Tidying up


Before a woman has a baby, she is supposed to go through a nesting phase.  She wants to get her home ready before that bundle of joy that eventually becomes a thankless, self-absorbed teenager arrives.  She wants to be able to welcome her baby with a nest feathered with lots of cool “stuff”.

I can’t say I went through the nesting thing with either one of my kids, but I certainly was into acquiring stuff for my home.  For years and years.  And years.  And years. The downside of living in the same house (with a full basement) for most of my adult life.

But five major moves in the last twelve years forced me to get rid of a lot of the accumulated things.  Unfortunately, I think I replaced 70% of it over the past three years we’ve been in our present home.


But I think AGMA’s at the age now where it’s time to seriously think of “tidying” things up.  You know, get ready for the time when I’ll be sharing a room in a nursing home with somebody named Susan from Milwaukee with dementia who, along with me, can’t control her bladder function.  The time when I’ll have to fit all of my earthy possessions in a chest of drawers and a bedside table.

Okay – maybe I’m jumping the gun a bit.  And getting overly dramatic.  AGMA’s can get that way from time to time.

But you get the gist.  It’s time to start major decluttering and become a minimalist in terms of stuff.

Maybe we should consider buying one of those 300 square foot tiny houses that are all the rage now.  Or several of them.  One to live in and the rest to store all of our stuff. Or is that against the spirit of the tiny house movement?


As difficult as he was to get along with, I’m very thankful that my father down-sized from his large three bedroom with a full basement and large yard home to a two room apartment in a retirement community some eight years before he died in 2000 . Even so, I still felt overwhelmed going through his possessions from his small apartment and 8X8 storage space.

I shudder to think of what my kids would have to deal with if my husband and I went over the rainbow anytime soon.  It would literally take them years…  Or not.

I have sons. Those of you with only sons will understand.

So I’m thinking of starting to give stuff away.  I mentioned to my husband the idea of getting rid of the china and crystal we got as wedding gifts and have hardly used.  He was not thrilled with the idea.  Evidently he’s formed some sort of a mystic bond with it over the past 38 years.

I know my DIL would like some of my nicer serving pieces.  She’s told me so.  Guess she wants to stake her claim early.  But…

The whole specter of divorce really makes me hesitate in giving any of it to my DIL.   Not that I think their marriage is in danger at all right now, but you know how   turbulent the 40’s & 50‘s are on a marriage.

Good God, what would happen to my Evesham serving dishes then?

I read an article about the Baby Boomers trying to give their stuff to their kids and the kids not wanting it.  Most don’t have the space or the desire for their parents stuff. What their parents see as family heirlooms, they see as hand me down, out of date junk.

Obviously except for AGMA’s Evesham pieces.

What an aspiring minimalist Baby Boomer to do?

I know, I know – this is definitely a First World problem.

Actually, I think tiding up is not such a bad problem to have…  Other than it signals AGMA’s entry into the Winter season of life.  But then again, making it to this Winter season isn’t such a bad thing either.  I know too many people who didn’t make it past late Summer and Fall.  I’m very happy to plan my Winter.

Plus, we live in the age of Craigslist, Ebay and Facebook Garage Sale pages where one Boomer’s junk is another Millennial’s treasure.  I’ll find some suckers…eh…lucky individuals to take some of these potential Antiques Road Show gems off my hands.

So if anybody out there would be interested in a lifetime accumulation of AGMA stuff, before I offer it to the general public, just let me know.  I’ve got some great junk…eh…heirlooms at a really good price.  Plus I can offer a payment plan with flexible terms.

And for only $10 more per item, I will not only autograph each piece personally but will provide a certificate of AGMA authenticity.

To mis-quote Vito Corleone, “I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse.”

