Saturday, July 12, 2014

Good-bye, sweet home.

Good-bye, and thank you.  And I daresay that my heartbreak means that "I love you" is not too strong, even to be used towards a old gray structure that most wouldn't even look at twice.

How blessed are we to have had something that makes saying goodbye so hard.

I'll write more as we have more time and my emotions stabilize a bit.  (It's hard to see the computer screen through tears; Anna just looked at the picture and said "Anna's!"  And now she's saying "more house.  Anna's.  'at one.  (gesturing around hotel room): "da done").  I can't make up how much our home has meant to all of us.

For now, if you're driving in Western NY or Western Pennsylvania and see this get-up, give us a wave, and take note to always get a bigger u-haul than you think ;)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

On moving, materialism, and minimalism

Packing and packing and packing continues as our move date inches closer and closer.  My outlook on the whole moving thing varies from day to day (and often from minute to minute), admittedly influenced fairly heavily by how much I've eaten and slept in the last 24 hours, but also by the enormity of the task and the gravity of the change.

Yesterday I was almost in tears as I undid all that I've worked for four years to do.  For the past few weeks, my chore has been the direct opposite of what I consider my life's vocation (creating a home).  I wake up each morning and set about the tasks of dismantling the functionality and the beauty that has made this our comfortable dwelling.  I pack away kitchen supplies, making it more and more difficult to make a complete meal for my family (a week of take-out is fast approaching); I try to explain to my poor confused little girl that all of her toys will move to her new house; I take down all the things that make this our little haven in the world - the pictures that make us happy, the art that reminds us of what is good and true, the Crucifix that reminds us of what life and love is all about.

Emptying my glass canisters was one of my least favorite tasks, both because washing all those jars was annoying, but also because it was one of my favorite things in the house.

Perhaps for me, the prospect of most things being boxed for the next 10 months makes the packing more difficult.  Practically speaking, it requires more thought and logistics, but it also makes me more sentimental as I put away beloved objects and wonder when I'll see them again.  Where will I be?  What will have happened in our lives before we even see these things again.  (Dramatic, I know, but my inner monologue has a tendency to lean that way in stressful moments).

But then there's another side of all this packing, the freedom of having the bare minimum on the shelves.  It's sort of nice to have 2 drinking glasses to choose from, or to be limited in the dinner making department by the only baking dish that hasn't yet been put in a box.  When I find myself labeling boxes "extra towels," I have to wonder how and why we even have so many extra towels.  We're certainly making do just fine with the 3 that are still out and hanging on our racks.  And, ahh, the feeling of opening a closet to find....empty space.

I guess there's a minimalist hiding inside - one who ramps up the guilt when I label a mid-size box "Emily - bags and scarves."  Seriously?  I have more accessories than some people have clothing.  I've always tried to live the adage "Keep nothing in your home you do not consider to be beautiful or useful," but physically touching and moving every single one of our family's possessions really calls out how (not) effective I've been at paring down to what we need and love.  I've given myself permission to pass on decision making now, but I suspect there will be plenty of things headed to the nearest donation bin when I unpack in 10 months and find things I didn't remember ever having owned.  And even then, I'm sure our new home will have things we don't truly need or maybe even want, but with which our sentimentality will not let us part.

Not quite the den I showed you last week, huh?

And so box after box, I wonder if I'm materialistic and unable to part with my possessions, even for a short few months, or if I'm really a minimalist who should donate it all, save one pot and one dress.  I'm probably both.  With different items, my emotions carry me to different directions - I've packed a few boxes and realized afterwards that I really wouldn't be that upset if the whole box never made it to Steubenville, and then I've packed others and seriously considering adding "no seriously, be really, really careful because my 2 favorite yellow glasses are in this box" next to the 5 fragile stickers, which are probably already overkill.

Somewhere in the midst of all this is the healthy response to possessions.  The practical use of our resources that appreciates the gifts we've been given - those things that contribute functionality, form, and beauty to our homes.  A reasonable number of belongings helps us to set the stage for a relaxing and comfortable home, a place that provides respite for its family and welcome to its visitors.  When viewed properly, our things can be tools, things used for all sorts of practical tasks, but also for the very important goal of making our family home a "domestic church".  

I read an excellent post this morning in which Colleen compared owners of ultra-tiny homes and enormous mansions, and how going to either extreme can be a misguided search for the happiness that can never come from possessions (or lack thereof).  She describes so well what  "gives us the ability to both possess and be detached from our wealth."

Perhaps through this crazy year of transition as we go from our home to another home (house-sitting) to our future home (with perhaps a rental in between, who knows) I'll be better at that balance, of having the things we need and use, but keeping them in perspective.  Maybe I'll always be refereeing the inner monologue between my materialistic and minimalist alter egos, ever striving for the healthy approach that gratefully uses belongings to serve my family and others without letting the things I own own me.

What do you think?  Am I the only one who thinks this much about packing?  (It's possible :P)  And thanks to all of you who are following along with my roller coaster of posts!  I've found that writing has been a therapeutic coping mechanism for dealing with change.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Within these walls...

I've been posting a lot of pictures of the house itself, but today I realized that there is so much more to remember than the projects, the walls, the furnishings, and the colors.  There has been so much within these walls.  Against an evolving background of paint and renovation, there has been so much laughter, joy, friendship, and love.

It was sentimental to look through all my folders of pictures for this post, but it also shook me a bit from the sadness of leaving our house, because "home" will be wherever we're together, and God-willing we'll have new walls to fill with years worth of memories.

From celebrations and parties to daily quiet moments and so many firsts for our family, here's a tribute to all that's been within these (ever-changing) walls: