Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Too Much!

I had pulled about two-thirds of the materials out of the craft closet when I discovered water. Water? Yes, water. You see, my "craft closet" is a bathroom. In a prior life it was the closet for the bedroom (and we think it may have been the master bedroom, but all the bedrooms are basically the same size, so we are going off the fact that this "closet" is a little bigger than the other closets). At some point someone converted the closet into a half bath, with a toilet and sink. It isn't tiny, either; I think our half bath in the condo was smaller. This was done before the current master bedroom was enlarged and a master bathroom was added.

Luckily, not much was wet. Either it is a very small, slow leak, or it started recently. It's hard to know. I didn't touch the valves, because they are old and we've learned from experience that once disturbed they will not work again. Papa is going to have to replace the old valves with quarter-turn valves, or else we'll have to hire a plumber. A year or so ago the toilet wouldn't stop running so I turned off its valve, and well, that's when I really started piling in the craft supplies. It's hard to imagine that a little over a year ago my parents stayed with us and slept in the school room (then an office/guest room) and used that bathroom. That was before I claimed the space for the boys and I; after all, why keep an entire bedroom in your house set aside for guests (and the occasional desk job) and keep complaining that the breakfast nook isn't working for homeschooling (that was after we graduated from the coffee table, which worked well until the boys started writing).

I'd really love to just rip the fixtures out, redo the walls and floors, and put in shelving to maximize the closet space. But really, who rips out a bathroom? We probably won't be here forever, and the bathroom adds value to the house. But me, I don't want another bathroom to clean, so they aren't using it even if we get it functional. Besides, I need it to be a closet!

Anyway, I actually turned on the computer to write about craft supplies. We have too many. I won't even get into the shelves and boxes of stamping and scrapbooking supplies that I have, because, well, I can't go there. I'm just talking about the craft and art materials that I have either passed down or purchased for the boys.

I'll admit it - they have a lot of cast-offs from my childless days. I experimented, a lot (I guess it is good to be able to say that what I experimented with was arts and crafts, and not say, alcohol and illegal substances). I had so much watercolor paper that I didn't need to buy any for the whole first year we painted with watercolors on weekly basis, and even this evening I found a pad of 12 sheets of 400 lb. watercolor paper, never used ($8.75, 15 years ago). There are paintbrushes, and palettes, and old paints. There are fabric crayons and fabric paints. There are small silk flowers, chalk pastels, glitter, buttons, oil pastels, confetti, watercolor pencils, cardstock, decorative scissors, punches, stickers, soapmaking supplies, yarn, and all of the rubber stamps I donated to their artistic pursuits.

There are basic preschooler supplies, like Do-a-Dot markers, poster painters, colored modeling "clay", scissors (like 12 pair, in case they have friends over), glue, tempera paints, big chunky paintbrushes, an old tabletop easel, Stockmar watercolor paints, their old Stockmar crayons, glitter paints, Prismacolor pencils, craft sticks, colored masking tape, etc.

Then, we have everything that I have purchased in the pursuit of homeschooling. Modeling beeswax, plastalina, Fimo, more Stockmar crayons (the toddler crayons had all been tossed around together and were more like confetti crayons than true art supplies), more wool, knitting spools, wool felt, wool stuffing, colored wool roving, doll bodies, cotton pipe cleaners, embroidery floss, small pieces of silk, paint brushes for wet-on-wet painting, painting boards, Arches watercolor paper, Da Vinci watercolor paints...

I seem to have taken hold of every idea I ever read in various "Waldorfy" publications over the course of 5 years about things you could do with your children. We have blackboards and erasers, everything for modeling, boards and felt for wool story boards (which we haven't even made yet!), everything for painting, everything for making bendies, simple dolls, and puppets (I failed at bendy making and we've made one felt puppet). We have wool roving and felting needles for dry felting, and a washboard for wet felting, neither of which we have done yet! We've collected bark, stones, shells, sticks, acorns, and lovely acorn caps.

The whole point is, we have too much! Too many choices means we don't choose much at all. I either have to weed through and get rid of a lot (the simplifying route), or find a way to organize and store it all in a way that allows us to get to what we need (the frugal, creative route).

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