Family Matters

Making Room

Over the weekend, I started cleaning up/clearing out my "sewing room" . . . which is technically not a room, but a designated corner in our basement (albeit a room-sized corner.)  Technically, it's not a "sewing room" either, because it houses much more than just my sewing stuff (like . . . all my yarn and stitching stuff is in there, too.)  

Anyway.  I'm lucky to have chosen this particular corner for my "sewing room" . . . because it has a built-in storage space along one wall with a small closet, several drawers, and a cupboard.  I should be able to keep my stuff neat-and-tidy with all that built-in storage space, non?  Ha!  Of course not.  Because that storage space is storing stuff that is (mostly) not sewing or knitting or stitching related.

And therein lies the problem.  In order to properly clean up/clear out my "sewing room," I first need to tackle that built-in storage space with a little Kon-Mari action.  

And therein lies the other problem.  Most of the stuff in the closet . . . is sentimental stuff.  The flotsam and jetsam of my kids' childhoods.  Old school papers and mementoes and art projects.  Stuff I've been dreading sorting through for years and years now (and especially since I took an initial pass through much of that stuff in preparation for their high school graduations; I'd seen the enemy . . . ).

Last Saturday afternoon, though, in the midst of a snowstorm, I plunged in!  It turned out to be quite a nice trip down memory lane, actually.  I culled the best and most representative samples of my kids' school papers and artwork and programs and awards to curate a little pile of memories for each of them -- and I recycled the rest.  Along the way, I photographed several things to share with them immediately, and together we decided on some items that were on-the-bubble.  It ended up being . . . not so bad.  And - BONUS - I have freed up a huge amount of storage space in that closet area.

Want to see a few things I found in the closet?  (3 things maybe . . . since it's Thursday?)

1 - I found lots of wonderful school papers and drawings, mostly from the elementary years.  Eventually I came to understand the folly of my ways in keeping all the stuff, and by middle school and high school, I was much more particular about what I saved.  But those early papers brought back so many wonderful memories -- and the kids loved seeing how they wrote and drew as young children.  One that brought laughs to all 3 of us is this gem from Brian.  He made an alphabet Mother's Day book for me in second grade.  Here is his entry for the letter R:

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Yep.  I am the proud mother of a kid that doesn't reek.  (And that alphabet book made it into Brian's pile of papers to save.)

2 - I had several boxes filled with art projects from the elementary years.  Some were from school; some (especially from Erin) were projects they made at home.  (I will just say, in retrospect, it is amazing how many things kids can make from construction paper, cotton balls, glue, and glitter.)  Here is a wooden nutcracker that Erin made with my Dad in his workshop one winter:

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Sadly, this one didn't make the cut!  Erin and I decided it was time for this guy to go.  (Along with a pottery "tray" she made that weighed about 30 pounds, and a matching "mug" with a handle heavy enough to deliver an upper body workout with every lift.)

3 - I also had stashed and saved boxes of memorabilia from various special events over my kids' school years.  Concert programs, academic awards, newspaper clippings, announcements, party invitations -- the kind of stuff that you think you're going to want to save forever, but really . . . not so much.  I kept the best and most meaningful of the bunch and recycled the rest.  I also found about 20 copies of the newspaper with this article:

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Twenty years ago, Erin (along with her special "Fluffy French Toast" recipe) was featured in the monthly Grand Rapids Press Cooking with Kids segment.  It was a Big Deal . . . and I had (almost) forgotten about it.  I saved a copy for Erin, and the rest went in recycling.  (20 years . . . and Tom is still motified by the highlight of his quote.  "Did I really say that?" he asked when he saw it.  Yep.  He did.)

I'm glad I finally just got in there are tackled those boxes of kid-stuff.  It was quicker, easier, and way more fun than I expected -- and now I have all that room in my closet.

How about you?  Have you sorted through the sentimental memorabilia in your closets?  Or are you better at culling through that stuff from the get-go?

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Be sure to hop on over to Carole's today for more Three on Thursday fun.

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And . . . if you are interested in Erin's recipe for French toast, let me know.  I saved that, too.



