On New Year's Day my husband and I had a morning to ourselves. Our sons would be coming back in the afternoon after a sleepover at my parents' home, so what would we do with the next five hours?

We decided to clean out the house. Oh, how fun. It actually was fun for my husband. He loves to get rid of things. I, on the other hand, am a saver. I'm not extreme, like the people on A&E's "Hoarders" show, but sometimes I have a little difficulty parting with things.

I keep things for the good memories associated with them. In second grade, I was a cornstalk in my elementary school's production of "The Wizard of Oz." My costume was made of yellow and green felt, and the corn tassels on the top of my hood were made of tissue paper. The costume was not in good shape, and our boys have no interest in dressing up as a cornstalk for Halloween, so it went into the trash.

I also keep things that I think I might need someday. We came across some beads and plastic leis. Well, you never know when you're going to be invited to a Mardi Gras party or a Hawaiian luau party, but I put those things in the charity pile.

Going through the filing cabinet was a big task. I had tax returns dating back to 1995, lots of product manuals, medical insurance statements from years ago - just in case!

One part of the house that was pretty easy to get through was the playroom and the boys' toys. At ages 8 and 5, Preston and Griffin are far beyond board books like "Goodnight Moon" and "Barnyard Dance." They are done playing with Fisher-Price Little People and the musical instruments from the Kindermusik classes we used to attend. "Bob the Builder" and "Go, Diego, Go!" toys have been replaced with Legos and Pokémon cards.

The boys bring home tons of toys from festivals and birthday parties at Peter Piper Pizza and Chuck E. Cheese's (and I'm certain that stream will continue in the future), so we gathered up those to donate.

We made a lot of progress that day. We filled up the trash can and recycling can and a few days later, took two carloads of items to the Salvation Army donation center. It felt great to shed some of the unnecessary stuff in our home.

But I'm still saving the Barbie dolls and Cabbage Patch Kids that I played with when I was a girl. The boys might get married one day and have daughters. Just in case!

E-mail Kelley Helfand at foothills@azstarnet.com