I have been in the cleaning, organizing and purging mode the last several months. We do not have a cluttered house or a packed attic, basement or garage (the garage is Dave’s sacred territory and it gets cleaned religously). We try not to stack stuff up or save too many things. We learned this lesson from my parents. After they died, me, Dave, my sister and brother-in-law had to clean out their house which they had lived in for 40 years, it wasn’t pretty. They lived in a tiny house, so it was amazing how much stuff they had in the attc, basement and garage. I don’t think they ever got rid of anything. Dave and I vowed right then and there we would never do this to our kids. Even though we made and kept that commitment, over time “stuff” does still accumulate. We have cleaned out and organized the kitchen and pantry closet, the foyer closets, laundry room closet, all of Hunter and Hayley’s toys and stuffed animals as well as every piece of furniture that has drawers. Dave and I went through our bedroom, all of our and the kids clothes, all our closets and all the bathroom cabinets. Craig’s bedroom and bathroom are on the 3rd floor. He is on his own. If I even venture up to his room (which is very infrequently), I tend to hyper-ventilate because of the mess, so I try to save myself from having to endure that. All this being said, brings us to the last few days. We have a finished basement and one of the rooms is my beautiful craft room. I used to love to do crafts, paint, scrapbook etc. When I was homeschooling the older kids we had so much fun in the craft room. We made things, painted shirts, painted gallery glass, decopaged and made figures called gloobies. You needed a glue gun to make gloobies and at the time I only let Katie and Kevin use the glue guns because Craig and Tracey were too young. On one of the days we were making them Kevin stuck the glue gun in his ear and screamed! I yelled what ARE you doing? Kevin crying said he was only trying to see if the glue gun was hot, now Katie thought this was hysterical and the more she laughed, the more he cried…..Anyway, every Christmas for years we all painted plastercraft christmas statues that were signed and dated by each and displayed them around the house at Christmas. These were such happy memories of the times I spent with the older kids, yet I feel a certain amount of melancholy because it seems like only yesterday these times took place and it makes you realize how fleeting time is. But over the past few days of cleaning I have so far thrown out 8 black garbage bags of things I have not used and will never use. Once I get over the nostalgia of things, I am able to part with stuff at a rapid rate. My mother had a wooden General Store that she had set up with miniature items, this was about 40 years ago when having dollhouses and furnishing with miniatures was the rage. After she and my dad died, I took it home and put it on the top shelf of my craft closet and have not paid any attention to it for many years. Dave asked where it was a few weeks ago and I told where. He suggested I get it down, clean up and fix up the inside, and maybe I should display it in Kevin’s old bedroom which has been redecorated with antiques and made into a guest room/writing room. I said I would think about it. Yesterday I did take it down and immediately the waterworks turned on. While looking at it I vividly remember driving to Lebanon to the Dollhouse Factory, which is still there, and my mother picking out different items to place in her general store. I was 10 at the time she started this and again, it seems like only yesterday. I have decided to fix it up and I will proudly display it upstairs. Yesterday I didn’t get as much cleaning done as I would have liked because I started looking at pictures. I have hundreds and hundreds of pictures in boxes. I enjoyed looking through them and remembering all the wonderful trips we took with the older kids, birthdays, holidays, beach, pool, Dave and I, etc. I got to a box of Hunter and Hayley when we brought them home from Guatemala through when they were toddlers. Through my tears I remember all of the plans, hopes and dreams we had for them. I loved looking at Hayley’s sweet face smiling at the camera. This was before Autism set in and took her smile away, her eye contact away and any words she had. We have come along way but we had to change our original plans, hopes and dreams for them and replace with new ones. I am sure as I go back and continue cleaning to-day I will find more things to bring back memories, both happy and bittersweet.