  


Catching Up . . . In Three Photos

We had a perfect California get-away last week.  It was ideal, really -- a quick trip with only one objective:  spend time with Erin and Keith.  No side trips.  No schedule.  No expectations.  We loved it!

Erin gave us a personal, guided tour of the LinkedIn campus when we arrived.  I have visited LinkedIn before (back when Erin was an intern), but Tom hadn't been there yet.  It's very cool to see where your kid works . . . and it's super interesting to see one of these tech companies from the inside!

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We had a lot of fun just hanging out . . . sampling California beer (so many great ones to choose from!) and eating what turned out to be a lot of amazing gourmet hamburgers.  Erin and Keith introduced us to Mochi ice cream.  (I'll just say . . . some flavors are better than others, but the texture takes some getting used to.)  And we also visited Psycho Donuts -- Silicon Valley's "gourmet donut asylum."  Great fun.

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We played a lot of games.  Erin and Keith love games and puzzles of all kinds -- everything from sophisticated video games to Uno around the dinner table -- and we were happy to play along with them.  They introduced us to a couple of new board games, we went mini golfing.  We even did an escape room, which was WAY fun.  (Basically, it was like a real-life video game where walls move and things happen when you solve the puzzles.  Very exciting!  Highly recommended for family fun.)

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We had a fabulous time.  It was so nice to just relax for a few days with Erin and Keith.  I'm so happy that Erin has a job she loves, and has settled so well into her new life with Keith in California.  
(It's just . . . so far away.  Y'know?)  
(But a great place to visit.  So there is that.)

And here's a bonus photo (because this one just kind of sums up the whole trip) . . .

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Head over to Carole's to read more Three on Thursday posts today!

 

 


Tulip Tales

7/30

Last spring, I created a Mom-garden in memory of my mom, and I planted it full of her favorite summer flowers on Mother's Day.  (You can read about it here.)  The little garden grew and flourished , bringing me smiles and happy memories all summer long.

I've cleared the garden out for the season now, though.  It's resting again until spring.

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Earlier this fall, I ordered spring bulbs from White Flower Farm, and I've been . . . waiting . . . to plant them.  The weather hasn't really been cooperating when it comes to bulb-planting this fall.  Although we've had cool, wet weather, we haven't had a real frost yet -- let alone a freeze.  So it's still a bit early to plant bulbs (but, surely, getting close).

Included in that bulb order?  Mixed tulip bulbs -- for my Mom-garden.  I don't usually plant tulips in my own garden.  I love tulips -- but they tend to be a bit more hit-and-miss than most spring bulbs.  The squirrels really love them, they don't naturalize well, and they perform best if you dig them up and replace them each season.  Which is really too much work for me. . . So I tend to enjoy tulips in other people's gardens!  

But.

My mom LOVED tulips!  

Late yesterday afternoon, I happened to glance out my kitchen window at the now-empty Mom-garden.  It was bathed in sunlight.  (In fact, it was the only spot in my garden still getting any of the quickly setting sunlight.)

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The garden beckoned!

I grabbed my gardening stuff and headed out to plant my 30 tulip bulbs.

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And while I was digging and planting and filling, I thought about my mom and her tulips.  I remembered . . . 

How she used to cut stems of spring tulips for me when I was a little girl, and then carefully wrap them in a wet napkin and a baggie so I could carry them to school to give my teacher.

How she planted tulips in her own gardens each fall -- with a variety of bloom times so there would be maximum tulip bloom throughout the spring.

How a couple of years ago, the two of us worked together on a very miserable-cold afternoon to plant bulbs for one of her neighbors who was struggling with a health issue and unable to plant her own bulbs.  My mom wanted everyone to enjoy the magic of colorful tulips after a bleak winter.

How much she loved volunteering in the Tulip Time Festival Information booth each May in Holland -- tiptoeing through the tulips in her own wooden shoes!*

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My memories made for a wonderful bulb-planting afternoon.  It was almost like . . . gardening with my mom again.

(On a roll, I decided she would probably like some grape hyacinths, too.)

