Paperwork Can Trigger Sentiment

There I was, running paper through an austere, bottom of the line shredder, bored, trying to find some sort of rhythm in the machine. The zip of the loud motor, the fact it only can shred 5 sheets at a time…one, two, three, four, five sheets….one two place into the machine…bzzzzzzz… Again, one, two three four…wait, what’s this? My son’s first 24 hours diaper and nursing log! I know – I was all “Awe! and I can’t believe I still have this,” and so I stop and think about the birth of my son, the days in the hospital, and the crazy journey that has been the past 3 1/2 years. I’m staring out my kitchen window, listening to my kids wrestling in the living room, time traveling.

Then I think of my daughter. She was that age when we last moved, and now she is about to turn eight. So sniffling, trying to feel more of the sweet than the bitter of her growing up, I search my laptop for a song I wrote to her when she was less than a year old. I wrote it when we lived in my favorite place in Tennessee, which is lush and colorful and warm and a place my heart goes to smile. So the paperwork woke this all up in me, and I will likely be a puddle for my last weeks in Montana, but for reasons one wouldn’t expect: It is nice to take the trail back through the Cumberland Gap today:

SLEEP, BABY BUG – by a.l. graysay

Time to sleep, little baby-bug,
Tickling Teddy Bear’s nose, slowly yawning.
Arms in a night-night hug,
Mama will sing a night-night tune.
Time to sleep, baby-bug.
I will see you in the early light.
When the shiny sun, like a giant gumdrop is up.
We will rub the sleepy night away your sleepy night eyes,
Then we will laugh, and sing and jump!

Time to sleep, little baby bug
Eyes slowly blinking, looking out the window.
In the spiky bushes, do you see the pink rose
Blooming in the yard?
We strolled past it coming home today.
While the yellow gumdrop sun was out.
Dream about roses and gumdrops in the sleepy night.
Dream about roses and gumdrops when the moon is out.
I will kiss you many good nights,
Tomorrow we will laugh and dance about!

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The Purge Cont’d: A Look at Household Documents

It seems I had spoken my ideas on getting rid of so much household stuff with ease.  But then, the paperwork cleanup began.  I found myself tearing through a lot of household files, shaking my head in amazement that I have a natural gas bill from 2009, from a house we no longer own, in a different state.

I’ve stumbled on some revelations about myself, perhaps things I didn’t want to see before.  Admitting my conditioning has led me to this sorry state of manila file folders and fluorescent sticky flags.  I see the paperclips bulging out of shape, the metal fatiguing under the fat stacks of receipts and insurance benefits statements.  It was overwhelming, to say the least.

Okay, so maybe I was a little over zealous with my paper work at home.  Maybe it was because I didn’t know what I was doing, or maybe because I do everything to the extreme rule following (and then add extra for good measure).  Maybe it was because I wasn’t very organized, and after years of working in an office have learned better methods for filing and disposing of papers.  Maybe it is from working where we are required to retain every charge card transaction staple it to the monthly statement and annotate it and sign it, and have another person sign it, and file for 3 years.  Good grief. 

I certainly don’t need to do that at home, especially since we have this wonderful thing called the internet. I can go ‘lectronic with my statements, now.  Maybe, just maybe, it was because I didn’t want to spend much free time sorting papers when it was time to do an annual clean up.  It’s so much easier to pay the bill, stick it in its file, and forget about it!  I certainly have plenty more interesting things to do at home!

I still faltered on a few items I have kept, and if you want a good website to help you with your important papers, I found one http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Money/Personal-Finance/Managing-Household-Records.shtml.

Sure, when in doubt, I keep stuff, like credit card records that may contain a tax-related document, but for the most part, I’ve learned my lesson: save what I need and keep up with the annual shredding!

Time with My Daughter

I had an evening with my 7 year old daughter.  No husband in the house. Son asleep.  So this is what it’s like!  I’d been wondering as I’d observed my friends with their singular children, what it was like. We had four years as the Three Musketeers (my husband, daughter, and I) before our incredible Little Mister had arrived. Since then, we hadn’t had much time with only her.  As my daughter has gotten older, she’s met different phases and challenges, but she often met them in the audience of her baby brother.  So now it’s just she and I on a cool March evening at home.

