Ponderings

The Core of Minimalism

Every time I move, which comes around more frequently than I like, I get overwhelmed by the amount of stuff we have. Subconsciously, I think I blame my husband. “He has so much stuff!” “Why doesn’t he go through his stuff?” and so on. However, I can’t force him down the path about minimalism. Honestly, he doesn’t really have that much stuff. I just like to think he does because most of it sits in the same boxes and totes from one move to the next. I reach a point where I just don’t want to go through any more of my stuff and start to concentrate on other things in our home, namely: his stuff.

I will admit, my husband does desire a simple, minimalist life. He just goes about it at his own pace and in his own unique way. When we do move, I will ask him to go through a box or two at a time, and he does it in a good-natured way. He doesn’t want to get rid of much because as we move, our needs change. I think he wants to wait on purging a lot of his electronic stuff until we move into our first house.

Since I do the organizing and the decorating in our home, I tend to want to display and use my things while some of my husband’s awesome things stay packed away in boxes.For example, my husband is a talented musician. Yet, his instruments usually end up shoved in a spare closet somewhere (although, this has become somewhat of a necessity since our son now gets into everything). This means my husband spends much less of his spare time playing his instruments, even though I want him to play music for our son.

Part of minimalism is to get rid of the things I don’t need so I can make room for the things my family uses. This means limiting the books I buy to ones I intend to read multiple times throughout my life and checking out books I only intend to read once or twice from the library. Minimalism to me also means limiting the number of knick knacks I have so I have room to display my husband’s records and the games we play with friends. It also means limiting the toys I buy for my son so he doesn’t become overwhelmed by his choices and refuse to play at all. Overall, minimalism to me means limiting the stuff I buy so we have room and money to create experiences with our family and friends.

What does minimalism mean to you?

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Simple Living: We Moved!

My little family lived in our tiny apartment for 13 months. While we had many great experiences in and enjoyed our little apartment, we felt the need to move into a place where our son could have his own room. My husband and I needed to have our own child-free space where we could spend some time together. We also missed inviting lots of friends over. It our little space, it quickly felt cramped if we invited more than two friends over. When our little one started crawling and pulling up, we didn’t have a place to play board games anymore.

Earlier this month, we switched apartments with our neighbors and now live in a spacious two bedroom apartment. I think we have more breathing room. With the larger space, we have to be more conscious about purchasing stuff to fill the extra space. I purged some things before we moved, including some mementos I didn’t really need. The past couple of weeks, I have started reading more about minimalism to help keep me focused on the lifestyle I want. I continue to go through my stuff and my son’s stuff as he grows out of it. It feels freeing to have all of my scrapbooking stuff in one drawer, my sewing stuff on one shelf, my childhood mementos in one tote, etc.

Some blogs and vlogs I enjoy recently include:

Thanks for reading!

P.S. Happy World Turtle Day!

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Six-ish Months of Parenthood

P1060211I have survived the first six months and then some of parenthood. I have lost more sleep than I ever imagined, changed thousands of diapers, and done so much laundry. However, I wouldn’t give up my time with my boy for anything in this world.

My hubby and I have been pleasantly surprised with how well our little apartment has worked for us these past months. We may feel a little more closed in when our son starts crawling everywhere and getting into everything. For now, we enjoy living close to our church and his work. I hope to share some posts soon of projects I have made these past few months.

Enjoy your February!

 

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How We Saved Money On Baby

P1060122Well, my husband and I have survived the first three months of parenthood. We have made it through sleepless nights, hundreds (if not thousands!) of diaper changes, and the challenges the first few months of parenting brings. I have to say, this journey became easier when my son learned to smile. It reassures me when I feel like I do everything wrong and gives me strength to keep going through the haze of sleep deprivation.

Now I have said all of that, I want to use this post to share with others how we have managed to save money with this baby. I realize some of these tips won’t work for everyone, but I hope my readers can glean some useful information from my ramblings. Without further ado, enjoy my list!

1. Start early! Even before my husband and I tried to conceive, we started buying things here and there for our future family, such as extra shelving, children’s books, and our rocking chair.

