Killing the Inner Pack-Rat: Step 6

In Which We Were Entirely Ready to Have God Remove All These Defects of Character 

Woo hoo! BEST. STEP. EVER! Ok, God. Ready.... Set.... GO!

Um....hellooooo? I said I'm ready and since I obviously have a flaw or two (thousand) why are they still here? What's that? You're less magic/David Copperfield and more hammer/chisel/Michaelangelo?


You had probably thought (perhaps you had hoped) I was done with the inner pack rat series.


Summer and then the start of school were fairly big set backs in terms of decluttering the clutter-bug (and blogging for that matter.) Something about 6 kids (remember the cousin?) and traveling and then school and um, still 5 kids and suddenly it's Halloween and OH MY GOSH WE ARE MOVING IN LESS THAN TWO MONTHS.....no stress....

At any rate, now that Mars is on the horizon, (and Venus has lined up with Jupiter to create a great sphere of magical bliss where light changes and birds fly south and go ahead and stop reading now before it is too late) it is essential to get out the trash bags and fill 'em on up. And instead of starting back at the very beginning of the process when I fell off the wagon a little, we are going to forge ahead, which actually addresses one of my very real character defects: not finishing what I start when what I start suddenly seems like more work than I had anticipated or is no longer very interesting.

Don't get me wrong. I am no stranger to working hard. I run marathons after all and that gets to be a lot like work. Except it costs money instead of making it, and there are no long term consequences on anyone but myself when I choose to sit one out.....so really, it is not like work at all but simply a really effort-filled and costly hobby.....

But I digress. While I can't claim to be a lazy person, per say, I will admit to having the occasional selective work ethic: work hard at the things I love to do and then slack on the stuff I really need to do but don't really care to do. Both things add value (i.e. running adds value by making me a calmer and healthier person; decluttering adds value by making our house a cozier and more functional environment) and yet only one of these is a top priority for me day in and day out. (Hint: it includes my running shoes, not boxes or rooms of junk.....)

So, today's step is asking God to remove our "defects of character" (had it been just general defects I would totally have gone with those things that were damaged by pregnancy but alas, that wasn't an option.)  My guess though, is that the answer to this request includes a lot of work on my part:

"Go and wash your face in the river Jordan and then spread the word of my name amongst all in bloggerland, with the potential of torture and possible death.....no pressure...." or something like that....

And so, without further adieu, I shall leave this land and go back to the very thing I am procrastinating from by writing this post....

Watch out Clutter (and anything else that happens to still be in the house)! Here I come!


More Short Stories


There are some coyotes who must live close to the school because we see them out playing in the mornings on the days we miss the bus. (We see them a lot.....)

Madeline: Ahhh, they are so cute. Can we have one as a pet?
Me: No, they are not domesticated animals and would be too wild.
Lily: Ahhhh, but I want a coyote!
Madeline: Ok, Lily. All you have to do is catch him and then train him. He might eat your hand off but after that it will be great.


Save your feelings of pride over the fact that your two year old took the initiative to mop the entire kitchen floor after breakfast until you make sure he didn't use milk to do the mopping.


Liam's new favorite song in three different versions:

Liam's version: "Weeeeee are the champions......there is not any room for any losers......" (Oh, so close!)

Solly's 1st version: "Weeeeee are the losers, weeeeee are the losers, weeeeee are the losers of the world." (Makes a mom proud doesn't it?)

Solly's 2nd version: "We are the champions and we are the losers because we don't have any batteries..." (Um.....your guess is as good as mine.)


One day during soccer practice as I was talking to my assistant coach, Lily ran up and asked, "Mom, can we go to the bar after practice?"

After a brief pause, I realized she was talking about the snack bar and clarified to the other coach that I didn't make it a habit to frequent "the bar" with my kids. Laughs all around.

Yesterday, Madeline walked through the room singing:

"But after...one round with Jose Cuervo, I caught my boots tapping 'long with the beat, and after, two rounds with Jose Cuervo...."

Well, apparently I do make a habit of singing country music too often.....


Madeline: Mom, when can we go to the Costume Store to get our Halloween Costumes???

Me: We aren't getting costumes this year. We need to save money for our move plus, costumes are like wedding dresses, they are overrated, you wear them once and then never again and is that really worth it?

Madeline: Ha ha ha.....wait, let me see your face.....oh, you aren't just kidding..... 


Boston Marathon: Six Months Later

I don't know why people have to die. And I especially don't know why they have to die in such ridiculous ways. I don't know why free will is so important to God that God doesn't do more smiting of evil doers before they can do so much harm. (Maybe that is why I am not God....that and the fact that if I were I would have a bumper sticker that read: Why yes, my son DOES walk on water....oh and it would probably be dangerous for God to have so many random hormone fluctuations.....and then there would be the problem of forgiveness: "Seriously? You want me to forgive you AGAIN? You've done the same dang thing like a dozen flipping times! Just be grateful I don't throw your a$$ in the Lion's Den!".... but I digress....) What I do know is that humankind has proven, time and again, to overcome evil with goodness and love. And that even after all the craziness in the world, after all the terror, the heartbreak, the shock, fear and pain, for the lucky ones, and that is most of us, life just kind of goes on. Sometimes with gusto.

In the days following the Boston bombing, so many people expressed to me how sorry they were that my first Boston experience was so traumatic. Honestly though, I don't see it that way. (I will admit the anxiety and heartburn issues were not so wonderful....especially since it has been six months now and I am still not fully recovered....I think I may have given myself an ulcer actually.....yay stupidity.)

In actuality, the entire experience put things back into perspective. I hadn't realized how far off I had gotten. Before the bombings, I felt remorse for my slightly slower time. I agonized over those three seconds per mile. Seriously. It is sick.

Afterwards I felt a tinge of guilt: How could I have been the least bit upset with my running performance when I walked away unscathed? How could I walk away with an inflated Boston-Qualifying ego when so many people were hurt, some now unable to walk without prosthetics? When people lost their children, their loved ones? It was a powerful and extreme reality check. One that forced me to ask, if I had been one of the unlucky ones, if those had been my last few days on earth, would I have left the legacy I want to leave? Do I even know what legacy I hope to leave behind?

It's a daunting question.

The day before we left for Boston I was expressing my worries to Liam's preschool teacher about whether or not I would get through the race. She texted me later to tell me she knew I could do it: "Just put one foot in front of the other like a gagillion times," she said, a phrase that became a mantra during the race itself. And life is kind of like that, too. How do we get through? We just have to put one foot in front of the other, like a gagillion times, until we cross the finish. But, that's not the entire story either because the question should never be can we finish (we all will, one way or another). The question is how will the world be better because we were in it? And along those lines, how will we respond to the details of the course? Who will we love? How will we live? How can we leave the world better than we found it?

Six months later, I am still searching for my own answers to those questions. As we prepare our family for our move, as we give away and sell and donate our belongings, as we choose what we will keep in our lives and what we will purge, Boston remains imbedded in my thoughts (probably because it wasn't too long ago that I registered for 2014.....you know, like I said I would NEVER do.....sheesh.....). And yet still, as I watch our large pieces of furniture and other big items leave our home to be loved by others, I find I get stuck on little details (like the picture frames I used to love but haven't had out for FIVE YEARS!) and it causes disproportionate angst. But in the midst of sorting out the details and weeding through the junk, attempting to keep my eye on the bigger picture, the questions are still loud and clear:

How can I help make the world a better place? How can I leave it better than I found it? And what can I do this very minute to set myself along that path? And then repeat those steps, like a gagillion times.....


Why We Don't Have a Baby Vole

Great question. Why don't we have a baby vole?

The short answer? Kurt.

There I was, running along, when Kurt called with important and pressing life decisions like whether or not to buy a really good but expensive tractor for our new farm home....(uh, yes....really not sure why he thought he had to ask me this question.) And since I was all, 'Yes, yes, yes, whatever you think best, how could we pass up such a great deal on a tractor, yes' and so on and so forth, I thought it would be the perfect time to turn around and ask my own really important question:

Me: Ok, so now that we have that decided, would it be okay if I brought home a baby vole?

Him: (slight pause) No. (He didn't say it very emphatically but I am certain I heard the tone going that direction.)

Me: Oh good, then I chose correctly and did the right thing by putting it back.

Of course, I said this while I was on my way back to find the cutest little baby vole I have ever seen. Granted, it is the only baby vole I have ever seen but it was darn cute.

Ok, let me back up. Solly and I were on a run around the lake when out popped the cutest darn baby vole ever seen! (Did I mention how cute it was?) Ok, so, it really didn't pop out of anywhere.....more like struggled to move across the path and I nearly squished it.

"Solly, dump out your Popchips and give me that bowl!" I said, coming to a screeching and swerving halt, almost giddy about what I almost ran over.

"No," he said, because apparently Kurt has already bribed him: ("Solly, if your mother ever asks you to give up your bowl so that she can bring home wild animals, just say no and I will give you a lollipop.")

After he finished his Popchips, he handed me the bowl anyway (so there Kurt! plbbbbbbb!) and I scooped up Baby Vo.

Ever seen a vole in a bowl? (I swear this has Dr. Seuss written all over it!) No? Well then, it's your lucky day!

And yes, Baby Vo is as soft as the ball of gray cotton it appears to be! After I pet it oh so gently, and then let Solly do the same (minus the gentle part), I had to make the toughest decision of the day: Take it or leave it. Argh!

I could hear the voice of reason in my head telling me how much the other kids would LOVE to see this little guy and that it was only fair and seriously, do you even WANT to be the coolest Mom around or are you just completely clueless because THIS IS YOUR ONE AND ONLY CHANCE?!?!

Oh wait, no, that wasn't reason.....that was the other one.

But, then I heard Kurt's voice, literally, telling me no, I shouldn't do that.

So, Solomon and I found the perfect little spot to let Baby Vo go and then, after a sweet goodbye (that included me saving the voles life yet again, this time from the hands of a two year old) off we went.....but half way around the lake, I had a sudden moment of doubt and we ran right back around to where we left the little guy and spent 20 minutes looking for him. (Yes, I do in fact have a teensy tiny time management problem.)

After finding him again, curled up on a leaf, snorting his little nose around in the ground, I managed to convince myself that I had made the right decision the first time and we should really let him go now before I talked myself out of leaving him there. He appeared to agree because as soon as we left his side he scooted his way under a big leaf as if to say, 'See? I'm hiding now. You can't find me so go away.'

Baby Voles are so cute when they play peek-a-boo.

And in case you ever run across a baby vole on your own and decide to make a different (BETTER) decision, here is a great chat board on baby vole care I found where you can learn how to care for them until they are old enough to survive on their own (unlike us, who just left it to die.....seriously, how do we live with ourselves! My rational side said, 'Take it, take it, help it grow up and teach it to survive in this cruel world' but no.....he's probably freezing his little vole haunches off as I type if he hasn't already been found and eaten......poor thing.....maybe we should go back for it tomorrow.....)

And that is why we don't have a baby vole.

But clearly, we should.

Baby Vo before hurrying off to hide.....and by hurrying I mean he was faster than a slug, maybe.....
(This post could have also been titled: Why I Don't Ever Finish My To-Do List)