Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Plan, A Plan, My Kingdom For A Plan!

I need a plan for my genealogy research/writing for 2011 to participate in COG#101. Anyone got one they'd care to share? Normally I wouldn't have a problem coming up with one of my own but I find myself at a potential crossroads in life and I just don't know how things will play out. 

I'm in the process of buying a new (to me) home 30 miles away from my current home. We're downsizing to an "empty nester" condo. It's a short sale so it's a gamble. I don't know if the banks involved will agree to our offer or not. The latest feedback I've gotten is that I should have a decision by mid January (Yikes! They initially told me to figure on April/May). If I get the home it will mean I will have to scramble and focus all of my time and effort on the move for probably the next 3 months or so. 

If the short sale falls through, I'll be back to shopping for a new home and trying to fix up our current one to sell. Either way, my genealogy hobby won't be getting a lot of my attention in the near future. 

A big complication is that I'm a pack rat. So is my hubby. We've been in our current home for 22 years, raised our kids there. You wouldn't pick up on our pack-rat affliction by just walking through our house. The "stuff" is for the most part hidden in the attic, garage, basement, and one spare bedroom. BUT THERE IS 22 YEARS OF "STUFF" HERE!!! And there's a lot of painting to do and odd little things that need to be repaired/replaced before we can put the house on the market. And then there's the move itself. I haven't had to coordinate a move in 22 years so I'm a little rusty at it ;-)

If I'm totally honest here, genealogy research/writing isn't even on my radar screen at the moment. I'm wondering if I'll have to ask for a volunteer to host the February and maybe March COG editions in case I can't make the time to host them myself. I'm telling myself, "now, now, Jasia, don't get ahead of yourself" but it is a possibility. 

Excuses, excuses! I still need a plan to submit to COG #101 so here's what I'm going with, lame though it may be. My genealogy research plan for 2011 is to "fill in the holes" of at least one line of my family tree. I don't believe I can take any of my lines back any farther than I already have but I am missing documents for a  few individuals on each of my branches and I'd like to come up with those missing vital records. My writing plan for 2011 is to keep posting to Creative Gene, LOL! If I can add content of value here over the next year I'll be content with that. Much as I'd like to plan to write up my family history, I'm not at all confident that I can take on that big a project in the near future. 

Anyone got any good advice about home downsizing for a lifelong pack rat?


  1. I know what you mean, I am cleaning my grandparents home to get it ready for sale, they bought the house in 1924, so it has been a long time getting full.

  2. My rules for downsizing - no one needs old maternity clothes (I had a trunk full), college text books (6 boxes), encylopedias (6 boxes), outdated sports equipment or our old stuffed animals.

    Keep two or three classic toys for visiting children and let the rest go someplace where they'll be used. I could go on, but I'll spare you, except to say don't try to find the perfect home for each item. Just push it out the door to a consignment shop, yard sale, charity or Goodwill. You can do it, and it will feel glorious once you're done. Then you can get back to the really important stuff!

  3. Hmm, love your post. I am still living the '22 years raising the kids' part of your life. That said, I am already worried (yes I like to worry ahead) about the day we downsize because we have a big house and a lot of 'collections', including my genealogical one. I have already started giving away books, even though it is painful, it feels good after it is done. My advice to you, my future self, is give away anything that you can get your hands on or use somewhere else. Good luck. You were smart to make a very doable goal for 2011. Still working on mine. ;)

  4. Wow, Charles, I don't envy you that task! 22 years is enough of a challenge for me, lol!

    NR, I like your rules!!! They are simple and they don't involve throwing away any of my genealogy "stuff", lol! Thanks!

  5. SG, I can relate... I'm a worry ahead person too. Obviously I didn't worry enough about the downsizing event to not accumulate stuff over the years but that doesn't mean it wasn't on my mind ;-) Thanks for the advice!

  6. I've been going through the same thing with my parents house they lived in for over 50 years. My dad was an only child so when his parents passed after 49 years in their home, much of it was moved to our home. I could go back even further but you get the idea.

    Nolichucky has great rules. Goodwill/charity has worked great for us.

    Just pick a room, cupboard or area and have at it until it's clear. Remember to enjoy and celebrate the memories that you uncover as you go. It makes it a lot easier and more fun.

    Good luck. It's overwhelming but there is light at the end of the tunnel - really!

  7. Thanks for the positive outlook, MG. Yes, I must keep in mind there is light at the end of the tunnel. It really does feel overwhelming!

  8. Jasia, if you need me to fill in as a host, just let me know. Good luck with the home!

  9. Thanks Bill! I may just take you up on that.

  10. Jasia,
    Raised my kids, but they're still here! Can't afford their own place even though both have jobs! So all their stuff back again. I have just given to Salvation Army five bags of stuff I realized I could buy if needed (and probably won't) My biggest worry is the 25 bankers' boxes of family letters, diaries, artifacts, documents, photos. We almost threw out the unreadable ancient German letters (I was a German major, but this script is unreadable by most present-day Germans!). Then I found a 90 year old woman in Germany who could read them! I mail them to her. She emails me back what they say in readable German. I translate into English. Guess what? I found my grandfather's diary of his "Trip to America" and have it now posted on my blog -- 100 years to the date it was written in 1910 (Tomorrow, 12/31/1910, he boarded the ship). I have love letters between my grandparents, a century old. Letters from the old country of their travails during the wars. All almost tossed. I have diaries from the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, etc. and more than 250 WWII letters. What to do with all this before I die! I can't schlep it around forever, but want it to have a good home. Any ideas?
    Also trying to come up with a plan for 2011! Eager to hear others'.