2. Accept hand-me-downs. Honestly, this has probably saved us the most money. Fortunately for us, we have several friends who have already started families and want to pass along items their children don’t use anymore. I will say, however, to always get a car seat new.

3. Borrow bulky baby items. This goes along with #2. We borrowed items we knew we didn’t/won’t need for very long, such as a nursing pillow and swing. Many people offered to loan us baby gear, so we could choose what we liked and what works for our tiny space.

4. Shop at thrift stores. We managed to score a solid, wooden rocking chair for $30 at a thrift store several months before we even conceived a child. We knew we wanted children in the future and decided to take advantage of an awesome deal.

5. Take advantage of Goodwill’s 50% off Saturdays and 25% Wednesdays. Goodwill has 50% off at least one Saturday each month and 25% off every Wednesday. I have scored several baby items in great condition for only $1 each, including a SwaddleMe blanket. Children’s books are regularly priced at $0.75, and toy range in price from $0.50-$2 on a regular day.

6. Shop at garage sales. People accumulate a ton of stuff when they have babies. Sometimes, babies will grow out of items in only a few weeks. Or, they enter the world too large for the newborn-sized clothing. This leads to people wanting to purge a bunch of things, often in like-new condition, for cheap. By shopping at garage sales and other second-hand places, I have yet to spend more than $2 on an article of clothing for my baby.

7. Find out about local sales for parents. A few towns around me have market days with just children’s items. My town in particular has a sale twice each year (spring and fall). Volunteers carefully screen clothing for stains, working items (like swings) which take batteries, and other baby gear. This provides a way for parents to easily get rid of things their children have outgrown, while still making some money, and a safe place to buy baby gear second-hand.

8. Get crafty! Even before I became pregnant, I learned how to make stuffed animals, hats, blankets, and other items a baby could want. I have also learned how to make even more things since my son arrived (teething toys, anyone?). Why pay $10-20 for a brand new hat when I can pay $1.50 for a skein of yarn and make a hat and a toy?

9. Accept the generosity of others. Not everyone has the blessing of a baby shower, and we had three. This has saved us a ton of money. People have even given us so much, even after our baby’s arrival. I feel truly blessed.

What about you? Any money-saving tips for new parents? Feel free to comment.

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The Best Laid Plans of Mice . . .

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My not-so-little boy finally made his appearance in this world a week ago today, 15 days after his due date. The last five weeks really tested my patience as I saw one friend enjoy her baby (born one week early) and another have her baby (one day overdue). I anxiously wanted my turn to come. Once I hit full-term at 37 weeks I could not wait to meet my baby and start to get to know the little person my husband and I had created. Everyone I knew also started constantly checking in with me for updates. With nothing to report, I became frustrated with the waiting. My midwife finally decided to have me induced at 42 weeks.

After weeks of waiting and changed plans, I could not wait to get to the hospital last week. I originally planned on a natural delivery at the birth center (not hospital). At 36 weeks, my insurance coverage changed to prevent me from using the birth center. I did not want to have induced labor, but changed my mind as the 42 week mark approached. Once my labor started, I started to re-think my desire to labor without medication. I eventually had an epidural due to back labor.

My baby started showing signs of distress during my contractions. After two hours of pushing with no progress, the midwife suggested a cesarean delivery. At this point, I had been in the hospital for almost 24 hours and agreed to the c-section. I found out after delivery my baby had gotten stuck in a face-up position and had the chord wrapped around his neck, making a vaginal delivery almost impossible. This information has helped me cope with the changes to my plans.

Now, I feel glad to have my not-so-little guy home. We have no routine yet, but he sleeps more at night than during the day. Without further ado, here are his birth stats:

  • Date: August 1, 2014
  • Time: 8:08 a.m.
  • Weight: 9 lb, 12 oz
  • Length: 23.25 inches

My husband’s birth announcement: Baby Boy Marshall “was born this morning at 8:08 EDT. 9 pounds, 12 ounces of pure manliness have been unleashed on the world. If the size of his head is any indication of intelligence, he will master 11 dimensional physics before his third birthday. He may have also caused a scalpel to momentarily levitate, but those rumors are entirely baseless and not to be believed.