57 thoughts on “Tidying up

  1. Ahhh, not only didI have my crap, I also had lots of stuff from my mother-in-law, even though she has been gone almost 15 years now. She had lived in the same 6 bedroom house for 40 years (10 kids!), and as each bedroom emptied, it turned into another storage unit. It took me (yes, for some reason I had the lead in that adventure… I did mention there were 10 of her own kids) a full year to go through it all, figuring out what was worth keeping, what was worth selling, what was good enough to donate and what just needed to be tossed out. Unfortunately looking back, the worth keeping was a lot of wishful thinking – the stuff has stayed in boxes for 15 years…in my attic and basement. And as I look forward to downsizing myself in the not-so-distant future, I needed to deal with it. I became an “antique dealer” at the local antique mall, for all of 3 months, and put it all up for sale in a “booth”. Did I make a killing? No. But I didn’t need to deal with shipping or haggling or even any big monitoring – it is a fully staffed antique mall, with lots of retirees who love that kind of stuff. Just another thought for you, if your stuff is of the “antique variety”, which is pre-1970 these days (per the antique mall definition). Now onto all our crap, which is not of the antique variety, but fills every closet and shelf in the basement, attic and garage. And yes, my husband also has amazing bonds with much of that stuff. When you figure out your (real) plan including the male un-bonding, please share!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow! That’s a serious saga of “stuff”!! I’m dying to know (maybe not the best term to use…) why you were the chosen one to go through your MIL’s stuff when she had 10 kids of her own. I bet you could write a volume on that! I love your antique mall solution! And since when is pre-1970 antique?? Now I feel really old… Not sure about the un-bonding thing. Still trying to figure out how it happened in the first place!


    • I can do that deal!!

      Back in the day, we used to have garage sales to get rid of the kids clothes and old toys and other random stuff. Toward the end of the sale, my husband (the man bonded to our china!) would off a three-fer… If you bought one thing, he’d give you two others for free! Good times…


  2. I just be happy if my kids would come by and pick up all the boxes they have stored in my shed. First, I’ll make them take their on stuff before I start trying to get them to take my stuff. Maybe, I’ll just die with all of it and let them deal with it. Teach them to leave boxes at my house…

    Liked by 6 people

    • I totally empathize!! I have boxes for both sons but am now not sure which box belongs to which son and they don’t come to my place very often so I guess I’ll wait until I die and let the oldest son, executor of the will, decide. Revenge!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed!! Now that both my kids have homes of their own, I have been trying to get them to take their stuff for years. One lives in Chicago so it’s kind of hard since we only fly back and forth, but the other one lives here in town. Maybe I’ll make that my project – get him to take all his crap by the end of the year!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I grew up with a hoarder…not the type you see on TV, I mean the one who thinks that – she might have use of it “one day”. I am now the complete opposite. We are very generous with St Vinnie’s and don’t keep things that aren’t going to be used. I have 2 sons and I know they won’t be sentimental about keeping stuff. I sometimes wonder if that’s my fault…or just a genetic predisposition? Great post, thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks! It really seemed to resonate with a lot of folks!

      I’m afraid I have a bit of that “I’ll use it someday”, but not as bad as I used to be. Actually like only about 5% as bad as I used to be. I finally realized that I probably won’t EVER use it!

      And I think it’s genetic with sons. It’s the testosterone… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. We must be traveling down the same “omg, how did I take a wrong turn and land here” road — except I’m a few years older and farther down the route. I decided, further complicating a lifetime collection of stuff, to become a gypsy and try on new landscapes post retirement; I’ve been accused of changing homes like some women change shoes. And, in addition to stuff and inherited treasures, mom left me boxes and boxes of her genealogy work and photos (as in, if one copy is good, twenty are better).

    In all seriousness, after watching my kids struggle after their inlaws’ deaths, I didn’t want to add my stuff to that struggle (although sometimes it was tempting…) So, I made a list — not exactly a Bucket List, but a Check Before Kicking the Bucket List. It took about a year to complete (on and off; this is a bittersweet process) and I’ve never looked back or had a regret.

    Went on line, completed Mom’s ancestry work and put the stories and the pictures and the pictures of the treasures into a book, made hardback copies for each kid and grandkid (thank you, Blurb.com). Check! And then shredded it all. Next step, took photos of the treasures I didn’t want to keep, and texted to the kids with a 24 hr deadline to claim (this also worked for their stuff). They didn’t want much. Finally, went through the kids’ photos and slides from growing up. Shredded about 80% and put the rest into albums for them. Happy Birthday to them and Check, check!

    Last step, as I’ve picked the brains of the wonderful movers who have moved me 10 times in the last 10 years, there are 3 stacks: Give away, Throw Away (or recycle), Keep. Do it quickly, and once you decide, no changing your mind (besides if you later need something, Ebay is a click away). One room at a time and it works like a charm. Check, check, check. RE: husbands and un-bonding, I have an ex so that problem is no longer. But, back in the day of being married to a packrat, I simply put the boxes of his dead stuff on the back porch and then slowly pushed them out into the elements. The rain took care of the rest…

    I told my kids that this is my gift to them.

