This weekend we finally found time to do something the girls have been begging us to do all summer ...we split them, and their stuff, up so they no longer have to share a bedroom. They've shared a room Brea's whole life. When we were house hunting they were okay with continuing to share a room for a bit after the move, but they both took house tours with an eye to what might eventually be their own rooms. After kicking Scott and I out of our first bedroom in this house last summer so that they could have a larger room with an A/C vent, the final switch has finally been made and I have 2 very happy girlies.
Besides the lack of an A/C vent in the small room that Lexi now occupies, the move required us to take apart and rebuild the bunk-beds which we had converted to 2 stand alone twins so they could each have their own half of the room after the move to the larger room upstairs. This summer's toasty weather was by no means encouraging for taking on such a task. With the remainder of our fall weekends filling up with activities of all kinds, I figured this weekend was our best shot at getting the move finished before November!
After we got the bulk of the furniture moved, the girls went to town sorting and organizing their stuff. Age appropriate libraries were created and stuffed animals were divided. A desk has been created by our brainy almost 11 year old, while our 6 year old foodie spend a good hour organizing her toy kitchen and play foods since we could move those items upstairs from our enclosed front porch that has been serving as the extra toys space for the past 2 years.
Throughout the day as we sorted and organized I got more and more annoyed at the amount of stuff we had to find room for in their new rooms. Knowing how much we off-loaded when we moved 2 years ago I wonder how we could have so much left, and where we put it all in our old house?! Between the Polly Pockets, the Littlest Petshops, the Barbies, the stuffed animals, the babies, the random dress-up jewelry, and the little bits of things the girls hoard, from treasure box toys from school to birthday party trinkets, I had had more than my fill of toy sorting by day's end Saturday. Seriously, HOW do the girls end up with SO MUCH STUFF?!?!?
Scott and I are trying our best to teach our girls to be smart consumers. At their current ages it's hard to figure out how to make it a lesson about making smart choices and not just a NO when they see a new toy/trinket/etc they might like. Trying to teach the girls about smart consumerism and the damage of unnecessary consumption (both on one's budget as well as the environment) is important to us because we ourselves have learned the hard way how difficult life can be when you DON'T make smart consumer choices. While yes, we were unfortunate to have been one of the families affected by the recent recession, we were not well prepared to weather that particular storm because of the financial hole we had dug ourselves into early in our lives together. It's not one of the strengths of our relationship and something we may be struggling with for years to come, but we are working on making that part of our lives together stronger. Part of "working on it" is hopefully giving our girls the foundation they need to make better choices later on in their lives.
I decided that writing this post in my super annoyed state on Saturday night PROBABLY wasn't the best way to share my thoughts, so I let it simmer through the rest of the weekend. What it all boils down to is this: When I think back on my childhood I can think of only 1 or 2 THINGS that have left an impression through the years. What I remember the most are the EXPERIENCES my childhood offered. I can name almost every pet we ever owned, including many of the random barn cats that just hung around on the farm. I remember the morning my parents sent me out to the barn on a random errand (I think it was a, "go feed the cats" kinda errand) knowing that when I got there I would find our mare and her new foal that had been born through the night. I remember picking and eating fresh peas in the garden thanks to the fact my Mom knew they were my favorite and planted a little row just for me to enjoy while we worked. I remember well the long HOT car trip we took to Memphis to visit my uncle and his family. I thought it was SO COOL that he had REAL pool in his backyard and how eye opening it was to walk the ped-mall in downtown Memphis as a little white girl who had lived in the Midwest her whole life. That was one of the 2 big vacations that I remember taking with my family, the other being to the Black Hills in South Dakota, because we simply couldn't afford to travel much. I will always cherish the time I was able to spend with my grandparents growing up. On of my favorite memories of my Grandpa and Grandma Reitz will always be the evening I spent interviewing them for a school project about what it was like to live during WWII. Their words often echo in my memory when I think of them. I will never, NEVER forget the day I went flying with a HS friend's Dad who served in the Air Force and flew a small acrobatic plane in air shows in his free time, or the sorrow I felt when 2 weeks later he died in a plane crash at one of those shows.
Even now as an adult it's the experiences life has given me I treasure most. A work trip to D.C. and an unplanned layover in Cincinnati that resulted in sharing some pizza and conversation well into the night with other passengers caught by the same missed flight. The amazing gift that is pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood. A night spend dancing in the rain as lightning lit up the sky like nature's disco ball. The generosity of friends and neighbors when we have found ourselves struggling to stay afloat. A night spent talking to a good friend over a bottle of wine until the sunny rays of morning peeked over the horizon. So many good memories spend with people who will always hold a piece of my heart.
It's those type of experiences I hope are what define the girls' childhoods when they look back on them from adulthood, not a collection of things. I wish we could afford to help them make a few more of those types of memories. Scott and I dream of taking the girls to Washington D.C. to share with them the treasures held there before they are too cool to travel with Mom and Dad and enjoy it. I would love to take them camping/hiking in the mountains or to play on the sandy beaches of the ocean...something I still have not done at 37. I'm thankful for the gift of time we have all gotten to spend with my Great Grandma and I hope the girls remember that special gift in the years to come.
We are fortunate that our girls have many, many people who hold them close to their hearts. I am so thankful for that fact. Odds are if you are reading this blog post you are one of those people. If so, please consider this post the next time you would like to gift our girls with something. Give them your time. Share with them your memories. Help us give them experiences and memories which they can carry with them in a space no bigger than their hearts as long as it shall beat. They will forever be touched by your generosity, and I will be forever thankful that I won't need to go buy more plastic totes in which to organize and store your gift. In the end they will never miss having more stuff because their hearts and their minds will be full of wonder, joy, and love...gifts of life which you can never, ever have too much!