Archive for the ‘Simplicity’ Category

Swimming Lessons and Simplicity

Every Christmas for the past several years, my mother-in-law has given my kids swimming lessons for their Christmas present–and then she picks them up and brings them once a week for the next eight weeks.  This is a great idea for several reasons…

  • We don’t want our kids to associate Christmas with a lot of presents
  • We don’t need any more toys in our house
  • The kids are learning a valuable skill, and it counts as Phy Ed
  • I get a quiet morning once a week in January and February (this is the best one!):) happy

So each year I usually work on a big project on these quiet Thursday mornings, such as painting.  But this year, I’ve been decluttering, mostly because I don’t want to paint with my three-year-old around!  (He was still taking a morning nap last year.)  This morning, in addition to doing general decluttering in my bedroom, I went through a whole box of stuff in the storage room that we haven’t even looked at since we moved–six year ago!  Now I have room on my storage shelf for a box that’s been sitting in my bedroom for six months (cloth diapers–and I’m saving them for now; maybe one of my kids will want to use cloth diapers for their babies!)

Final Thought:
I’ve been doing much better at decluttering as I go (and you can get a LOT done in five minutes, as it turns out), but in order to tackle the “laziness” (or busy-ness) of the last fifteen years, it’s nice to have some chunks of time.  So I’ve decided that even after swimming lessons are over:( sad, I’m going to spend part of every Friday (a lighter school day) going through at least one box!  I don’t want to leave a huge mess for Scott and the kids when I die!  (Nor do I want to look at it for that long!)

I’m always inspired by images of simple homes, like this one…if one or two people can live in a house this tiny, then maybe my nine-person-family could live just a little bit like this–in a bigger house!  (Although the owner of the house in this image obviously doesn’t homeschool!)

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Simplicity, Clothes and Aprons

I just made a new denim skirt for myself because my current one is getting very faded and worn-looking.  This has gotten me thinking about my fall & winter season, at-home wardrobe, which I love because it is so simple!

For several years now, I’ve had a rule that I only buy what will go with black shoes and nylons.  So almost every day (remember, I stay at home), I wear a dark skirt, a turtleneck (I have lots of colors—although white is my favorite), and a full-length (full-body) apron—the old-fashioned kind.  Even my hair clips and headbands are black, since I’m always wearing black shoes!

It is so simple, AND I get to pretend I’m old-fashioned!  I’m sure everyone who comes to my door thinks I’m crazy, but I don’t care!  My next project needs to be another apron, because I go through them pretty quickly, and my November/Thanksgiving apron is beginning to fall apart!

Here’s an apron pattern I used a few years ago, and I loved it so much, I wore it out!

And below is the pattern I’d like to use to make aprons for my two daughters…

We’re in the WORSE-BEFORE-IT-GETS-BETTER phase!

Well, I’ve gone and gotten my kids all excited about “emptying” the house before our trip.  To their credit, they helped get rid of A LOT of stuff today, and two of them even continued organizing what is left of their own personal things.  And this is after getting rid of 14 grocery bags of give-away stuff this morning.  I should have counted the sacks for garbage, too…I do know that we’re almost out of grocery sacks now (and we bring home at least ten every week!)

BUT…we don’t have everything put back after emptying and rearranging a few dressers and shelves.  We actually got rid of TWO dressers in the last two days (that were not empty), but what’s left from them either needs to be gone through or put in a place that is still cluttered, as in, too full!  So it’s not looking great around here.  I think I said to my kids at least three times today, “No free time until this place won’t give Dad a heart attack when he comes home!” 

“So,” you ask, “why are you on the computer?”  Because my legs hurt and I need a break!  (It IS fun, though, and my reward for finishing will be painting the living room!)

A “Super Simple Month”

Maybe August is going to be my “Super Simple Month.”  I read the following today on a blog called “unclutterer” that I read every so often, as this blog sometimes pertains to my life; sometimes doesn’t.  Here’s an excerpt from this last April, the author’s”Super Simple Month.”

“To me, a Super Simple Month is defined as no travel for work, one social engagement a week or less, no shopping except for necessities, and no new large projects (craft, writing, organizations, etc.). The goal is to finish some items already in progress on my to-list, relax as much as I can with my family, and be as low-key as possible.”  Read more here.

This sounds great, but it can’t be July, as I’ve committed to working as hard as I can to declutter my house!  And since we homeschool year-round (except for this week, since I’m learning the art of decluttering as I go), August is not a big get-ready-for-school month.  (In fact, I’ve already promoted my kids to the next grade level, and they’ve already started some new books.) 

Also, one reason I hate coming back from a vacation is because I have to come back to a house full of clutter that is constantly whispering to me that I’m a failure–a failure to deal with all the stuff!  (But my emotions don’t differentiate between being a failure in a specific area and being a failure in general!)  So…(here’s something I just thought of this week), I’ve decided that I really need to declutter my house before we go up to the North Shore (of Lake Superior) this August.  Maybe I’ll actually look forward to coming home to a neat, simple, serene environment!  (I’d better seriously get busy!)