  11. Suggestion, for those items you feel must go, but you still have a bit of an attachment to


    Take LOTS of photos of the item, from every angle you can find. Take close ups, not so close ups and far away photos. Turn it upside down and inside out if possible.

    Then, you can always look at the photo after it is long gone.

    OHHHHH, if things move fast, and you cannot possibly sort it all, rent a storage locker! No one says it HAS to be done before you move.

    I found that when I open a cupboard, or drawer, or closet, if I see something that I know is going to walk out the door and find a new home, I grab it, and dispose of it right then and there. Garbage, bag it. Goodwill, make a pile, box it, whatever, once in the Goodwill pile, do NOT take it out of said pile. I found that by getting rid of some of the obvious stuff first and quickly, the rest was easier to deal with.

    You can do it, lots of my full timing RV friends have.

    Good luck, before you know it, you will be all moved, comfy, tucked into the new digs and back to serious research.

  12. Oh, Jasia, I know what it's like to look at all that stuff. My dream is to not to leave a house to my children that is a burden. But I can't offer any useful advice on downsizing, because I'm so bad at it myself. P.S. I can also guest host if you need a second one.

  13. Jasia,

    Just do one corner (or box, or drawer) at a time and it won't be so overwhelming. Sometimes you have to just let things go. I did some purging over the summer and still have a ways to go. It feels good once the non-essential clutter is gone from your life (even if it was just hidden away and not IN your way).


  14. Linda, wow! You have the mother lode of family history treasures!!! I've just added your blog to my feed reader... can't wait to read about your grandfather's trip!

    Carol, when I read your comment I had a "duh!" moment. As a photographer I should have thought about taking pictures but it didn't occur to me. Thanks for the suggestion. It's a great one!

    Greta, thanks for the offer to host. I may just take you up on your offer too!

    Donna, the doing one corner at a time sounds good and I can probably manage that but the "sometimes you just have to let things go" part... NOOOO! Say it isn't so, LOL!

  15. In the fall when we had to clear out our mom's place, after her death, we had a team of 10 people...the younger ones took bags of items to the adults' waiting vehicles...and we sorted, pitched, took some things to Goodwill and other charities, and when all else failed, put lots of things in the basements of willing home owners, to sort through at a later I recommend inviting lots of help, with you as the foreman!
    Good luck!

  16. Oh Dorene, I love the idea of lots of help! Great idea!!! Let's see, who can I get to help... I know, I'll draft my kids! They're old enough to be able to lift and carry and take some of this "stuff" home with them too (probably a lot it is their stuff anyway ;-) . Thanks for the suggestion!

  17. I had a rule with the exception of genealogy related materials and fabric, to let it go if I had not used it in 6 months. I still collected many things, because I had not used them in 6 months they had to come back into my radar. LOL
    I have to confess for my submission I combined my genealogy goals with my writing goals.

  18. Filling in the holes may take a lot more time, too. There may be a reason why they are holes!.lol.
    Though those branches are so many, we can often do those at the end of a limb forgotten and other matrimonial lines.

    I have to hand it to you for not bowing out on the project and submission.

    And I am also a pack rat. Once you start digging out all that stuff you may have blog material. things that add to our life from family members. That was mothers, that was fathers I remember when aunt sally collected those and gave us one. etc.It's more personal, of course. But if I do it [blog it], maybe I can hand the item off to someone else and free up more space.

    Projects like that, I hope to get done one of these days, if only I would be brave enough to dig in my attic.! I have bitten one piece off at one of my blogs doing Stubborn Sissy, I hope to cover something like I suggested. Doable?

  19. I'm for sure a pack rat. It seems every ancestor's broken, chipped, or cracked things ended up with me, along with some 'perfectly good' stuff.

    Taking photos of treasures you have to let go of is a good idea - and you'll be great at that!

    Another idea is writing up something about the items to go with the photos. That's what I've been doing, but too slowly. I figure even if I can keep these family treasures, my kids probably won't. So if I do photos and writeups and keep these in an album or book, likely they'd keep that and then they and future generations will have a story and photos to look at later. (Getting this done faster will be in my 2011 plan. My dear daughter will be happy!)

  20. I wish you good luck with the condo purchase!

    You've gotten lots of good ideas for getting rid of stuff. For the things you don't want to part with get creative on storage ideas for the new place.

  21. Jasia, one trick that works for me is to Toss Ten Things. You just commit to doing that once a day, or once in each room each day depending on how much time you have. It's a lot easier to go into a room and find ten things you don't want than it is to go in with the idea that you're gonna sort things or get rid of everything extraneous. You can always do more than ten, but not less. If you do more than ten, it should be in groups of ten. "Toss" means either throw away or give to someone or donate, as appropriate, but you have to get it out of the house. Goodwill stuff goes directly into the car, and you can drop it off next time you're going by there. Keep a list of the Goodwill items as you bag them, for your tax write-off. Stuff given to people has to be claimed and taken away by them by the following weekend, not left in storage at your house! And of course the trash goes out every week. A nice variation is to toss ten of a certain type of item: ten cosmetics, ten clothes, ten kitchen utensils, etc. Or do it on the buddy system. My daughter and I did a Ten For Ten Challenge during December... tossed ten things for ten days, reporting daily what we tossed.

  22. Jasia,
    I like TK's idea of ten things to toss. I was raised with Depression era parents who found it hard to throw out anything (especially my dad). I'm trying to break that habit. It used to be you had to save everything because you didn't have the money to replace it and you "might need it someday." We saved things for decades that were never used -- or forgotten so not used. Most things we can replace if we REALLY need it. So....take a deep breath. Try the three box method: Toss/Give away; keep for sure; maybe keep. Anything you could replace if needed (like piles of paper, most books. older clothes not worn for a couple seasons, just get rid of. Keep: only if you really use it, or it's super sentimental. Files of info? Every piece of how-to or advice can be found on the internet. Old magazines? Forget it. You won't get to them and it's old news anyway. Gotta read that one article? Rip it out and put in a file folder. If you don't read it in (say) 3 months, toss it. There's so much info out there to read. Another thought: there are scores of on-line organization/decluttering sites and books. Google "decluttering" and you'll get tons of ideas -- some of which will be just right for you.

    Not that I'm perfectly de-cluttered, but I'm a "recovering" hoarder.

  23. Jasia,

    I have a "Goodwill" basket in my laundry room always ready for items I'm willing to pass on to someone who will use it, needs it, or will appreciate it more than I do! Though that's not for a "move" it helps clear out the clutter which, I believe, is a solution to prevent too many possessions having no purpose and taking up space.

    I also read a book along with a friend who was in your situation, because I was cleaning, organizing, and purging at the time of her move and I found it helpful. It's called "Rightsizing Your Life" by Ciji Ware. Hope it helps and good luck!

  24. Jasia,
    Let us all know how the downsizing goes!

  25. Since I already live in a tiny place, the following is obvious: Anything that doesn't fit doesn't get to stay here. Instead of torturing yourself at the onset, take it all with you. Once you're tripping over it, it will become very obvious what you want to keep and what has to go.

  26. Seriously ... make a floor plan to scale of where you're moving to and decide where everything fits before you take it there. Get rid of the rest.

  27. Jasia - I feel your pain. In 2004 I had to close out my mom's house unexpectedly. I had my mom in a nursing home, an 18-month old toddler, and a house with a hundred years of stuff that had to be sold on a deadline. What to do, what to do? In the midst of all this I happened to hear a professional organizer speak. She said keep what you love. That simple bit of advice has helped me immensely over the years. If you don't LOVE it, dump it! Best advice EVER!

  28. Good luck all of your upcoming changes! I would be a pack rat too if we stayed in one spot for very long. The Army makes us purge every 2-3 years though, so we've been able to get rid of the junk as we go along. I like Cynthia's advice - keep what you love (and the things that serve a purpose, that you actually use on a regular basis.)

  29. Three years ago we downsized. We had a sale, used Craig's list, donated to the church rumage sale, etc. I farmed as many things out to my kids as I could. But one was in the Peace Corps in Paraguay and I had to pitch or pack all her stuff.

    It was easy to pack for her; there were no "emotional attachments" to things and mostly I packed what she had, including every note she had ever written or received surreptitiously in school (naturally folded into thumbnail size)...I certainly didn't have time to unfold, never-mind read them all.But when I came to an old tissue box the papers weren't I looked to find just scraps of paper of odd sizes and shapes....those got pitched!

    My husband had retired and no longer needed a tie every day. I think he had close to 100. He kept them in the closet and they would slither off the wrack, I called them the "snakes". We eventually got rid of most of them.

    I found that some things were easier to sort through than others. I'd alternate between hard decision and easy decision sorting.

    You may even find some treasures you did know you had.

    Good luck, soon you'll be in your condo and know everything you have and where it is!

  30. Jasia,

    I'm in the middle of packing, and moving in a few weeks myself. Luckily will be staying with my son and his wife until I get a new place. Soo post what your bricks walls are and mebbe some folks who are catching their breath between boxes might take a lookie for you.

    J at Cow Hampshire

  31. Hi Jasia,

    I'm sure you are a multi-time recipient of the Ancestor Approved award, but I just had to pass it on to you anyway. COG has been such a great experience this year, plus I enjoy reading your blog! So from one Polish girl to another, thanks for everything!

    You may pick up the award at



  32. Unfortunattely, I don't have any tips, but I sure enjoyed reading the comments. My only junk / stuff is genealogy related. (Have moved 16 times in my life, so with each move, stuff got tossed, guess that is my system.) I hope the move goes well and look forward to reading about this new phase of your life.