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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Swimming through Christmas Clutter

Well my house looks like a Christmas bomb went off - toys, new clothes, gift boxes and bags, and suitcases of dirty clothes and miscellaneous stuff from the girls' stay at their grandparents' house during the days leading up to Christmas (like the balloon animals from their TGIFriday's kids-eat-free-on-Wednesdays dinner).

They call this pre-Christmas sleepover, "Gigi's Camp Christmas." Basically my parents (well, mostly my Mom) take the girls and do all sorts of fun holiday activities like making cookies and doing crafts because I am typically working a ton during the weeks leading up to Christmas. This year was a little different, though. I actually put my back out in November and have been "out of commission" lying flat on the couch for weeks. But Camp Christmas is now a tradition for the girls. So even though I was home, they still wanted to go to Gigi’s. Thankfully, this left me some time to do some last-minute shopping now that I was walking somewhat normally again.

The girls also still insist on sleeping over at my parents' house on Christmas Eve - something we used to do out of necessity when we lived in a tiny ranch-style home that left very little room for holiday celebrations. Plus, my parents (well, mostly my Mom) love having little kids at their home on Christmas morning. And I could never do what my Mom manages to accomplish to make Christmas a wonderful, relaxing day for all of us - a bacon & eggs breakfast, freshly-baked coffee cake followed by a full turkey "dinner" all by 2 in the afternoon.

So after 3 days of Camp Christmas for the girls, an overnight stay for me on Christmas Eve sleeping in a bed with my parents' affection-loving dog that wanted her belly rubbed at 2am, a surprising and violent stomach bug for my hubby that kept him home on Christmas Eve, 4 rounds of gift-opening at 3 different locations in a 24-hour period, and probably triple the normal intake of food, we were exhausted when we finally arrived home on Christmas night. In our post-holiday stupor, we managed to unload 2 vehicles worth of stuff, during frigid temperatures, into the "Dining Room." (I use that description loosely as we have never actually had dining room furniture in this room.) Yay us for not just leaving it all in the cars until the next day!

Considering for the last 4 weeks I’ve not been able to take care of the house due to my back issues, plus all the influx of Christmas stuff, I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed right about now. When my living or work environment is in a state of chaos, I can’t relax. At the same time, I feel paralyzed with everything that needs to be done. I’m a procrastinator by nature, but I realize that it’s time to tackle the clutter and start getting my house back.

I begin by doing the easiest things first: My oldest child’s new “real camping” sleeping bag - that will keep her warm even in freezing temperatures - can easily go up on the top shelf of her closet. Woohoo! That’s one thing out of the dining room. Then I think, maybe I should have gotten one of those sleeping bags for myself. In all likelihood, if she’s camping out in freezing temperatures, I’ll probably be with her.

Anyway, I create small piles of each person’s things that I periodically take upstairs before they get too heaping. Big piles of stuff overwhelm me. Small piles I can handle easier. Plus, I like getting the extra stair workout. Gradually I pick up steam as more and more items find a home.

Before I know it, I’m doing more complicated things like reading the instructions and cleaning the parts on my new George Foreman Grill to make hamburgers for dinner. By the way, it works great and everyone needs one to cook easy meals with very little clean up. (Make sure to get the model with removable grilling trays so you can just pop ‘em out to wash it. The other styles have an attached grilling surface and you have to practically juggle the appliance to get it clean without submerging the whole thing in water.)

My awesome husband tried to assemble the Zhu Zhu Pets Deluxe Skymall…and then had to pack it all back up again when he discovered the instructions stink and there is no way for this thing to actually go together like it shows on the box. Into the car and back to the store it will go. Bummer! It looked really cool. Maybe they can use their… CREATIVITY (gasp!)... to make a maze out of cut-up cardboard boxes like my brother & I did for my real hamsters when we were younger.

As I move from one vessel full of random stuff to the next, I keep hearing Dory’s voice from Nemo in my head. It's saying, “Just Keep Swimming. Just Keep Swimming...” She says this line in the movie when she and Nemo’s dad are on a long & frightening journey to find Nemo. So this has been my mantra since seeing that movie. If you just keep moving, eventually you’ll get to the end, no matter how daunting the task.

Well, I’ve procrastinated long enough by writing this blog post. Time to get back to clutter busting! “Just keep swimming…”

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