“He was forcibly removed from his mother via c-section at two weeks overdue. The doctors found and confiscated the reason for the delay, an unfinished multi-volume manifesto for world domination.

“Those who wish to come and cower in fear before their new leader may do so at some point in the near future, probably tomorrow. For right now, we all need our sleep.”

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Simple Living: Small Space Update

My husband and I have now lived two months in our new space. I have 28 days left until our baby’s due date. Putting away the shower gifts posed a new challenge in our small space. While I have a few items stashed in the crib to put away and the stroller to assemble, I believe we have a good system for the baby with which to start. Some ways I have made the small space work for our growing family:

  1.  Replacing our microwave and toaster with a toaster oven to free up some counter space.
  2. Our tiny dining table doubles as hubby’s desk.
  3. Bins under the crib to store extra diapers, clothes, etc. the baby won’t need for a few months.
  4. Hooks, organizers, towel racks over the doors for extra storage (we have our baby tub hanging from a hook on our bathroom door, our diaper bag and baby carrier hanging from an over-the-door coat rack, and plan to use an over-the-door towel rack to hold blankets)
  5. Putting our dressers in the master closet allows us to have enough space in our room for a full-sized crib, a rocking chair, a queen-sized bed, and other furniture.

While our small space does limit the amount of entertaining we do, my husband and I still enjoy our space. We do not feel cramped (most of the time) and feel happy with the number of items we have in our space. I even had three of my pregnant friends over for a girls’ afternoon without any issues.

Some bloggers have inspired us to go on this journey of living in a small space with fewer items. They include:

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Simple Living: 100 Things Update

I know this update on our 100 Things Challenge comes a few days late, but we do not have internet set up at our new place. However, I can say we more than met our goal! In the chaos of moving, I lost track of the items I put in the Goodwill donation box. My husband and I still managed to record more than 100 things we sold, donated, recycled (electronics), or just threw away. We made $130 from items we sold, and we hope to sell a few more things in the near future. About half of the items on our list we donated to Goodwill. We gave away almost a third of the items on our list to friends. Very few items on our list ended up in the trash, while we recycled several broken electronics. Overall, our tiny new space works efficiently since we managed to purge so many items from our lives.

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Simple Living: 100 Things Challenge

This week, my husband and I made the decision to move into an apartment with about 550 square feet of space. With medical bills and school loans to pay, we can only afford the tiny 1 bedroom apartment, but we have several positive things to say about the location. However, the small space will definitely challenge us, especially once the baby arrives. We decided to see this as an opportunity to challenge ourselves to live a more minimalistic lifestyle over the next year. I came up with our first task on Wednesday, which I will call the “100 Things Challenge.”

Some of my readers have probably heard of Dave Bruno. A few years back, he decided to challenge himself to live for a year with only 100 personal items in the pursuit of simple living. For more information about his challenge, watch this Youtube video. While my husband and I don’t feel quite up to the challenge of living with only 100 personal items, we have come up with our own challenge: get rid of 100 items by May 1st. By get rid of, I mean sell, donate, give away, recycle, or throw away (as a last resort) items as we pack up and move into our new place.

I happily report, I sold a chair to one of my housemates this morning. Our first item: gone 🙂

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Facebook Trends: Books Impacting Life

The summer before I started college, I finally gave in to societal pressure and joined Facebook. I accepted any friend request from people who went to my high school or would go to my college, filled out every note about yourself trend, accepted every game request, and pretty much experienced everything Facebook had to offer. Remember bumper stickers and flair? I had hundreds of those.

Eventually, as college classes became harder and I started to settle on a group of friends, my Facebook activity died down. I deleted “friends” I had never spoken to on campus. I stopped writing notes and statuses with trivia about myself as it came to the point where I got no likes or comments. I stopped playing online games and started playing board games with my friends. Basically, I became a real friend, instead of a virtual one.