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When I was finished planting, I packed up my stuff and turned to head back to my garage -- and was awestruck by the sun shining over my back gate -- looking down on me with warmth and light.

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I'm thinking those tulips are going to be especially gorgeous next spring.  Y'know?

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* We donated my mom's Tulip Time costume to the folks who run the Information Booth, so it will continue to greet visitors to Holland's Tulip Time Festival each spring.

 


Meeting My Goal

My daughter, Erin, has always been . . . her own self.  Unique; imaginative; smart and creative.  And totally out-of-the-box from the get-go.  It's been fun - and always a bit of an adventure - to watch her grow up; to watch her unfold.  

When she went off to college, she met her match in Keith.  The two of them just . . . fit together from the start.  And it's been a delight to watch them grow and unfold  . . . together.

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No one would ever use the word "conventional" to describe either Erin or Keith.  They do things their own way!  Always have; always will.

So when it came time to plan their wedding, I knew we'd have fun with it.  As the mother-of-the-bride, my biggest goal was to make sure Erin and Keith had a wedding day that was perfect . . . for them.  That their wedding turned out be just what they wanted -- even if it was a bit out-of-the-box; a day that would make them happy.

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Sometimes, they embraced tradition.  (Tom walked Erin down the aisle, for example.)

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And sometimes, they did not.  (They had a cake as part of their "dessert buffet" -- but no "wedding cake" and no cake cutting ceremony.)

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The wedding was small and intimate, with a venue only blocks from the beach.

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There were games to play and costumes to try on.  A friend performed a poem (poetry-slam style) that she wrote just for Erin and Keith (so powerful and moving that there was not a dry eye among the women at my table).

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There was jazz and some spontaneous dancing and cornhole match-ups and even an appearance by Party Duck (because friends can surprise and delight).

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But mostly, there was love and joy.

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I feel like I met my goal:  The day was lovely and relaxed and fun . . . just the way Erin and Keith wanted it to be!

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(And - just because I'm sure you're all dying to know - I wore the silver sparkle shoes!)  (Both of them.)

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Dispatch from Wedding Central

Just a quick little check-in to let you know that I'm climbing aboard the Wedding Crazy Train today.  

Houseguests.

Last-minute details and decisions.*

A transportation schedule that looks something like a battle strategy.

(You know.)

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But mostly . . . so much love in my heart.

I'll be back next Tuesday to tell you all about it.

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* I still haven't made a final decision about my shoes.  Maybe I'll wear one of each???


A Whirlwind

Last Wednesday, Erin arrived to spend a few days in Michigan.  It was great to see her --- but, WOW!  What a whirlwind!  (Because we had QUITE An Agenda for this visit.)

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We spent some time at the beach (specifically . . . Oval Beach . . . one of the most beautiful stretches of Lake Michigan shoreline in southern Michigan).  We were there, officially, to scope out wedding photography locations.  But the day was beautiful - warm and sunny - so we took some time to play.  (The water was icy -- far too cold to wade in, but the sand was nice and warm.)

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We accomplished MUCH in the way of wedding planning, meeting at the venue to decide details, menu, photography, and flowers.  (Here's where the ceremony will take place.)

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And Erin said "yes to the dress." (But not one of these "lace monstrosities."  Erin has never "done lace," and nothing about that changed when it came time for her to choose a dress.)

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Both Erin and I needed to fortify ourselves frequently -- as the "wedding industry" is pretty disgusting -- and SO over the top.  (Just sayin.)

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We also did a lot of non-wedding shopping so Erin will have a good working-wardrobe for her summer internship at . . . 

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(She'll be doing technical writing and software documentation for LinkedIn in California beginning next week.)

There was still plenty of time for relaxing and eating and drinking; watching hockey with Tom; spending time with Poppy.  It was a great couple of days -- very productive and kind of exhausting, but fun.

Before we knew it . . . 

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she was gone.  (With a big suitcase that arrived Empty and departed Full Of Stuff.)

Definitely a whirlwind -- but the kind of whirlwind I welcome any time.