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Putting My Things in Boxes

I’m looking around my house and see the litter of a lifetime of collecting strewn about the tables, chairs and any other level surface. I have KEEP boxes, STORE boxes, SWAP MEET boxes, OFFICE SUPPLIES boxes and am now starting a box for each of the kids. I was crying yesterday about all these keepsake books I have, what could I do with them? We have a new midwifery school here, Nizhoni, and they said they would take whatever I could donate to them, so most of those keepsake books will go there. A signed copy of Spiritual Midwifery, several issues of Our Bodies, Ourselves, an extremely rare (and impossible to find) copy of You Can Breastfeed Your Baby –even under special circumstances, classic Dr. Spock’s from the late 1950’s and an original Thank You, Dr. Lamaze (the book that transformed birth towards natural birth); Books that deserve to be used, not hoarded.


One book in particular, (Having a Baby) I was telling Sarah about and tears just streamed down my face. I didn’t know that was going to happen! I’d read that book until the pages were tattered when I was pregnant with Tristan. I have books like that for each of the kids. Giving those up was so painful. Blessedly, my love told me to write notes in the books and give them to the kids. Wonderful!


You see, in order to let go of most of our things, I got into the mindset that the next people to see our stored boxes would be the kids after we’re gone. I can’t see Sarah and me ever having a house again. While it is going to be sad to leave our home that we’ve been in for ten years, we are looking at living in an RV as a giant adventure! We’ll be able to travel when and where we want, with our bed and our dogs. (Yes, we’re officially old women who treat their dogs like kids.) With this storage mindset, it is much easier to let go of some things... the starfish I got to remind myself that change happens one person at a time, my hourglass I bought to remind me to stay in the moment and many of my little chatchkes that brought me a smile, but would make my kids say, “Huh? Why did she have this?” and toss it aside. It’s better if I put things where they should go... even if where they should go is the Swap Meet.


I have hundreds of cd’s. I do not have an iPod anymore, so when I want to listen to something, I go back into the 90’s and pop it into the cd player. Amusingly, we even have loads of cassette tapes. Sarah says these things are perfect Swap Meet material so to put whatever music I want to keep on my computer, back it up and then we can sell them all. I also am keeping the videotapes of the kids when they were little, including the KidPrint ones that we paranoidingly made in case our kids were ever kidnapped. (Remember those?) Someday, I need to get them put on dvd’s or whatever you store things like that on nowadays.


I had Sarah get out more tape today, tape to close boxes with. I wince seeing all the rolls, knowing they will all be used to close up the things in my midst, vanishing, albeit lovingly, but my familiar surroundings are slowly being put away for someone else to unwrap.


I have a giant plastic box (3 feet by 2 feet) filled with photos, most of them of the kids and Disney World. I can’t even get to it yet, but ALL of those need to be scanned and stored on my computer (thank goodness for the huge HD!). I am almost immobilized by all that needs to be done.


I have the medicine closet to go through. What do I do with the things I don’t need now, but need if I get sick, get cut, get an infection? Do I throw out half-used bottles of shampoo? Alcohol? Nail polish remover? Where do these things go? It seems so wasteful to just toss all of this, but who wants the ¾ gone bottle of Benadryl?


And then my clothes. I know the rule... toss what you haven’t worn in a year. But I have clothes I didn’t fit in this last year that I will fit in this coming year. (Everyone says that, I know, but I am going to have a revision of my gastric bypass, so I know it is true for me.) Where do I put those clothes? In storage in the front so I can get to them? Keep them in the RV down below so it’s easy to get to them when I need them? I have to save room on the RV for my midwifery supplies.


That back room... where all the midwifery and medical supplies are kept, have been kept since Ama Mama closed. My goodness, I am just baffled about what to do with so much of that stuff. Donate it to Nizhoni so they can divvy it out to students who can’t afford some of these supplies? (Probably what I am going to end up doing.)


Questions, questions. I need to stop writing and get working on these boxes that are sitting, staring at me with gaping flaps that beg to be bound with tape, their mouths full of yummy memories and delicious mementos.

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Reader Comments (5)

We've been through something similar in the past few months. We moved from PIttsburgh to Texas for the summer to stay with family for a few months. We are leaving in 3 weeks for England and wil be there for the next 4 years. We sold most of our stuff and what we did keep we divided between our parents houses or are taking with us.

I had a lot of those same questions and it did feel overwhelming at times. I had to take it one box at a time and ask friends for help.

Now that we are past the most difficult part of deciding what to do with all our stuff I'm really looking forward to what is next.

I'm sorry you are going through such a hard time--It is nice to see you back in the blogosphere.

August 24, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteramelia

As far as the shampoo bottles go, decrease their number by combining them. Make a new scent, like jasmine-mango-green tea-vanilla. Donate them to shelters if the smell doesn't appeal to you. Or use the shampoo to wash other things, like woolen socks and sweaters, or other natural fibers. Or your pets.

Shampoo also makes a gentle body wash/baby wash/hand soap.

August 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnnapolitan

Sounds like a daunting task! Just a couple suggestions:

Are your home movies on VHS tapes? I don't know if people realize that those slowly degrade, whether they are played or not. They have a shelf life of about 10 years - if properly stored. If yours are that old or older, I highly recommend you transfer them to digital format ASAP! You can do this yourself if you have a digital camcorder and a high quality VCR (one with s-wire to improve picture quality. You are going to want want to use the white and red cables, but drop the yellow and use s-wire instead to get a better picture). If you don't have this equipment, search locally to find a place that transfers to DVD. They may also offer the option of transferring to digital tape, such as mini-dv, which will be higher resolution then DVD. I would personally go for both, but DVD is sufficient as long as you make multiple copies.

As for the box of photos, I recently used the services of scan cafe: http://www.scancafe.com/ This is the cheapest online scanning place, however, they are that way because they send their media to India to be scanned. I had no troubles with them, and the results were better then what I could accomplish with my home scanner. The resolution of the photos are quite large, like a digital file. The only thing is that they wont do nudity, so I had to do a little negotiating to get my naked baby and breastfeeding pictures scanned, but a manager said she would personally scan my photos, and she did so with no issues. I had negatives done, but you can have actual photos done as well. You can throw out up to 50% of them before ordering, so all those blurry or mistake photos you don't have to pay for. Scanning photos is just no fun at all, and then there is cropping and color correcting and sorting, etc. It is an expense, but it seemed worth it to me to be able to use these photos, and to save the hours and hours and hours it would have taken me to scan them. You get all the photos on DVD when they are done, and they can easily be copied, shared, and printed that way. Then you can make really cool photo albums at http://www.blurb.com/ - that is my next step!

Hope that helps, and doesn't stress you out further.

August 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Z.

Good luck to both you and Sarah. I hope that you have a fantastic time being an old lady with your dogs RVing. I have absolutely nothing of relevance to say about you having to decide what to keep and what to give away.
Good luck also with the bypass revision. I read your advice for a long time until you no longer posted on the yahoo group for weight loss surgery. I think you were the only person I actually trusted.
If you pass through southern Alabama, you have with us a place to park the RV and share a meal.


September 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLori Collins

I tried giving bottles of shampoo and stuff to a woman's shelter, but they were a scent-free facility. You could leave them in a locker room at a community pool, maybe with a 'free' sign. Or, really, use Freecycle. So many people would LOVE a 3/4 bottle of Benidryl or whatever. If you save $5 on cold medicine, you can feed your kids for a few more days.

September 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTracyKM

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