January 11, 2013

tale of a wee hoarder.

I love to throw things away.

It gives me such a thrill.

Lately I have been scouring every nook and cranny of my house, looking for anything worthy of the dumpster.

We ended up having a pretty big garage sale last weekend. We had tons of clothes/toys/decorations in the attic that were taking up too much space.

Seeing the enormous bags of 'stuff' we had accumulated made me feel a bit ill, truth be told.

I was more than happy to see our stuff go.

John is such a profesh, hanging all the clothes. Garage sales are HARD work I tell ya.

And as much as this mama enjoys throwing things away, I'm afraid I can't say the same for my Ollie.

He has trouble throwing away just about everything. Little paper crafts from school and church are accumulating routinely on his bed. He truly values them, which is sweet, I suppose. Everything is sacred to my dear boy. Not to mention legos and kitties galore.

John and I have both tried to rationally sit with him on his bed and logically get rid of things.

"Ollie, pick a few things that are your favorite and we must get rid of the rest. You have nowhere to sleep!"

And this was met by a quivering lip, followed by tears of stress and agitation. It was a bit nerve wracking for all parties involved.

I was on a phone appointment with Dr. Cohen our "hippie" dr. from Santa Cruz the other day. (She works with Ollie on his spd issues and such).

"How is Ollie?", she asked.

"He's great!" I said truthfully. "Which is a first. Seriously. He has been SO pleasant for the last few months. Playing so nicely with his brothers and neighbors. Doing well in preschool and speech. He is actually easier than his brothers! Can you imagine that? But there is just this one little thing..." I said.

"He's become quite the little hoarder. And if that's the worst of my problems, I'm thrilled. But still. I don't know what to do. HELP!"

Dr. Cohen kinda chuckled and said "Let him keep three things on his bed".

I almost snorted into the phone. Just THREE THINGS? Ha. What a joke. But I was too ashamed to say so to Dr. Cohen...and we eventually hung up.

"Hm. Just 3 things" I thought to myself. "We have a lot of work to do."

While Ollie was at preschool on tuesday, I started going through all his boxes. There was at least one hundred little treasures stashed in all his boxes. I started putting things away and throwing things away in the trash outside. I felt so smug and sneaksy.

When I was done, I had narrowed it down to 21 items, most of which fit in his little box. Whew. Still have a way to go, but it was a start.

Then Ollie came home from school. When he went into his room, he got very nervous and started asking me where all his things were.

I calmly explained "You have too many things Ollie! You have nowhere to sleep! Mommy had to put some things away. But there, there", I consoled, "You still have 21 things. And Jesus wants you to be content with that".

And Ollie did that thing he does, which gets me every time. It's the worst.

He closed his eyes. And his lips were quivering. And he was trying SO hard not to cry. He was crushed. He can be such a mournful child.

"Where is my brown box?", he asked. And he started naming off various things that I had thrown in the trash.

Crud! I thought. This boy is too smart.

I decided that it was too sneaky of me to throw away his treasures without telling him. So I dug just a few things out of the trash and gave it back to him, as a token of good will.

This little boy is so sensitive.

Seriously, he knew almost every thing I had dumped.

So we don't quite have a handle on this hoarding thing yet, but I am going to keep trying and trying and trying until he is cured of it.

And it's a reminder to me
store me treasures in heaven rather than earth(Matthew 6:19-20).

by loving Jesus and His word in the Bible above all
by loving people and sharing the good news of Jesus with them
by helping people who are in need.

So tough. I fail so often.

While reading Anne(of the Island) I read a passage that really hit me.

Anne was talking to her silly frivolous boy-crazy friend, Ruby Gillis, who was (tragically)dying of consumption. Ruby was afraid to go to heaven because she thought it would be so different than her life she built here on earth, revolving around pretty dresses and such.

Anne reflects upon this grave situation:

"The little things in life, sweet and excellent in their place, must not be the things lived for; the highest must be sought and followed; the life of heaven must be begun here on earth."
--Lucy Maud Montgomery of Anne of the Island

Um, wow. Yes. So inspiring. 

Yesterday, Ollie walked in the door from preschool holding 2 crafts. I only let him keep one item.

The other went in the trash.

And we took a picture of the remaining craft and I told him "you can keep if for 2 days and then it's time to say goodbye". Am I a genius? We shall see.