When “Simple Diligence” Doesn’t Seem Like Enough

One of my philosophies is that I need to be diligent with the important, eternal things in life, especially since I am influencing seven people of the next generation.  This often means spending time on things that don’t seem to have an immediate effect, such as Bible reading, learning verses and catechisms, and discussing, in general, things of eternity.  (And these things certainly are not valued by the general population and would not be considered “productive” as in, there’s not a lot to show for my work at the end of the day.)

Although I believe this is a good use of my time, there are times when I feel like being diligent all day is keeping me from being “productive” at all!  Like, when do I clean out my closet?  When do I go through all my homeschooling stuff?  When do I simplify my home by decluttering the storage room?  While I am basically keeping up with the main household chores, I am NOT keeping up with the simplifying aspects of home management. 

So I’m going to try an experiment.  Since I am so routine, I am going to try to focus on my walk-in closet for just five minutes a day.  I don’t know if this is really possible (to find five minutes and then just work on it for just five minutes), but I’m going to try it for the month of July and see what it looks like at the end of the month.  I’d better get going!  It’s so terrible, I can’t even post a before-picture!

Well, I’m back.  It’s amazing what you can get done in 5 minutes!  I threw away three pairs of shoes and straightened the rest, hung up some dresses, put others in the laundry, and brought one baby-item down to the storage room.  I had to tell myself that I did NOT need to wait until I found ALL of the baby items before I made the trip downstairs!

Is Simplicity Just Having “A Place for Everything . . . “?

I’m thinking about SIMPLICITY again, and got to thinking this morning that one of the reasons my life does not seem simple is because I have “reminders” of the MISCELLANEOUS TASKS that I need to do surrounding me all the time!  I have mile-long lists, and lots of piles of things that were put there ON PURPOSE–BY ME to “remind” myself that it needs attention.  How dumb is that? 

My first thought was, I don’t just need “a PLACE for everything…” mantra, I need “a TIME for everything” mantra.  In other words, I need a specific TIME when I deal with certain tasks, and then organize the reminders for those tasks in such a way that they are HIDDEN until the proper TIME.  But what does it mean to HIDE the reminder?  Put it in a file folder, which is a PLACE! 

So I DO need a place for everything.  I’ve been doing this a little bit already, but I’ve decided to write all these miscellaneous tasks that come up on scratch paper (one per paper)* and put them in my “today” folder–not to be looked at until I’m sitting down to do paper work.  Then, I’ll put them in the order of urgency and work on one at a time.  Whatever doesn’t get done gets put back in the folder for the next day.  After all, that’s how I operated as a church secretary many years ago; it might work for a large family, too!

Now many of my “reminders” are three-dimensional PIECES OF CLUTTER on my kitchen counter, like the old-fashioned film that has to be developed (I have no idea WHERE, so it’s not likely to get done soon!)  So instead of looking at that dusty film and feeling guilty for the next month or year, I’m going to write DEVELOP FILM on a piece of paper (along with where I put it!), and maybe eventually that will be the only thing left in my folder!  🙂  (And at least I’ll only feel guilty once a day, instead of multiple times a day!)

*Note:  Long lists stress me out, especially when I know there’s no chance of finishing it AND most of the tasks are boring and/or difficult!

Any more ideas/thoughts?

Vacation, Farmer Boy, and Re-entering “Real Life”

We just got back yesterday after staying at a cabin near Yellowstone National Park.  After living a “simple” life for eight days, it’s hard to enter real life again; a life that is not as simple as making meals and visiting National Monuments!  To make matters worse, we listened to Farmer Boy on the way home, and the simple life (the Wilder’s life) and my life seemed even more far apart.  I began to make resolutions in the van like…

  • I am going to hang up all my laundry
  • I am going to make my own soap and candles
  • I’m going to plant a bigger garden next year
  • We’re going to eat only healthy and homemade food again
  • I’m going to use electricity as little as possible (except for air-conditioning!)
  • I’m going to wear a “uniform” like the Amish so I don’t have to think about what to wear

I so long for a simple life, but alas, it’s not to be, at least not right now with seven homeschooled kids!  (Maybe next week, after I add all the above to my schedule!)  But seriously, Mrs. Wilder’s life was filled with daily, weekly, and yearly tasks that seem so wholesome and tradition-building.  She had no heaps of paper on her desk or emails to keep up with that took her away from her family.  And neither were her children supposed to be educated according to some government standard.  Almanzo often stayed home from school when there was “something more important” to do.  (Really?  More important than school?)

Sometimes I think I’d like to spend the whole day doing one thing, like white-washing the cellar, rather than the 100 little things that I feel like I have to do.  Simplicity is one of my favorite topics to research and read about, but I fear that achieving it is an uphill battle in our society, AND I always have to guard against it becoming an idol.  I can easily become dissatisfied and even angry at my non-simple life.  For now, I will try to remember that …

“the effect of righteousness [not simplicity] will be peace,
and the result of righteousness will be quietness and trust forever.”  (Isaiah 32:17)

And that’s what we really want, right?