Archive for the ‘simple living’ Category

A recurring theme on my blog, before I moved to Texas, was decluttering. When we moved, we made the ultimate move in living simply… we got rid of 99% of what we own. We only took with us what fit on top of our Saturn Vue and inside it after my two kids, two dogs, husband and myself were in place. Basically, we kept clothes, a few toys, the computer, a few books, and photos. Obviously, we had to replace some things when we got to TX. Like furniture. The week and a half we had no sofa drove me batty. We bought the kitchen basics (mostly secondhand) and a few new toys (secondhand) but other than that, we haven’t bought anything new.

And I love it. The kids have more room to play. We have less clutter to clean. Every once in awhile, I think of an item I miss. A few of them I have gone ahead and replaced, (a blender is high on our list right now) but for the most part I decide that I am happier with less stuff. Most people are shocked by our choice to live with less, but we are as happy as can be.

It was really interesting to see what we took with us- it showed where our priorities are. All about the kids of course… I did take two larger personal items- my camera and sewing machine, so I am not totally selfless haha. We surely did take more toys than totally needed, but I wanted the kids to adjust as easily as possible.

I find myself with much less desire to buy things now that I know how nice it is to live without the burden of clutter. Every once in a while I think I am crazy, but when I look around our cute little home, clutter free and cleaner than any home I’ve ever lived in, I am happy.

It’s kind of odd for me to be done decluttering, it was a goal for so long. I guess now the goal is to keep it simple and not allow it back into our lives. I am working hard to resist any urges I do have to get “stuff” just to have it, and we’re doing pretty well.

So for those of you who were decluttering, how’s it going?

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We don’t own a television. Any time this comes up, after whoever is hearing this for the first time picks his or her jaw up off the floor they ask me “What do you do all day long?”

Another shocker to many is that my kids won’t be attending school and that, at least for now,  I am “unschooling” Keagan. *and Eden, learning begins at birth, right?

So I thought I would show what it is we do all day long and how we learn without any sort of formal curriculum or lesson plan.

Our day in words and pictures 🙂

We planted a tree.

We learned that even big things start small.

We planned our garden. We learned that food does not come from the store and that hard work has its benefits.

We played on the playground.

We learned the being flexible comes in handy in life and that patience is a virtue. (It’s hard to wait your turn for the slide!)

We explored.

We learned not all who wander are lost.

We looked at bugs. We learned that ants “go really, really fast.”

We played in the dirt.

Mama learned to let things go.

One of us napped in the sun.

We all got our vitamin d the old fashioned way.

We picked flowers. We made wishes.

We learned the world could use more wonder.

We hugged trees. Literally.

We learned to revere nature.

Keagan cut himself.

We learned a deep breath and a good snack make most problems feel smaller.

We met our neighbors. We talked. We learned that a smile goes a long way in life.

We played. Keagan with a doll. Eden with a truck. We defied gender stereotypes…

and realized how silly they are.

Some seriously window coloring went on…

and we learned that art comes in many mediums…

Sometimes even baby sister’s face.

We relaxed.

We loved one another.

We learned that the little things in life matter the most.

We played. We laughed. We colored. We sang.

We read books.

We learned that fantasy can help us better understand reality.

We played with pom-poms. We counted. We sorted. One of us learned what fuzzy tastes like.

We learned that some items have any uses.

We cooked. Okay. I cooked. Keagan “helped” and Eden snacked.

We counted, measured and timed as we did so.

We learned that sometimes hard work tastes really good.

We ate. We laughed some more. We played and sang some more. We tickled and loved. We lived.

We learned that your family is the people who are there for you at the end of the day.

All in all it was a pretty good day.

I don’t think we’re missing out on anything without the TV. I don’t think we’re missing out on anything without the boxed curriculum or preschool.  I think we’re doing just fine and making the best choices for our family.

What do you think? 🙂

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So I’ve had a problem my whole adult life with laundry. My laundry room has ALWAYS been a mess. There have always been piles and piles of clothes everywhere- on the dryer, in the hamper ALL over the floor. Every time we’ve moved (and it’s been a lot) I’ve had to move big baskets of DIRTY laundry with us because I could just not keep up. Having two kids in cloth diapers has not helped, I keep up with the diapers, but I can’t keep up with the rest of the laundry. But today is a new day…

Today is the day I got the laundry room clean and de-cluttered!

It’s hard to tell in my dingy looking camera phone photo, but I went as far to clean the lint residue off the top of the dryer. I’ve never done that… I’ve not even seen the top of my dryer since the day we installed it. This is one clean laundry room!

(minus the random stains on the floor that were there when we moved in and don’t seem to want to leave no matter how hard I try… )

As sad as it is, this is huge for me. The laundry room has been my Achilles’ heel of homemaking. I feel like if I can declutter my laundry room I can actually be a half decent homemaker. Hooray!

A big part of what helped me do this is that I’ve really simplified our wardrobes. We don’t need ten pairs of jeans a piece. So now, with less clothing in the house, I must wash more often.

Just more motivation for me to keep pushing to live simply and declutter more. I can’t imagine how wonderful it will feel to have my whole home feel like this!

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This is something I have been circling around for awhile, but didn’t really know how to express. Then, I came across the phase “green consumerism” and it helped me to be able to articulate something that’s been on my mind for quite some time.

I’ll preface this by saying I know I am not like most people. And I am okay with that, we each choose our own path (or is it chosen for us… oh that’s another topic in itself!) My family and I purchase very few new items. This is for a lot of reasons. We refuse to support evil cooperations who enslave and abuse children in order to make their products. Please don’t try and tell me that it’s not happening. It is. Make whatever excuses you have for buying products that aren’t “fair trade,” but when it’s said and done, disgusting things are almost certainly done to end in the result of your cheap t-shirt. (And your expensive one…)

The next reason we don’t buy new is a selfish one. It saves money.

