Snakes and Baby Bottles

We are almost in our new house. I hope we don’t have to move again for a long time. While we wait for our new home to be finished we have gone from sleeping at our old house in beds to sleeping at our old house in sleeping bags to staying in an apartment (back in comfortable beds, thank you). We hope to be in our new home in two days. However, the bed situation there may not be much better than sleeping bags again. At least for a few days.

Through out all of these changes, which is so much more than uncomfortable sleeping, I’ve been impressed with the children’s ability to adapt to our situation. One detail that stands out more than others is their imagination when toys became lacking.

The evening of moving day I was exhausted and feeling ready for bed. As I sat down on the floor with my son to a dinner of salami, crackers, and grapes he brought his “snake” to join us. Snake was a measuring tape he had discovered in the tools earlier in the day. Pull out a little of the end and voila, a snake. He even shared his dinner with Snake.

My daughter became interested in some scraps of bubble wrap she found lying around and came up with numerous ways to have fun. Amongst them, she made a baby bottle out of a rolled up piece held together with a rubber band.

I think this is a shining example of how children create play no matter what we provide to them. Toys have their place and children learn and grow from them. But I also think that when all we provide is the world around them, children come up with ideas far greater reaching than any toy with a particular purpose.

Replacing “Too Busy”

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When with my children, I have always made an effort to sparingly use the words we’re too busy or we don’t have time for that. A hurry, we’re late never helps when waiting for them to put their jacket and shoes on while we’re late getting out the door. There are always more activities to do and places to rush and it’s easy to get lost in the mundane. Why does my brain constantly look forward to the next task while trying to accomplish what’s at hand?

So instead of rushing through everything we make an effort every day to try to find beauty in the small and listen to what each other has to say.

I’m struggling with this as of late. While buying a house, selling a house, being pregnant, and starting both my kids in preschool for the year, the words we don’t have time for that and we can’t do that until we move are unfortunately a frequent outlet. And now my almost 5 year old daughter has been saying we never have time for anything anymore! She’s understandably frustrated. I’m not saying these words can’t ever be said but I think it’s important they be used only rarely. In doing so I find that we then make time for what’s really important. This might be a particular art project or taking time out to go to the park or even simply making time to read.

At moments like these I find it helpful to go back to a story Joshua Becker told in one of his books. He tells of an old saying that keeps you in the moment. No matter what you are doing, do it and only that task before moving on to the next. You do this by stating what you are doing. For example, When I am making dinner, I am making dinner. When I am reading with my children, I am reading with my children. When I am talking on the phone, I am talking on the phone. At first this sounds silly to say but it helped me realize how often my brain was thinking of other things while my body was doing something else.

With my family and our recent busyness, I’ve translated this to Let’s finish what we are doing now and we’ll see if we have time for that later. This is my way around we’re too busy or we don’t have time for that. It’s a different way to approach the problem and rather than focusing on the loss of time, it allows for possibility. Who knows. Maybe we will find the time.

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Project 333 at 33. My first attempt at a capsule wardrobe.

Welcome back to Going On Growing. It’s been a while.

I have been taking some time to focus on family but am coming back because I have a new project brewing and I wanted to share it with you. In honor of my 33rd birthday this month I’m giving myself the gift of Project 333. Project 333 comes from the blog Be More With Less, authored by minimalist Courtney Carver. I have followed her blog for quite some time now always eyeing Project 333 from afar but not being quite ready to take the challenge. The premise is that your closet consists of only 33 items that you wear on a regular basis. Every 3 months you rotate essential items in and out, such as a warm sweater in place of a summer tank. Rules can be found in the link provided above but main points to know are:

1. This is meant to include clothing you wear when you step out the door to go somewhere (work, friends for drinks, date nights, etc.).

2. Pajamas, lounge wear, workout clothing are not included.

3. Purse, sunglasses, jewelry, other accessories are included.

4. You don’t get rid of everything else you own. Maybe some of it, or a lot of it, but the rest goes in a box. If you get desperate, it’s there to comfort you and let you know everything will be okay.

I’ve been afraid to take the leap because it is so limiting but I know without a doubt that the clutter I’ve cleared out of my life previously has made way for greater things. I’m positive this project will do the same for me.

Here is my closet:

Capsule Wardrobe spring 2014_1

 

Capsule Wardrobe spring 2014)2

I have two challenges to work around. First, I love color. Can’t say I’ve ever seen a capsule wardrobe with so much color. When minimizing this was challenging because I really don’t have a base wardrobe to build upon. However, this is what I’ve been wearing so it must work! Second, shoes were surprisingly difficult to choose and I’m not sure I love what I ended up with. However, my goal was to not spend money to complete my wardrobe so here it is.

My exceptions:

1. I am not including accessories but will still limit them. Because I’m trying not to buy something and because of my color issues excluding these allowed me the flexibility I needed to make this transition. In time I hope to add these into my 33.

  • sunglasses
  • earrings
  • bracelet
  • necklace
  • purse

2. I work one Saturday a month at a hospital. I put on scrubs and my clunky Danskos for this and only this day every month. These are not included.

3. I will attend my brother’s ordination into the Catholic priesthood (equivalent to a wedding) next weekend and for this I’ll wear a fancy dress and shoes not included in here.

Lastly, and my favorite part is that this has helped me see gaps in my wardrobe. I would like to incorporate more skirts, scarves, and belts into future wardrobes. I lack completer items which tend to pull outfits together. For now, my current wardrobe will do.

I’m way more excited about this project than I thought I would be. Here goes nothin’ and thank you Courtney for inspiring me to make yet another change in my life for the better!

Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.

When I’m not repeating this too shall pass to myself as my daughter is smacking her little brother over the head with a box car, simplify has been my mantra of choice. I think my husband might start soliciting neighbors for conversation of another sort if I continue to talk to him about it so I’m taking it to the blog.