It’s quiet. So quiet it’s luxurious.  Now she’s old enough she can sit next to me on the couch and read. And did I mention it’s quiet?  And I can write a little and make a cup of tea for each of us.  When I walk back to my room to get my pajamas on, there is no rushing of toddler feet followed by rushing of her feet followed by my pleading at them to just. Give. Me. Two. Minutes. To change. Clothes! I just change and come back and she’s content. I bring her a cup of chamomile and she thanks me and yawns.   She shoulder surfs next to me, but that’s alright.

My girl, we’ll call her Peanut, thrives on the energy around her.  I see that more tonight.  The TV is off and she opens a book, settling into the blanket we share on the couch.  She continues to devour a Beverly Cleary book, which makes my heart sing.  Silently I pray her love of reading stays with her throughout her life.  And I steal a look at her beauty and her health, and I can’t help but grin.  She doesn’t even notice it, she is so focused on the story of Ramona Quimby, and nothing else. 

When all is calm, so is she.  And so am I. We’ll have to learn to find calm grounds within for those times when life gets hectic, which sometimes feels like most days.  But tonight, I take the sleepy-time tea and soft living-room light, the sagging couch, and my thoughts, and just meditate awhile on this moment with her.  It’s perfect, just like her.

The Purge: 2014

The best part of moving by far is the Purge.  I’ve moved, as a married person, three times, and this will be the fourth time.  We started with having very little and hanging on to ALL of it.  You never know when you might need a 2 foot piece of 2” x 4”.  There didn’t seem to be much sense in giving away that half of a bottle of olive oil.  That stuff is expensive, and we were paying for the UHaul, anyway.

This time, we are older. We have the same dog and car, but we also have two smallish children and a lot more material possessions.  It is liberating to give away so much to others.  I don’t know why we wait to move to do this.

It all starts when I am cleaning.  Regular housework, I am talking about.  I would normally chuck the toys into one of four storage ottomans and call it good.  That’s what we have them for, after all.  But now, I have a new perspective.  I think “Hmm…this is a toy that isn’t really played with and doesn’t need to be packed and unpacked later, and I can donate this to the thrift store.”  This holds true with so many household goods. 

We have already been thinking our bowls and plates are usable but not the greatest.  In that light, why not donate to the Goodwill and then get different used dishes once we get to our new digs?  Window treatments, the lawnmower, those extra planting pots, and let’s get real – why DO I save baby clothes?  I mean, there is a baby that could use those threads I have hoarded away in a box.  If there is one thing that “What Not to Wear” has taught me it’s that clothing doesn’t need to have sentimental value.  Clothing is a need, and now that my kids aren’t 3 months old, they can never wear that onesie again.  It feels good to give someone the baby and toddler clothes, as others have done for me over the years, versus shaking my head every time I look at the box in the closet.

One starts to wonder if it’s really worth the hassle of unpacking and organizing and trying to find a new place for it in a different home?  I have found that often we ended up donating once we got to the new state.  So this time I’m ditching the items we don’t use anymore and plan on making one of the freshest starts we ever have. 

As much as I like having my own place and my own things to help keep me secure feeling, I do aspire to have better adjusted children.  I hope to teach them, somehow, to be sure-footed in times of change, and that materialism can be enjoyable but not all there is to life.  I crave serenity over security these days.

The last time I did this, I was 17.  My parents had listed the house for sale as part of their pending divorce settlement.  I literally was about to live on the road out of a van and a tent.  (It was fine and not as dire as it might sound.)  It felt really amazing to give away furniture, pare down belongings, and realize that memorabilia does not include every stuffed animal I ever collected.  Sure, I kept some things that ended up going down in one large Volkswagen flame, but that’s another story.  This was a huge change from growing up in suburbia and having all the spoils that go with that.  At first, to transcend was awful.  Then, it was truly freeing.  Nothing left to clean up inside the house or put away.  Hitting the open road and having just two backpacks.  

I feel another big purge, and I welcome it.  It’s ritualistic, cleansing, starting over, and beginning anew as we move on this spring. Sure we won’t have just two backpacks per person, but I hope to free us from that which weighs us down and is a burden.  With any luck, unpacking will be more a matter of rediscovering the things that we appreciate and less of a set of chores.