    I’m spending the rest…

    Just Carla over at Justmecoloringoutsidethelines.com

    Liked by 5 people

    • Oh Carla… You’re brilliant! But reading about everything you did was exhausting. That was a freakin’ load of work! You were a woman with a plan and you executed it to perfection! Life is too hectic right now, but I might use your saga as my pre-mortem blueprint!

      So what new landscapes have you traveled to?

      You are my new hero!


      • Whoa! A marathon??? Hero Status returned!!! Forget about the to do list before kicking the bucket; I’m in awe!! Moi and Landscapes? There have been a few..I’m just posted about my time time in a windswept Sea Cottage perched at the edge of a bluff. Sounds romantic, doesn’t it? uh huh….

        Liked by 1 person

    • Just read it and loved it!! So I’m guessing that soon you’ll get it all down to where you can actually live in that van down by the river? Or a tiny house with tall ceilings!

      And I get the thing about the books, music and pictures. So hard to part with. My dad and step-mother had so many books once upon a time, but by the time he passed, it was down to a shelf full. And my step-mother had this wonderful jewelry chest of 1940s, 1950s and 1960’s costume jewelry, but again, when she died, there were only a few piece left and no chest anymore (I treasure those pieces to this day) They didn’t ask us if we wanted any of these things and the tons of other stuff that filled their large home before they downsized. It’s probably a good thing or we’d have LOTS more stuff!

      Good luck with your MIL’s house! Might be different since it isn’t your stuff maybe?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have to be sensitive to my husband and his siblings in MIL’s house. If it were up to me, I’d hire that dumpster and just go to town !! My stepmother offered us things from my dad’s home after he passed. She kept it in tact for about 5 years, then left town. I only wanted some photos and a few odd pieces, like my grandmother’s steamer trunk from Europe. I am itching to scale down our own “junk” now. Husband is pushing back a bit. I’m waiting him out. ☺ Thanks for the read and comment.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I get this. In fact I’ve been blogging a bit about our efforts to down-size. Didn’t want our kids to have to deal with all our accumulated “wealth,” so we did it and got rid of a TON of stuff. Maybe half. Still have plenty. Two daughters who don’t want it. And NOBODY wants cut glass compotes anymore. NOBODY. We close on a smaller (not tiny), more suitable house this week.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Congrats Lori!! When our youngest son went off to college, we sold our house and bought a much larger one. Now how stupid was that? Only stayed there a few years and, thankfully, didn’t really accumulate more. It was that the stuff that we had just was able to spread out a bit.

      And what’s up with the cut glass compotes?? Some day those will be hot again and those daughters will regret it…

      Again, congrats on the new house! This last move we DID downsize, but not nearly enough. Not having a basement helps though!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I wish the tiny house movement had come at the time my kids were becoming teenagers. I could have bought a separate house for each of them, and everyone would have been so much happier.

    As for the “stuff”, I just went through my own tidying up phase when we had to have the house renovated after the ice damage. It was amazing how much stuff we really didn’t need or have any use for. I do, however, still have the “good” china and silverware (stainless steel) – it’s never brought out, even on holidays, but hey, someday I may have a dining room and lots of guests to join me. Provided, however, my kids give up their commitments to their own, newer families.

    Liked by 5 people

    • I make an effort to use the good dishes and silverware 2 times a year with dinner for my nieces & nephews (I have no kids). I am not sure they appreciate it now, but maybe in the future, they will. I think back to some wonderful times I spent with a childless aunt & uncle – fond memories. And yeah, sometimes it gets hard as they go off to college. But a few are now bringing their potential partners. It is the only time I use that good stuff! Why can’t I even bring it out for a nice dinner for 2? Who knows!

      Liked by 2 people

      • They will appreciate it Pat! My nieces are in their 40’s and are now, finally starting to appreciate that kind of stuff. My kids – not so much but they are still in their early 30’s. And they are males. Different animals… 🙂


    • LOL about getting each kid a tiny house! It could have solved many conflicts at our house.

