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It occurred to me that I should occasionally follow the rules, so though I have three beloved children and they’re all my favorites, today I’m going to choose only one to write about.

kiddosI chose Pete. He’s my youngest. My last. My baby. The one who tags along with me a lot because he’s not as social as his brother and sister. He’s my mischievous child. Just look at that face! I shot this a few minutes after I told him he couldn’t walk in the stream.

Mt. Evans (40)

“I didn’t walk in it. I only stepped in it.”

Pete has his own sense of style and doesn’t care what people think about it. His socks NEVER match, he wears camouflage every chance he gets, and his latest fashion craze is his women’s fuzzy polka-dotted robe.photo(9)peteSee? I was serious! This kid makes me laugh with his punny jokes. He asks me astoundingly intelligent questions that are difficult to answer. He says he’ll never stop cuddling with me. Eventually that might get awkward, but at eleven years old, he can’t foresee a day in his life he won’t want to cuddle with me. I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts!

june 9 2015 655Pete is a pretty amazing kid!

Read about more amazing kids on my fellow  challenger friend’s blogs:

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Armed with my handful of black trash bags, I donned my scuba mask (the kind that covers your nose) and heavy-duty gloves, preparing for my trek to the man-child’s room. As I traversed the first mountain of dirty clothes, I regretted my decision not to pack a sandwich. I could be in here for hours! I heard a groan from across the room, then a large lump on the bed whined, “Do we have to do this today?”

“Be brave, Tris” I whispered.

He didn’t get my Divergent joke, or find the mask and gloves the least bit funny.

While almost none of this story is true, (the groaning and trash bags were real) Max was nervous but determined to clear out his stuff. And guess what? We did it!

We spent the morning distracted by friendly visitors, including a very sweet and cuddly 3-month-old named Lillian Grace. When everyone left, I explained my plan to my firstborn and we got to work. Together. That was the key. I could yell and scream at that kid for hours about cleaning up his room, shaming him for letting it get so out of hand, and threatening to take away his birthday, but I decided to try out the adage about catching flies with honey instead of vinegar.

Before we began, I made a list of questions for us to ask as we deliberated over the harder choices of what to part with:

Purging QuestionsWe started at the doorway and chatted while we worked side by side, sorting clothing, shoes, papers, books, trash, and projects.

Oh. My. Word. Max loves projects. He’s a creative spirit and his hands are always moving, shaping, cutting, crafting, carving, and duct-taping. And his room tells the tale. His work table alone qualifies for hoarding status.Well, it did. Now it’s a sleek work space.

All of my children are sentimental, so I wondered if this purging quest would challenge them to tears. I was a bit surprised as I watched Max toss things in the trash I was sure he’d have a reason for keeping. I was prepared to talk him through it, but he was doing fine on his own, so I kept my mouth SHUT! In the case of decluttering, more is better, and there was no way I was slowing that process down.

I didn’t ask him why he kept every scrap of paper his girlfriend has ever given him, or why he needs a dozen green lantern rings, but I was truly puzzled why he had four shoes with no mates. Seriously? Four? How does that even happen?

At the end of the day we had cleared out three large bags of trash, donated over half of his stuff to the thrift store down the street, and discovered he does in fact have carpet in his room.

What did we learn from this hours-long process?

  1. It’s not about organizing your stuff, it’s about getting rid of stuff so you have less to organize.
  2. Stuff quickly becomes junk when left on the floor to get stepped on.
  3. Teenage boys can reach a breaking point with their clutter and beg to just bag everything up and start over.
  4. It’s possible to have too many pillows and blankets, and pens. The boy has almost as many pens as I do!
  5. He slept better in his clean space last night, and I slept better knowing we’re almost half way done! We didn’t work on the house today, but tomorrow is all about Zoe’s room, the bathrooms, and hall closets.

I almost forgot! Not only did a friend stop by with Chai, Benny and Zoe purged the kitchen and dining room for me!

How about you? Are you inspired to purge your own house yet? Are you ready to embrace simple minimalism? What is the strangest thing you’ve decluttered? Does it beat four mismatched shoes?

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Pete is my goofy kid. He is highly entertaining! One of Benny’s favorite hashtags on Twitter is #randomcrappetesays. He loves making people laugh and he’s one of those kids that is just naturally funny. He uses a lot of big words-most of the time in the correct context, but it’s funny to hear those things come out of such a small mouth. Much to the dismay of his siblings, he also loves playing practical jokes on people.

Pete is a builder. He loves to spread things out so he can get a good look at what he’s got to work with, so it was no surprise when he covered our dining room table with Legos last night and spent hours dreaming up variations of speed cruisers, water/land boats, and various flying machines. He makes all the noises that go along with building things and it gives me the giggles. He plays with such abandon. I want to be more like that.

If we were a normal family –and believe me, I know we’re not – Pete would have been labeled already. I’d have teachers wanting him sedated medicated. The boy has loads of energy. A few years ago I was lectured by a woman who told me that at some point he needed to learn how to be quiet and sit still. Duh. He knows how to do that and I believe there is a time and place for it, but I also let him be him. He often stands up to do his schoolwork, or does a problem then spins around in his desk chair, then does another problem. He concentrates better when he can wiggle a bit. If I notice him getting too squirrely, I have him do jumping jacks or bounce up and down for a minute. It helps. I also understand that he can sit for hours at a time if he is engrossed in what he’s doing (like his Lego time), so I’m not going to let him be labeled. I’m going to take my cues from him, then direct him accordingly.

This pic (click on it to enlarge it) is proof to all who are familiar with his energy level that he can in fact sit quietly in a chair. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s possible. He can also sit still in public. This is him playing Chess with one of our street friends on the mall. He LOVES being there with us, and he talks to everybody.  He is somewhat fearless in public. For example, he took a blanket and his bongos to the Pearl Street Mall and played for over an hour hoping to make a little cash. I NEVER would have done something like that at his age.

He’s an amazing kid, goofiness, high energy, and all. I love him that way, I just wish he’d share some of that energy with me. 🙂

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