I love Spring.
As the winter snows melt, I am always so happy to see the first Snowdrops bloom under our Crabapple tree just outside our front door.
It is a sign for me. Winter is past, and brighter sunny days are ahead.
It matches the deepest longings of our human hearts, that bursting forth of fresh new life!
As a Catholic mother, I absolutely love that our lives have such an attachment to the rhythm of the liturgical year. It is a constant that gives me security. It gives incredibly clear direction and purpose, and oh how I welcome that in the constant hullabaloo of family life with its constant distractions, interruptions and unexpected incidents! I find myself telling the children, “There are two times of year when you should thoroughly clean and purge your home, Lent and Advent.” I still believe that’s true!
Lent is a favorite time of year for me. It is a time when we “prepare” for the joy of Easter. And that means many things for this family.
Preparing for Easter means three things for us as a family. Preparing our home. Preparing our hearts. Preparing our bodies.
Today, I am writing a little about some of the things we did to prepare our home.
Yes, reaching into the recesses of our home and emptying every single closet and drawer. Purging. Cleaning. Putting order back into our lives. (even if it is only a very temporary state, I will take that order for a day!!) For me, order in the home gives order to my brain. I cannot think when everything around me is chaotic!! And believe me when I say that with ten people in our growing family, it is shocking how much “stuff” accumulates. SHOCKING!!! During Lent, I must also face my own weakness of allowing too much into our home to begin with! The accumulation of piles and disorder escalated when we became busy planning the wedding of our daughter, Maggie to her beloved Charles. Five months after the wedding, we unexpectedly began an eight month stint of emergency Cardiac ICU stays with our Sam, ending in Open Heart surgery at Mayo clinic. You’re getting the picture, right? Oh, help. Every single drawer, closet, and cupboard was in dire need of a Coscto sized box of garbage bags and a little tlc. 🙂 I shared with my dear friend, Julie, that we were working on restoring order after this mother was absent for so long in the cleaning department! She texted us a little motto to work by: “You can’t organize clutter, you must evict it.” Print and POST!! We forged ahead.
I made a quick trip to The Container Store to purchase a few items that would give things like drawing pencils, essential oils, and coupons a “home”. Fresh shelf liner was also purchased to replace all the old and worn out pieces in the kitchen cabinets and drawers. Now we were ready to dig in! We turned on the music, rolled up our sleeves and with the intention of trying to simplify our lives, we entered the world of Spring cleaning!
We decided that we would all work together on the first floor, one room at a time. First, going from room to room, packing up all the little Christmas items still lurking here and there ~ off to the basement they went! I know you are scandalized that we even had Christmas things still around. Oh brother, did we ever! (shocking how much went into that last Christmas rubbermaid)
Then we started on the kitchen because this was the room that had not had a deep clean in a few years. And it needed a thorough purging for sure! Every cabinet and drawer was emptied. If a dish had not been used in the past year, it was donated. The lids, oh the lids. I couldn’t figure out a way to make chic jewelry from it all, so an entire garbage bag was filled with lids that no longer had a container to match. Embarrassing……..
Our everyday dishes are kept in the lower cabinets so that our peeps with special needs have easier access for emptying the dishwasher, as well as when they help set the table. So who knew what we would find down below!!! After the bottom cabinets were finished, we started on the drawers.
Shocking isn’t it?? Yep, THIS pile of chaos is REAL life!
Every drawer was emptied. Years and years ago, I decided to stop driving myself crazy asking “Who?” ~ as in, “Who would think it is a good thing to dump out the entire box of matches in that drawer?” Because, as you can see, it would lead to an endless mantra of “Who”, and I would be a mad woman!!! Who put these twenty clumps of play dough in the drawer, and WHO thinks we should save, yes, save a votive candle already consumed??
And did I say I could never find a pair of scissors?????
Then each drawer gets scrubbed.
And scrubbed. And scrubbed…..
And a fresh new layer of shelf liner covers a multitude of ANCIENT!
With a family this large, and a house this size, I have to admit we did not get to every nook and cranny as I would have liked, but we made great progress at cleaning and simplifying! We took out at least 10 bags of trash and donated a trunk filled twice with items we do not need.
Triduum approached. Cleaning needed to stop. Now, I was free to do the little bit of readying our home for Holy Triduum and Easter……
With a little inspiration from Brooke and Tina at Designers Collective, I felt inspired to get our table ready for Holy Thursday using some of their fresh ideas.
I repurposed three old birch bark candles that were completely used up, and I thought ready for the trash can.
Incorporating little touches of nests and eggs that Jen helped me to find at our local Hobby Lobby, we loved how our table turned out and the kids all helped with setting it up, arranging and rearranging it all.
After two days cleaning the kitchen and other closets, we started to color eggs. This year we were trying something completely new! We were taking the natural route yet again and working with “natural dyes”.
Tumeric made lovely yellow eggs, and they turned out fairly quickly. The eggs pictured below were in the dye for 30 minutes or so, and were vibrant and sunny!
And we made dye with red cabbage….
It was worth all the work! Red cabbage made the most beautiful blue eggs. At first we weren’t sure this would work, as the eggs were barely colored. So we left the eggs overnight, and the blue was stunning and well worth the wait! Agnes, our harp player, even embellished hers with musical notes before dyeing!
The chili powder, even when the eggs were soaked overnight made the eggs only a bland green. I don’t recommend it. In the end, I thought the entire egg dying was too much mess, too much work and next year we would go back to the store bought dyes. Later that day, Maggie was looking at all the eggs and said, “I loved the red cabbage eggs, I can’t wait to do this again next year.” Guess we aren’t doing store bought dye after all.
And soon “Home” was ready for Easter joy! It wasn’t perfectly done, but I am thrilled with the progress we did make! Clearing the house helps us practice being less “attached” to possessions. (But I do hope there will be books and flowers in heaven!) In the end, I can say we did our very best given how busy life is, and angels can do no more! In a family like ours, there is always work to be done, and that means we also need to practice having balance. After a certain time, it is time for work to end. And so, Agnes and the girls were just chomping at the bit to bake up some favorite Easter treats to be locked away until the joy of Easter Sunday!
Friends, what do you do for Spring cleaning or getting ready for Easter?
Hope you’ll join me tomorrow for Part 2, Preparing our Hearts!