet of my house. Remember, we have a small house, and the closet space is very limited, and this is the best place I can think of to store these photos.

Two days ago I decided it was time to attack the photos and see if there were one or two that could be discarded. Oh, I should mention that I am not a Creative Memories afficionado, and even if I were, it would take me at least 27 years to get all these photos cropped and arranged. So, they remain, in boxes. At some point along the way, I did try to bring some organization to them and used little ziploc bags to put photos into groups. But, alas, they remained a very large, very burdensome, treasure.

As I began to look through the photos, I realized that my photographer husband has always believed that one needs to take at least 2-10 shots of something in order to get one good copy. And I also realized that I myself bought into that “get duplicates” thing. So, here’s a nice shot of baby sleeping on her handmade blanket. Oh, and here’s a duplicate of that one. No, it’s not a duplicate, just one very similar. And, here’s another similar one, and another, and another, another, and ok, this one for sure is a duplicate. And I asked myself: WHO of us, even the one pictured, wants or needs to look at 12 extremely similar photos of this precious little baby sleeping? Especially because we have several other sets of her sleeping as well. So, I culled out most of them, leaving myself with one or two of these particular shots of her sleeping. It’s not like she had colic or something and pictures of her sleeping were as hard to come by as hen’s teeth. She slept fine.

So, I began the process. Pulled out duplicates, removed really blurry photos, took out photos that were dark, and removed some of those “proofs” from the multi-shot sleeping sessions. At the end of the day, I had removed 7 pounds of photos. Here’s the photo:

I was feeling very proud at this point. 7 pounds of photos! Woohoo! I had cleared out 1 1/2 of the photo boxes and was feeling strong and confident, ready to attack the American Girl doll box the next day. Which I did. By the end of the process, I had cleared out enough photos to be able to actually get rid of the American Girl doll box!

I put the pictures into grocery bags and then into the trash. The trash even got taken out. Then I started worrying. What if I’m sorry I threw them away? It’s not like a pair of shoes that I can go and just get another one of. When these are gone, they are truly gone. I thought maybe I had better do some journaling about this before they were gone and I decided I still wanted them for some reason.

What reason could I possibly have for wanting them? I wasn’t sure, but I have learned in this decluttering process to listen to myself when I am feeling unsure about something. As I wrote, I realized that I had always had this idea of making a photo album for each of my five children and I realized that if I threw away all the duplicates, I couldn’t make pretty much identical albums for each child. But, wait! Do I WANT to make identical photo albums for each child? Wouldn’t it be more fun to make them similar albums? That is, albums with photos from all their childhoods, but different photos? That seems like it would be much more fun. Upon further reflection, I thought beyond making them for the kids and decided on a theme for my eventual photo albums: Life in _________. Each album would cover a time period when we lived in a certain town/state/country, or maybe just cover a certain time period, like college/graduate school, or our own childhoods, “Life in my Family of Origin.”

I decided at that point to get the photos back out of the trash and keep them long enough to go through them again with my new plan in mind. I feel so much better about this idea, and I am confident I will still get rid of many of the original photos I first discarded, but I am not getting rid of them anymore without some sort of plan. And with photos, I think that having a plan is probably a really good idea.

I’ve always known that getting rid of photos is for me an extremely difficult process. Is it difficult for you? I daresay there are lots of people who have even more boxes than I do who can hardly face the thought of going through them.

My thought about photos is that they don’t need any special colored papers underneath them or little stickers that tie them together with a theme. What I want when I look at photos is to read about the picture — where was this? Why did the photographer take it? Is there a story? That to me is what makes the photo special, especially years down the road when the viewer is wondering what, where, when, why, who, and how?

Picture this! I have a plan!