      I really think I’m ready to get rid of the china and crystal. My “silver” is also stainless and doesn’t take up too much space right? 🙂 However, I have my step-mothers real silverware that has NEVER been used by me and sits in a bedroom closet shelf. I can’t seem to wrap my head around getting rid of that. I’m sure a good psychologist could help me with that…


      • Get rid of the stainless and start using your mother’s real silver. I hope that doesn’t sound callous, but I’ve been seriously considering pulling out the wedding china that’s been sitting in the cupboard for 34 years and using it for every day. Heck, I picked it out and paid for it, I should be able to use it before I die.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve been through this with my parents when they passed, and I’m about to go through this with my own home because I’m moving to a much smaller place. Two words of advice: estate sale. Hire a professional estate sale company (look on estatesales.net for a company near you) and tell the same to your children. A professional handles ALL the work of liquidating your years of accumulates treasure and trash, helps you empty the house and then sends you a check. Easy as that. All you and your family have to do is remove the things you want. It’s a much better idea than trying to tackle the job yourself and, IMHO, much better than donating it or tossing it out. I cringe when I hear about people throwing good stuff away or donating it to charities that make too much profit with doing nearly as much good as they should (not naming names, because what Good Will it do?). At least talk to a few companies or read up on it! You don’t have to have an “estate” to have an estate sale.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Great idea! I like being able to press the EASY button and have it all just happen!

      But it would take some work to figure out what I wanted – ah, there’s the rub. It’s making that decision that I dread. Maybe when I get down to it, I’ll just be sick of it all and want to start over with new “stuff”!


  8. As long as I constantly moved, this was easy. Whatever hasn’t been in my hands and actually use (save for my books) from one move to the next, had to go. Settling down with a hoarder makes it hard. Four years in and the basement is full to the brim (sigh).

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think I’ve discovered the key to that dilemma… No basement! Three years into our townhouse with no basement and I’m pretty sure I haven’t collected nearly as much as I would have if we had a place to “stash” stuff out of sight! And since I’m the hoarder in the family at time it’s painful but okay!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Years before my maternal Grandmother died she had all 8 of her living children go through her things and stake their claim by using a piece of masking tape with their name on it. Anything not claimed could be taken at a later date, given to charity, sold, etc. Her hubby had died some 20+ years before so he didn’t get a say but this certainly helped afterward with the feuding or lack of.
    Just a thought 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. My grandmother had a one bedroom apartment in a senior living community and OMG the stuff she managed to pack away. I know most of it had sentimental value to it more than anything.

    So when I divorced in my 40’s, I told my STBX (acronym for so-to-be-ex) to take anything he needed to start a new life. So he took the entire living room. Good because it was worn out. And half of all those things like wedding china, patio furniture. That made it easier for me to have a yard sale and clear out the rest of what I didn’t want or need.

    Six years later, feeling the need to purge again.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Same thing with my dad! He live in a small space but he managed to pack it full! And the storage space he had in the building’s basement. It really was overwhelming.

      I think I’m ready to purge, but it’s just finding the time and energy. It exhausts me just thinking about it! I guess I might have to try a 5 hour energy drink!


  11. I already “cleaned house” after my husband died. Hundreds of books, laser discs, Beta tapes, Vhs tapes, tax info from 20 years ago, his college notes, and then the clothes he ordered but never wore! Then there were boxes of model trains never even taken out of the boxes!! I started 5 years ago after his death, cleaning out things. Then when I decided to downsize I realized how many things there were still in the 2 car garage that I had never used because there was no room until I made room!
    Now I live in a two bedroom, condo with a screened in porch. I am content and happy with much less. I still go through things when it is cold or hot outside but I have donated a lot of things to different charities. That also gives me a little tax break! China goes for dirt cheap now, so I donated it.
    I love my life now with my two cats and lots of friends. I made this condo mine!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bravo Joyful! You have been on quite a journey… I’m sorry about the loss of your husband, but glad that you have come out on the other side of your sadness with a life you love.

      We still have VHS tapes and music cassettes. And DVD’s and CD’s that we never play. And books we’ll never read again. It’s ridiculous! However, the one thing that we have is room in our 2 car garage for our 2 cars. I’m pretty proud of that! Ha!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I can so relate! Especially, when I open the paper every morning and most in the obituary column are my age and younger. Jeez! I mean, don’t think I want my kids cleaning out my bedside drawer! Gotta get on this! Thanks for a good Monday morning laugh.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. “Those of you with only sons will understand” – so funny! When I was pregnant with my 2nd one, I ran into a cousin (mother of 2 boys herself) and she asked if I’d learned the sex yet. I said, “Yep – boy.”. She said, “you know what that means, don’t you?” Of course we both knew what it meant – nursing homes in our future for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

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