The Mother Lode

You asked for it. You got it.

Wait. You didn't ask for it? Well, you're getting it anyway.

So a couple dozen posts ago I think I alluded to that special place in the confines of our Quaint Cottage where all things go to die. It has been straightened, but never thoroughly winnowed. It has been ignored and very thoroughly neglected. As of this past weekend, this, my friends, is no more.

Operation Garage Clean Out started on Friday morning. Ma Luffin' Mayun and I loaded up the wee Us-es and took them over to Nana's and Pawpaw's for the day. We picked them up Friday night to let them sleep at home, and then returned them to the Grands' for the whole day on Saturday. We knew that if we were to get the epic task of cleaning out the garage anywhere near done, it would have to be without sweet and/or not-so-sweet interruptions from the kiddos.

There aren't even words to describe the mess we let the garage get into. There were nooks and crannies that had some semblance of order from long ago (i.e. Christmas decorations in their boxes and grouped together, personalized mementos boxes for each family member, etc.). Those little bright spots of organization were helpful reminders that we are fully capable of implementing workable systems, which was nice in the midst of the massive amounts of cumulative disorder we've been building up.

Here are some things that led to such a monumental clean-out job. For starters, owning too much unnecessary, unused stuff (funny how it goes back to that, huh?). Second, not caring well for some of what we do possess. This second thing shows itself especially in the haphazard way we have maintained the interior of our vehicles. Let me explain...

If we leave to go anywhere there is nearly always an accompanying sippy cup and bottle. Most times a toy is also added. Now that Brilliant Beauty emulates being a grown-ish type gal, there's usually a pocket book thrown in. Possibly a jacket or sweater. Maybe a snack. Of course there's my purse and a diaper bag. Then, no matter where we go, there is the undeniable urgency for my kiddos to remove shoes and socks and fling them about. Add to this the occasional junk mail envelopes, miscellaneous school papers, fast-food wrappers (gasp), random rocks plucked out of parking lots by tiny hands, and the cornucopia of CDs rolling around in the floor board from a frenzied effort to find the exact music to calm the savage beast(s). Stir in a couple of bedraggled parents and three kiddos who've been crammed into a backseat where no one has even pretended to maintain their own space bubble or their inside voices (our family doesn't actually come equipped with inside voices...I blame Ma Luffin' Mayun. If you know him, you blame him, too, right?). By the time this party-on-wheels rolls back up to Quaint Cottage, there ain't nobody standing in line to straighten out the fresh mess in the car. So what happens? It's starts over on the next ride. And the cycle continues.

Where the garage factors into all this is when the vehicle has reached critical mass, it's contents are emptied into a box or bag and then thrust into the garage to be dealt with "later". And so on, and so forth.

I've got no sob story. We just own too much; more than we can steward well. And even as I have winnowed within the livable space of our home I would so often just take the winnowed content to the garage. Again, until "later".

"Later" needs to be taken out to the woodshed. "Later" was Friday and Saturday.

And let me just say, we were some winnowing fools. We spanked it.

How about some pictures?

Disclaimer: Ma Luffin' Mayun would rather willingly ingest long-expired honey buns laced with pesticide than show these pictures, but in the name of catharses and for The Greater Good, he's consented. Besides, he's already had that type of honey bun, you only live once, and he needs to try something new.

And it's okay to gasp in shock and awe. Really. It is. We'll never know you did it.

Here you have it.  The nightmarish mess.  There are toys to be gotten rid of, books to be sifted through, boxes to be emptied, trash to be cleaned out, out-of-season clothes to be sorted, furniture to be decided on...Go ahead, gasp.  You can even vomit if you need to.

Same crap, different angle.  The curtain was from a long ago time when we used the garage more and I wanted to cover up the stuff being stored in the alcove.

You can see we are making progress.  This is about mid-way through our work on Friday.

More sorting and shuffling and shipping out.  That guy is the other staff member of our two-person team.

This is toward the beginning of Saturday.  By this point we had filled up our Volvo station wagon, with all but the front seats let down . . . TWICE . . . and taken stuff to the thrift store drop off.

That's a lot of cargo space for a whole lot of CRizzAP.

Goodbye THIRD carful of stuff!

Ma Luffin' Mayun is pushing the.last.box of unidentified stuff in our entire house.  Front to back, side to side.  What a great face actor.  TRUE STORY...In this, the last box, I found buried at the bottom of it an organization system I had painstakingly made once upon a time.  It was the Sidetracked Home Executive system I had borrowed from KakiBlack.  I thought hubster and I were going to bust a gut laughing at the irony.  Classic.

This is the Jeep with all seats laid down, full of nothing but trash to be thrown out...papers, broken toys, blah, blah, blah...

We took all loads of giveaway and trash IMMEDIATELY.  Not "later".  That felt so good.  I really do think the two of us enjoyed working together on this.  We made a great team and shared a unified focus and vision.  One day soon, this garage will be renovated into more livable space for our family, a Family Room.  We don't know when, or exactly how the financing will happen, but we know it will.  We need it.  And now we are about two bazillion steps closer to it being reality.

Are you ready?  I don't think you're ready.  Are you?  You sure??  Here it is...

Uh huh.  Yep.  That's the floor, my friends.

The pink and blue bins are toys, alongside a toy stable and Mister The Pooh.  In the back left corner, the alcove that was formerly being used for storage, I set up an arts and crafts area for the kids with all sorts of bins for supplies.  Ma Luffin' Mayun took my Christmas decorations and our memento boxes that had previously been stored there into the attic.  Prior to him doing so, there was nothing being stored in the attic.  Brilliant Beauty spent the better part of Monday in this new space for creativity and imagination.

This is the wall of furniture we need to decide on keeping or letting go of.  The bags/box piled there are clothes that have so generously been given to us for the kids that I need to sort through and assimilate into their wardrobes.  These clothes are such a blessing, but the sorting thereof is one of the banes of my mommydom.

On this wall is three pieces of furniture we will definitely be keeping, and the items we found going through everything that I need to sort and find places for in our home.  My goal is to empty ONE bag/box/container per day until it's done.  If I do this, that whole area will be completely cleaned out in under two weeks.  Not bad, totally do-able.

So, here's a couple of side-by-side, before-and-after comparisons...

Not too shabby.

God willing and if I have my say, never again will that kind of anarchy hide in our house.  It felt so good to get all that stuff out of here.  We didn't know what we had, and realized we didn't need most of it.  And the best thing is that now we can see what is to come in this space.  In so many ways, it can already be used right now before the first renovation happens.

Did I learn anything?  Oh, yeah.  Enough to fill another post or two.  Mostly, that "later" is certainly an enemy of a truly peaceful "now".  Things shouldn't be left lurking.

Winnow we did.  And, boy, that feels amazing.  Now on to bigger and better things...but not more stuff.


  1. Um, WOW! You guys worked hard, and the garage looks AMAZING! I'm totally stoked about BB's art center - what a blessing for her!

    Way to go, you mad Winnowing Woman you!

  2. Hey, what did you do with those armless rockers? I be needing one. I'll read your blog later, I just looked at the photos for now. I know that's tacky.

  3. Great job y'all! That is a lot of hard work. I love getting that type of stuff taken care of. I've been doing mini versions of this all over my house this past year but I have not been brave enough to take on the garage! Seriously, I'll buy one of those armless rockers from you once you decide about keeping them. Also, what is that wooden thing just standing there? Is it a drying rack? I could use that as well. Love you-E

  4. Those 'before' photos were starting to look like an episode of Hoarders on the Discovery Channel. Glad you are delivered from that affliction.

    ILU, Daddy


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