We had company coming to our house the other day. After being spit on several times and having a soggy bottomed child sit on me at least twice throughout the day, by the time they arrived, my "to be seen in public" clothes were only just hitting the dryer and I was in my very comfy, but "Capri" sweats as a last resort.

On a side note: never buy sweats that are only JUST long enough… even…or perhaps especially… if they are very cheap.  As you probably already know and as I NOW know,  they shrink and you end up with Capri sweats which you will want to wear anyway because they are comfortable and were a good deal, but you won’t get ALOT of good out of them because they aren’t so comfortable that you’ll wear them to your local small-town post office, even though other members of your community regularly pick up their mail in pajamas and slippers.

I considered putting on my incredibly striking striped socks to decorate my calves while I greeted them to demonstrate my cavalier attitude towards my appearance, but instead, I hid my bottom half under the table under the pretext of setting up our game board until the dryer went "ping".

The good news is that letting people into my home while I look somewhat like a clown, distracts me enough to simultaneously learn to allow people into my home without having a coronary over the fact that it is NEVER clean and only rarely neat. While I travel in the direction of not being so tied up over the appearance of my abode, I am, at the same time, still striving towards that far off and immeasurable goal of ‘more clean’. Can you get more confused than that??

I’m afraid so.

In the midst of my striving towards "more clean", I suddenly find myself sorting three large garbage bags of 3 and 4T clothing that recently came into my possession. Don’t get me wrong. I’m terribly grateful for the immeasurable amounts of clothes that come our way. Being the youngest and growing up with 20ish nieces and nephews with moms that are also savers and use again-ers has it’s advantages. Even after sorting out items that are too worn or whose elastic is toast, we still have plentiful amounts of different outfits: play, dress and even perfect condition suits!!!! Before this winter, we had only ever purchased for our first born… socks, a package of onesies, and a high-chair. This winter, we purchased one ‘lot’ of boys pants for him off of ebay. I think completing that winter wardrobe cost us around $9.00 total. This is a huge blessing, so I AM TRULY grateful. It’s just that managing the stuff takes abilities I don’t come by naturally!

If I were super-organized, that would be easy. "Well, future stuff for Asa goes here and Orion’s tote is here and these random shoes that don’t fit yet can go…" PLUS I’d remember where all this stuff is, and know exactly what each tote contained because of my handy recipie card file box index of each and every tote in my possession and its location.  BUT… I’m not quite to that epitome of organization at this point. I only just organized my boy stuff into boxes named "Boy 1, boy 2, boy 3" before Asa arrived. That way, when I’m done with "Boy 1" I put all that stuff back and go on to "Boy 2". Hopefully by doing it this way all the weirdness in size differences that make some 4T’s barely fit my 2T and some 2T’s fit my three year old with room to spare, won’t mess up my system.

So back to the immediate point… I suddenly find myself with clothes to sort. My brain can barely handle sorting and folding laundry that we ALREADY wear and actually has a designated place. This kind of pressure…, well I can’t handle it.

Not only am I sorting "Keep, give away" which involves deciding for each item… "is it in good condition, will they wear it, does he need it… does he have eight of this item already in the future tote??… I can’t remember. Do I want to go through the ‘future’ tote now, or just cram this stuff into it and sort it all out when the future tote becomes the "boy 5" tote next winter? Is it normal enough that I’ll put it on him everyday or will I save it for special occasions until he’s grown out of it, not having worn it…EVER??"

About this time, my brain hit’s the wall… much like when your body has worked in such unnatural ways that you just can’t lift the 200LB weight with the bicep, calf simultaneous workout machine thing. And if one of those hasn’t been invented yet, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.

But it’s not even THAT easy, because I am also sorting for "size 3, size 4, size 4 that fits like 3 and size 3 that fits like 4, and ‘is this an appropriate item for my daughter to utilize since my son can’t wear it anymore or should I just stick it in Asa’s future totes." That’s just too many categories for my little brain.

Not only does it confuse me, it goes against the grain of my emotions also. The accomplishment centers of my brain fire up like crazy when I get rid of the one bag of clothes that we don’t need or that Orion didn’t wear and Asa probably won’t either. So all this time I’ve been gritting my teeth and going at the sorting and storing trying to feel the pleasure of being prepared and frugal, trying to feel noble while thinking of all the ways our families sharing and frugal natures strikes at the heart of consumerism and therefore benefits our planet by cutting down on the greenhouse gasses that would have been created to produce a completely new wardrobe for each kid for each season… I mean, this is the ULTIMATE in recycling. Some of these outfits were once on my 13 year old nephew, have been worn by his two younger brothers, their two older-than-my-offspring cousins AND are now beyond Orion’s use and waiting for their sixth owner, Asa-boy. We’re talking an extra 8 holes in the ozone at least! =) And obviously, these clothes are built to last, why would we WANT to buy the new ones!

When my weird noble-thinking rationalization doesn’t work fulfill my sense of accomplishment, I fall back on the thrill I’ll have on that distant day when I’ll be able to give ALL of this away at once!!!

….EXCEPT, I hear that about the time you decide you are through having children and give away all of your clothes, baby things, etc. you get that wonderful experience of pregnancy again and have to replace EVERYTHING for one last child. The only benefit I can see to that is at least we’d know which kid it is without trying to find a date on the photo… this is noticeable with Orion and Asa already since at many of these baby stages they are twins three years removed. Once we replace everything for the very last child it’ll be easier. "Well… nobody wore that outfit except Pruniprismia, it must be her!" (Don’t get too concerned, I don’t plan on entitling any of our children with this.. um… regal sounding name.  Don’t tell Matt, though.. I plan to use this as my ‘alternative’ to force through my top choice… well, it could be ____ or Pruniprismia.  Which do you like the best?)

This means, I’ll be storing clothes until my kids have their own children and I start passing the Boy #1 and Girl #3 totes to them. Then THEY will get to do all the sorting and they won’t be able to call me for help. Oh no! Because by then I’ll be sitting in a dark corner or padded room somewhere muttering,

"Is this a real 3T or a 2T disguised as a 3T?… Will bell-bottoms, oh… excuse me, FLAIRED LEGS be in again before child 2 hit’s a size 10?… Will Lithany or anyone else who’s opinion we value notice that this is a boy’s shirt if I try to pass it off on her when she turns 12?… I wonder if there is any way to turn these worn out overalls into a cute jumper?"

Okay, the last one’s just for fun, I’m not that far gone yet.

To those of you who turn overalls into cute jumpers. You’re awesome. You’re creative. You’re welcome to my worn out overalls. All I ask is that you don’t raise my bar any higher by teaching me how to do it!! Sorting and storing is my max level of frugalness with regard to clothes… and even that is stretching it. 

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