There were no tears, Hallelujah.

I feel so lucky to have this amazing boy, with all his quirks therein. It's a gift.
One thing is for certain. There is never a dull moment with Ollie around.

If you ever have a kid that has a disorder, then thank the good Lord for that precious gift.

Because this kid will forever change you. For the better. 


  1. You, dear lady, have some amazing perspective. Your sweet Ollie is a gem, and I really love hearing about your relationship, and how he is helping you grow and change. You two are pretty fantastic. xo

  2. My kids each have a junk drawer in their closet. They can keep whatever they want in there. Maybe once a month we go through and weed out the truly junky stuff, and more often than not, trash. I've found it's a good way to organize the little things that I don't mind them having (postcards especially) but don't have a place for.

    It's a very good reminder to not become too attached to earthly things. It's just stuff.

  3. Love your garage sale items! What a darling boy he is.. I love the way you explained it to him.. going to hold onto that for my kiddos someday! My throw away moods are pretty scary for my husband- The day I threw away our unity candle he will never let me forget...:)

  4. The pictures and crafts def pile up around here...except it is my hubs who is sentamental...hanging every little drawing the boys do on various doors in our house. I am a purger! My garage sale pile is growing this week and next. But something I have seen and am planning to do with the crafts/ drawings, etc. is take a picture and then compile a photo book of those pictures with the age/ name/ grade the boys are in when they made it. That way we "keep" them without them taking up much space.
    I feel you on the kitties...I feel like 101 Dalmations over here with all these random beanie baby puppies we have!

  5. I love this. My mom had a similar system to Liz's when I was a kid--we each had a "keeper box" and when it got full, we'd go through and clear out stuff that wasn't as special anymore to make room for new stuff. Taught us to prioritize and purge at the same time!

    Also, I followed that link to your wonderful post about Ollie's spd, and holy moly, I applaud you, your tenacity, your hope, and your love. Ollie is blessed to have a family with such an amazing mama! Hearing his success stories are absolutely thrilling.

  6. I wish I could have come to that garage sale! holy moly! hehe! Ollie is so sweet. All your children are adorable. I bet they will grow up to be very respectable men. hehe!

  7. Great perspective! I too am treasuring my sensory girl!!

  8. My friend had a really good idea the other day as she was trying to figure out how to help her niece who is a major little hoarder (only 10 years old!!). She is going to take a picture of each item in her room, and make a little photo album of all the treasures. That way if her niece wants to look at one of them, she can just look at the picture. Saves a lot of space and helps her let go of some of those objects! (We will see if it works!!!)

    Good luck!

  9. Thanks for the perspective! Ollie is a cute and sweet boy and he's blessed to have such a wonderful mommy!

  10. Ollie, what a lovie. You're so very blessed to have each other.

  11. what??? you had a garage sale and didn't invite me?? i would have come and bought all your stuff :)

    i'm trying to become more of a minimalist in my home as well, i think for me, it means to regularly go through closets and drawers, and throw AWAY, or give away if possible, because that's where things stock pile up in this place!

    you're such a good momma. that look on ollie's face? ahhhh....how can you turn that down!

  12. love this post. I too love love love to throw things away and donate. seriously I am a total neat freak it is a sickness really.lol

    I usually just go through my kiddos things when they aren't around to avoid the drama.lol.yikes.

    job well done! nice thinking mama! hope the no tears stay that way :)

  13. We would get along well. Think that's why I like your blog so much. I'm the opposite of a hoarder in that I love to throw things away or sell or donate, a little too much. That's tough with your little guy, especially when you described how sad he was! It's hard to let things go and kids have a hard time understanding. Sounds like the picture thing is a good solution :)

  14. I'm not sure how I found your blog, but I love it! I love your relationship with your boys and how peaceful and yet real you are. I am a mom of 2, so I know its not really peaceful, but that's what I like.
    I am a early childhood mental health consultant (thats a real thing!). My advice, not that you asked.. I wouldn't throw things away without Ollie there to help, it may make the hoarding worse. Giving him a limit (of how many or how much space) and letting him try to do his best on his own or with your guidance. Helping him through the feelings of loss and not minimizing the struggles of letting go and emotional attachment to things/memories that we all have.
    Good luck.

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