The third, very important reason we buy used is because so much of the “stuff” we use goes to landfills. It’s heartbreaking and disgusting. So we buy perfectly good clothing, toys, shoes, books and many other items from thrift stores. And when we no longer have use for an item, we find it a home other than the landfill. Why waste the Earth’s resources like that?

Now onto the recent push for the green movement. It’s great in a lot of ways. But there is another side.

We came into the possession of an item that I think puts it all into perspective. (Hand me down from a friend) It’s a toy recycling truck that came with a child’s meal at a fast food restaurant. A piece of plastic that is meant to be forgotten, thrown away and replaced with the next toy McWendy King puts out. A RECYCLING truck. The toy seriously made me sick to look at.I hope I am not the only person who sees this irony. (It went to Goodwill, where hopefully someone is less bothered by it and it will find a home)

The Green Movement is everywhere. Happy Meals included. But buying that Happy Meal was no less wasteful than buying any other Happy Meal. Nor is buying a new organic cotton t-shirt when you don’t really need a new shirt. It still had to be produced, probably overseas and shipped to your retailer. So when you decide that you need new “green” clothes to replace your old, perfectly good clothes, you are still negatively effecting the environment. When you walk into Target and see little trinkets in the $1 section that say “Going Green” or “Save the Earth” on the front and “Made in China” on the back, you are negatively effecting the environment.

All of this going green buzz has created a new kind of consumer. The green consumer. The green consumer either wants to feel better about their need to consume, so they buy green now, or they are missing the point.

We don’t need all this stuff, people. We don’t need Green Happy Meals. In fact, we don’t need unhealthy meals with too much packaging and cheap plastic prizes at all. We don’t need 20 organic cotton t-shirts when we have a closet full of regular cotton t-shirts at home. We have forgotten what it is to need in America. I am not saying you should never buy new. But take the time to think about if you really need something before you purchase it. Food included. Just because your tropical fruit you enjoy over the winter is organic does not mean it didn’t require a lot of shipping. Local foods are the best when possible.

Buying a product just because it’s “Green” is not always the “Earth Friendly” thing to do.

I just don’t think the consumer driven lifestyle and the green lifestyle really mesh. It’s hard to let go of that “must shop” attitude. It is engrained in us all. It’s taught to us at every angle from a young age. TV, magazines, role models, school… it’s everywhere. What did President Bush tell Americans we should do after 911? Shop. What?!! It’s everywhere. And it’s not an easy attitude to lose.

And some things are good purchases. Reusable shopping bags, (better yet, make your own out of those clothes you don’t want to wear any more…but I digress) water filters, chemical free cleaning products, reusable food and water containers. If you can’t find it used, buy it new because it is the wiser choice.

So when you have to buy new, buy green. But please, don’t buy “green” products for the sake of shopping. It will only end in the landfills and cooperate pockets simultaneously filling.

I am probably going to make all sorts of people mad with this post, but please just think about it. And I am not saying I never slip and do anything I shouldn’t – because I do! It’s just a perspective to consider.

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So we’re working on more decluttering.

I am oh so proud of myself. We managed to get a carload of stuff off to Goodwill this morning. I mean we didn’t go to church and I am not so proud of that (although with a sick child and recovering husband we really should stay out of public places so as not to spread our nasties) but I am proud of my carload of “stuff.”

If we work at it, we can probably get another load out there today. I want my home for living in, not for storing stuff we don’t need!

I was really torn about if I wanted to sell stuff or donate. We are donating most. It goes away more quickly and it goes to a good cause. (Isn’t my wallet a good cause? hehe) We will sell a few larger items, however.

I have this lovely vision of what my home will be like when we are all done. And I can’t wait. I can’t wait until we are not so overwhelmed by toys. I am so sick of tripping on them. I truly think Keagan will be happier playing with less. I know I will be happier cooking with less clutter in the kitchen for sure. And once the clutter is gone, I can decorate, and I am really excited for that. I am so ready to feel like I am at home. It’s been so long since I felt that way.

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We’re at our new home, trying to get unpacked. We just got the internet set up again so I can get back to blogging again.

The new place is a duplex in a great neighborhood. Not as urban as the last place and it’s surely no victorian mansion, but it’s great for us.

It’s small. Around 800 sf. Actually, I think closer to 750. But that’s okay. We have been progressively living more and more simply with each move and I like it. If you’ve read my blog before, you’ve probably realized that we’re pretty anti-consumerism and that we have been freeing ourselves from stuff slowly over the past year. Well this little place is a push in that direction. We currently have too many belongings to fit into our home. Our closets (which by the way, are awesome for such a small space!!) are overflowing with boxes. What is even in those boxes, I can’t tell you. But I can tell you this: I am dead certain that we don’t need most of it. We haven’t touched it in two months. That means it can’t be all that important!

So I started today with what mill likely be one of the hardest parts.

I got rid of books. Lots and lots of books. And I so love to read. I also love to have books around me, and around my kids. I want them to love reading as much as I. However, we just don’t have the space. So three large boxes of books went to Half Price Books today and they paid us $37 in cash for them. Just enough for me to buy two new nursing bras. Funny how God looks out for us like that. I needed those nursing bras badly (I won’t even get started about the sad state of my old bras….) and we don’t have much extra to spend at the moment, but God always provides.

So I started with books. Considering how much I love them, I think that will make going through the rest of this “stuff” seem much easier. I am trying to let go of my sentimental attachment to things of this world and thing how much happier we will be when our home is clean and free of clutter.

I plan on doing some before and after photos, so be looking for them. 🙂

Anyone else do a major downsize/declutter? Want to share some tips?

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