LIfe Books and Decluttered Items For February 2014

container of pens and pencils

February found the cold spell continuing in our part of the country.  While this made it hard to do some things, or to even be motivated to do them, what it did help with was continuing to declutter items.

After such a good result in January, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to keep up the pace.  Turns out I passed by the 136 items I had gathered last month and found over 155 items to declutter this month.  Additionally, I was able to get out my sewing machine for the first time in 3 years.  While my pile of mending wasn’t overly large, there were several items that had accumulated.  I have most of it taken care of, though there are still a few to finish up.  Recently one of my kids figured out how to put a hole in the knee of every pair of jean owned.  While I have iron patches on, I need to finish sewing around the edges to help keep them on.

It was while looking for sewing notions that I came across the many sewing projects that I had started but not finished.  It was sew tempting … okay bad joke …. so tempting to be distracted and finish them up.  After all, doing a craft/sewing project is much more fun than working your way through the basement or talking down wallpaper.  While hard I had to remind myself:

“Focus!  There will be a time when I can work on these, but this isn’t it.  Finish what you are working on first.  These aren’t going anywhere.  They’ve been here 3 years, they can wait a month or two.”

Looking around I still see areas I need to focus on and clear out.  I can’t believe there are 301 fewer items around the house than there were at the beginning of the year.

February’s decluttered items (165+):

4 card games
24 piece small puzzle
15 children’s books
2 homemade puzzles
1 homemade book
2 key chains
bookmark
vest
4 small toys
2 table runners
6 place mats and napkins
old faded table cloth
6 place mats
4 place mats
4 place mats with napkins and rings
6 place mats with napkins and chopsticks
4 cloth liners for trays
coin purse
luggage tag
clip
2 bottles nutrient supplements
1 decorative ornament
3 cassette tapes
2 kids workbooks
1 large basket
2 Styrofoam coolers
1 table top gas grill
1 utensil holder
1 saucer
1 used coloring book
5 gallon bucket of old paint
1 broken bottom of drawer
2 bottles of frozen bubble solution
1 vest
1 watch
1 Troll doll
1 frisbee
2 twin fitted sheets
2 twin mattress covers
2 twin duvet covers
1 pillow sham
1 pillow case
2 balls
1 key chain
1 washer drain hose
1 dryer electrical cord
1 milk crate
3 outdated spice bottles
2 shirts
1 pair of shorts
10 small toys

There may have been more items that found their way into the boxes (or trash) but which I had forgotten to write down.  That’s okay.  The goal is to declutter them, not write them down.  🙂

paper file storage boxes organization

In my urge to declutter, I find that I am also more likely to clear out paper clutter immediately rather than hang on to them.  At first I felt bad for not hanging on to every paper the kids bring home. Previously I would keep it for a few days then figure out where it should go – trash, recycling, kids’ play room, or keep.  Now, I do it as they come home and show me their backpacks.  This has created opportunities to talk through this process with the kids.  They are finally getting to the point where they may want to keep something for about 20 minutes before realizing they don’t really want it.  At which point I have often heard, “I don’t really want this.  Can I recycle it?”  Love it.

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I’m now at the point in the basement that the kids’ stuff is next in line.  This will take more time due to having to go through papers and pictures and items, some of which I aim to keep only because of who gave it to them.  I will also be taking time to put pictures into albums.  A few years back their birth mom gave us a stack of photos from when they were younger and of some other family members.  Even better, she wrote who the people were on the back of the photo, how they were related, and an idea of what was going on in the picture.  These are definitely things that I don’t want to get lost or damaged.  There are also Life Books that need to be finished.

What is a Life Book?  Well, think of it as a scrapbook of sorts for foster or adoptive kids.  With the possibility of multiple moves, various people coming in and out of their lives, and experiences their birth families may not be a part of, you can see how a kid may feel a bit lost or like part of their life didn’t really happen.  A Life Book helps to document these things so that the kid has a place to remember them or keep them straight.  It also allows the adults in their lives to understand where they have been and show the kids that their past is important, even if it happened in a place or with people the current adults don’t know.  Here is an example of Life Book pages from the Iowa Foster & Adoptive Parents Association, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the University of South Carolina. For example there is a page that shows where the kid has lived previously.  It starts with a picture of a house (the first place you lived) and works its way along a road to the next house, then the next, and so on.  Unfortunately it doesn’t have enough houses for our kids, but that is where it can be personalized.  There is no right way or wrong way to do it.  Does the kid only want to write down their favorite places?  Place they stayed for a certain length of time?  Or do they want to write them all down and make a second page to keep documenting them?  These are all “right” ways to do it.  The Children’s Home Society & Family Services, in Minnesota, has an explanation of what the different parts of the books can be and suggestions on how to handle them.

All this to say, I will be very surprised if I am able to declutter as many items as in January or February.  However, that is a challenge I am very willing to take on and accomplish.

Have you  had a chance to look through a drawer, shelf, or box lately?  What was the oddest thing you found?