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Buzz Lightyear

July 14, 2015

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I tried to get rid of Buzz Lightyear on Monday.

I couldn’t do it.

Buzz made it into the box of toys for Goodwill.  None of the kids had even looked at Buzz in the past several years.  He was vanquished to a bin on the bottom shelf and hung out in the dark with other forgotten toys for years.  When I was cleaning Isaac’s room, I came across Buzz.  I put him into the Goodwill stack.  I loaded said box into the car later that morning, drove to Goodwill, and deposited the box (with Buzz) in the massive donation bin.  I glanced back as I walked back to my car.  I couldn’t do it.  I turned around quickly, apologized to the Goodwill worker, snatched Buzz out of the donation bin, and returned him to the front seat of my car.DSC_2034

While it may sound otherwise, this isn’t a story about how I prevented Toy Story 3 from happening in my house.

This spring, our Sunday School class, studied Jen Hatmaker’s 7: An Experimental Excess against Mutiny.  You need to know this about our Sunday School class, we don’t read books.  Most of our series involve a video and study guide.  If there is outside reading, we skip it.  It’s just how we roll.  We worked through her videos and her study guide questions, discussing the seven areas of her life she fasted from for a month each.  We compacted the study from 9 Sundays into 7, and then the study was over.

Expect it wasn’t.  A couple of the women of our class decided that the class was just an introduction to fasting.  They wanted to experience a bit of the fast Hatmaker challenged us to in the study guide (but that we ignored).  A Facebook group was started, modifications were made to take into account summer vacations, and the group of men and women were off.

First, we fasted from food.  While none of us did a traditional fast, we all found fasts to fit our lives.  Our family decided not to buy any new groceries for an entire week in an attempt to experience running out of money at the end of the month.  I was more creative with cooking than I hoped to be the last week of school, but I had no problem keeping our family fed off of what was in our pantry and freezer.  However, more conversations were had around the dinner table and we discussed what life is like for some families in our school.  As a follow-up, we are going shopping for food for a neighborhood food pantry before the end of the summer.

The second two week segment, we fasted from clothing (we only fasted for one of those weeks).  I chose 7 pieces of clothing to wear for one week.  I am sure those other people at swim practice were wondering by the end of the week if I was wearing the same shirt every single day (I did).  The children didn’t participate in this one with us, but we discussed it as a family and decided to take money from our clothing budget to buy a super mosquito net for malaria prevention in Africa.

Which brings me to this segment–possessions.  In the possession process, I have gone thoroughly through rooms looking for things we can part with.  The goal was seven things per room, but it averaged out more to twenty (or more) things per room.  I went through almost every kitchen cabinet, kids’ drawers and closets, my drawers and closet, the laundry room, and anywhere else I could think of.  I purged things and organized.  My desk looks the best it’s looked in years–so does my pantry.  I sorted my stuff I was getting rid 0f–A Half Price Books pile, one for Goodwill, and one for the Freestore.

I got rid of lots and lots of stuff.  However, to look at my house, no one could tell I had just given away more than 100 things.  A few spaces look less cluttered, but more because I cleaned deeply than because I have significantly less.  It’s only after getting rid of what felt like a lot did I realize exactly how much I had.  I could probably go through each space again and find 100 more things to purge.

Why do I have so much?  Why do I keep so much?  What pulls on me the most about my possessions?

Which brings me back to where I started–dropping Buzz off at the Goodwill donation site.  My weakness is being able to part with things that I am not using.  I have a box of baby clothes that I am saving longterm for each child, until I get around to making them into a quilt.  I have a bin in the top of John’s closet with baby and toddler toys and books, just in case (not of another child for us, but all the other just in cases).  I have train tracks and roads boxed up, along with the Play Mobile castle so that some day, my grandchildren may have toys to play with at my house.

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And then’s there Buzz.  Buzz is a symbol of my children’s preschool years.  Those years, which I thought would never end, are over.  I left Buzz on the couch where he was briefly admired and played with before disappearing back into John’s room.  Buzz plus the pictures and videos are all that are left of John as a three year old.  By holding onto Buzz, I get to keep just a glimpse of who John was way back then.

My children are growing up.  Quickly.  Over and over this summer we’ve had new firsts that have heralded greater independence and less restrictive schedules.  For the first time, Madeleine and friends were allowed to explore Schlitterbahn without me.  For the first time, Madeleine would call friends on the phone and arrange to meet them at the pool.  For the first time, we stayed up late enough for fireworks on the Fourth of July.

So I am keeping Buzz a little bit longer.  I’m not ready to let him go yet.  I’ve loved this summer with my kids–they’re mostly so much fun and we’ve enjoyed exploring together.  I love the elementary ages (I am getting glimpses of the middle school years already, and I must admit, I am scared).

Buzz Lightyear gets to stay though.  At least for awhile.

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