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Reuse, Reycle, Re-diculous

February 10, 2014 - Diane Laney Fitzpatrick

My friend Lynn put a question to my "Home Sweet Homes" readers and it was this: What can I do to repurpose old trophies?

The silence was deafening.

Except for the screams coming from the DIY no-waste gods, who had met their match in Lynn and her closetful of soccer participation trophies.

I'd heard of reuse challenges before, but this one was a toughie. As a parent, it's pretty hard to get rid of those trophies. It's one of the few things that Goodwill won't resell. And for every trophy you throw in the garbage you get one more year in the rural mobile home discount nursing home.

The problem is, if you had a kid who was anything more than a juvenile delinquent, you have boxes of worthless, useless faux-gold-plastic statues for doing things you can't even remember. I've sat on a lot of bleachers in my 27 years as a parent, but I can't for the life of me remember my daughter being on a girls softball team called the Grass Hoppers.

Trophies are the worst of the memorabilia because you can't frame them, fold them or digitize them. I have boxes of things I can't throw away because my kids' pudgy little hands touched them at some cute period of their lives. The book reports, preschool coloring sheets and spelling bee certificates aren't bad; they can be smashed down and put into bins. What really tests a mother's mettle are the 3-dimensional memorabilia - the trophies, solar systems, Pinewood Derby cars, caterpillars made out of egg cartons - and screw the elementary art teacher who introduces clay to the curriculum. I'd like to see her basement.

I've tried to provide my storage some relief by incorporating some of this stuff into the rest of the house. I have two macaroni necklaces in my jewelry box. On my desk is a paperweight that is a clay heart with a smiling face, signed on the back "Michael F." (so I can keep it straight from all the other Michaels that I gave birth to). I am making a quilt out of my daughter's old Johnny Depp shirts, which turned about 3 cubic feet of memories into an easily foldable blanket that she can put in her cat's crate if she wants. If I could figure out how to weave her brother's track trophies into it - now that would be a memory.

I was determined to find something into which Lynn could fashion or forge her trophies and, sure enough, I discovered a loosely knit group of women who have made wine stoppers and coat racks out of the statues, collages from the little plaques, and cupcake stands from the columns. One woman simply spray-painted trophies in trendy colors and lined them up on her mantel and rocked the world.

Now that I've solved Lynn's problem, it's time to start looking for something to make with all the useless crap I have in my own house. I have a terrible time throwing away things that aren't technically broken and that still smell OK. When my kids were little, I could just build a castle out of it or picture it larger and put it in Barbie and Ken's house. (Ken had a hoarding issue, if truth be told.) But these days I don't have anyone to help me make castles, and Barbie and Ken have long since retired, sold the Dream House, and got Ken some counseling.

Right now I have a small collection of black plastic tubes about the size of half of a cigarette that the dog poop bags are wrapped around. There are only about 10 poop bags in a roll, so we are generating these spools pretty fast. I keep looking at them and can't think of how to reuse them, unless I start doing hard drugs. They seem perfect for snorting something.

I may be able to glue them together to make a trophy.

~ ~ ~

Diane Laney Fitzpatrick is the author of Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves. Her Just Humor Me column runs here and on her website at


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