My Facebook friends have passed around this “Books That Have Touched Your Life” thing for the past few weeks. I finally got tagged today by one of my friends. Normally, I would not bother to write it out, no matter how many people tag me. However, I cannot resist the opportunity to recommend books. I present to my readers, my list:

  1. A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare. The first of Shakespeare’s comedies I read. It taught me Shakespeare doesn’t kill everyone off in his plays.
  2. Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix. The first retelling of a fairy tale I came across where the “princess” completely takes charge of her “destiny”. She also wants people to see more in her than just beauty and appreciate her intelligence and resourcefulness.
  3.  Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti by Bill and Pam Farrel. This book first explained the difference in how the minds of men and women work differently in a way I could understand.
  4. Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey. I have mixed feelings on Dave Ramsey and his methods, but my husband and I have definitely benefitted from his class. He has good advice on how to prioritize money.
  5. Astronomy and the Bible by Don DeYoung. This book and the first class I took with Dr. DeYoung helped me think beyond the scientific theories I had been taught as fact in public school. This helped me make science mesh with my faith more easily.
  6. The Magic of Ordinary Days by Ann Howard Creel. I saw the movie before I knew about the book, but both helped me realize the everyday things make up the best love story.
  7. Ralph S. Mouse by Beverly Cleary. I read the books about this mouse as I transitioned from a normal student to an advanced student in the 5th grade. They gave me something familiar as I transferred to a different English class in the middle of the school year.
  8. Moby Dog and other Adventures of Wishbone books. Wishbone helped give me an appreciation for the classics in elementary school. Moby Dog is the first chapter book I remember reading to my dad.
  9. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. The first book I read where I imagined additional adventures for the characters. Also, the first book I have read until the spine has almost fallen apart.
  10. Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes. The first book I had to read for school I actually liked.

I didn’t write my list in any particular order. This list contains both fiction an non-fiction with a variety of genres/topics for both. Let me know if any of you have read these books and how they have impacted you.

A photo of most of the books. Sadly, I do not have a copy of Moby Dog as I loaned it out to someone who never returned it. I substituted a different Wishbone book. I also do not have a copy of Johnny Tremain.

A photo of most of the books. Sadly, I do not have a copy of Moby Dog as I loaned it out to someone who never returned it. I substituted a different Wishbone book. I also do not have a copy of Johnny Tremain.

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Thanksgiving Without the Trimmings

Most families have at least a few traditions they like to participate in for the Thanksgiving season. Some watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Some have unusual dishes they serve every year. Some put up the Christmas tree or go shopping the day after Thanksgiving.

In my family, we usually get at least one game of Euchre going as practice for the traditional Christmas tournament. My Nana (grandmother) and I try to beat my grandfather every chance we get. I have yet to figure out if my husband’s family has any Thanksgiving traditions. For the past three years, we have spent the holiday with his family, and they have celebrated it differently each year.

One year, they had the traditional turkey and trimmings. The next year, they went to a restaurant. Last year, everyone brought a different type of soup. This year, I do not know what they will do because my husband and I decided to stay home this year.

I have felt sick for the past 2-3 weeks with a nausea so bad, I considered myself lucky if I managed to walk to the mailbox and back. While I have improved over the past few days, we decided to skip the four hour drive to see his family.

This year, we will share a small meal with two of our housemates. My husband and I live in a huge house with another married couple and two single guys. While this may seem strange to most, we each have our own space (for the most part) and have cheap rent. This is our second year in the same place with the same people. The other married couple went to visit family for the holiday, but the guys did not really have anywhere else to go.

So, we will have roasted duck and a few sides. This year, we will celebrate Thanksgiving without most of the trimmings. We will not have stuffing, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, or many other traditional dishes. But, we will have a delicious bird, mashed potatoes, gravy, and dessert. Best of all, we will share our last-minute plans with two great friends.

Happy Holidays!

Photo of my hubby I managed to snap during our first snow yesterday.

Photo of my hubby I managed to snap during our first snow yesterday.

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