A friend recently moved her family of four from her just-far-enough-out-of-town-that-I didn’t-see-her-all-that-often house to a new location right downtown. It is superb. After visiting her in her new digs this week I took an enviable glance at the kids toy room. She and her husband have always seemed to have an understated and in control amount of toys in their house. The kids play with unabashed fervor but when it’s time for clean up it seems to be done within minutes. (I’m guessing she would disagree with me on this one but I’ll go ahead and let her know that’s how it appears.)

I would love for this to be true in our house. And I believe it can be true.

In an interesting twist, the last time I cleaned up the toys the kids haven’t touched them. Six days it’s been. All the toys are sitting along the wall lined up waiting patiently. But right now running back and forth on the couch seems to be entertaining enough. (And dangerously enticing. The one year old has taken to swinging off the back onto the hardwood floor. Be still my beating heart.)

To make matters even more challenging I will admit that many of the children’s toys I love. The Melissa and Doug fruit and vegetables, dress up outfits and accessories, and the large-and-in-charge Green Toys trucks are great. I can’t get rid of those! Don’t even get me started on all the beautiful hand me downs we’ve received from ever so generous family members.

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In addition to my personal vendetta against stuff I’ve been further inspired by a few articles and posts I’ve read and how getting rid of stuff truly enhances the quality of life.

Why I took my kids toys away from the blog Living Well and Spending Less

Zero Waste Home

Becoming Minimalist

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After cleaning out art supplies and books. I still look at this and want it emptier.

I find that I tend to make arbitrary choices in deciding how much stuff I’m willing to keep around. For example, my art supplies needed to fit into the cubbies next to my desk. No more storing extra in the closet or on top of the cabinet. These were just the parameters I set for myself because of the space I had in that room. Arbitrary but in my mind necessary. I have an idea as to the space I will allow for the toys but I know it’s going to be very hard to stick to it.

The bin for toys downstairs.

Toy bin for downstairs.

I’m wondering if you have any further suggestions for how you simplify and then keep it that way. For now, I’ve set a garage sale date as November 23rd. Here goes nothin’.

The Flow of Paint

My mother is a creative being. I don’t mean in the way one’s mom makes ants on a log for a snack or uses a safety pin as a zipper. I mean in a ladybug costume making, Star Wars party throwing, Christmas advent calendar sewing, thank-you card watercoloring, scrapbook compiling, kind of way. She breathes technicolor and dreams in blank canvases.

As you can imagine in my formative years I was exposed to many interesting art projects. Paper making with a sieve, rug weaving, painting furniture, shrink art necklaces, and sewing outfits for teddy, to name a few. Despite the fact that my pores do not seep art like my mother’s, in me she has borne a mind of creativity. I think sometimes my mom believes she failed at teaching me about art because I lack her enviable ambition, her desire to learn new techniques, and take more classes. After all, she has an entire room in her house dedicated to this.

It is true that I possess probably less than 10% of her knowledge but beyond this fact she can be entirely confident that creativity flows within me. Lately however, with two kids to raise art work has been sorely neglected and when I look into my art room my heart is heavy. Colored pencils, paintbrushes, gouache, card stock paper, stickers, albums, it goes on and on. My recent goal of simplifying my life does not run parallel with my collection, plus, each time I attempt to tackle a project I’m paralyzed by the overwhelming possibilities of what to create. What I’m looking at is a complete perpendicular intersection of stagnant stuff and opportunity. One in which I decided I must choose a direction.

I recall a watercolor instructor once stating that she only uses a 1/2” width paintbrush and paints using only Prang watercolors. You know, the kind that kids use in art class. This artist travels all over the country teaching watercolor. Can it really be so simple?

My favorite part about ridding my life of the unessential is that my true passions become revealed. Whether it’s my closet or my kitchen amidst the piles and piles of possessions an unveiling of the soul occurs. When I cleared out my books recently I decided to pick ten which were most important to me and start there. Within the pile were two Spanish books. I haven’t spoken Spanish in years yet I couldn’t let go of either book. I realized the importance of my desire to conquer a second language.

After I finally sat down to clear out my art supplies here’s what I learned:

  1. No one needs 20 different colors of tags to use as embellishments for scrapbooking.
  2. Scrapbooking is not my passion.
  3. 21 coffee stirrers to use as smudging agents are unnecessary.
  4. Markers, pens, and paint, oh my.
  5. My passions are watercolor and calligraphy.

Watercolor and calligraphy supplies are what I preserved in my clean out. This purge has been difficult but at this point in my life my art isn’t as important as doing it with my children. I am thrilled when my daughter asks to paint and her smears of color can be proudly displayed on the refrigerator. My own art will come. That blood does not cease to flow it just changes direction.

I hope to pass on to my children at least a fraction of what my mother taught me and I pray that the paint between my fingers lasts into my years of wrinkled smiles and age spotted hands.

Thanks Mom.

Today’s Wormhole

Nerve gas expelled lives of innocent Syrian children. Will we intervene?

Scandal in DC. What today? Politicians cheating on their wives, a country that denies it’s citizens healthcare, or greed in unmentionable forms.

Ariel Castro has hung himself in jail. I hope to never hear his name again. I hope his victims sleep well tonight. For the rest of their lives.

A mother in Idaho tortured, murdered, and burned the body of her 2-year-old. Jail cell and cold floors are her future.

Friends are exercising at a nearby park, babies in their strollers watching the work of their heroes.

Rain falling from the sky on this fall day, thunder in the distance, clouds turn the sunny day to gray.

Blinds blown open from the wind. Bang, bang on the windowsill. I awake from my sloppy slumber.

Baby’s head resting on my arm, my cheek wraps his forehead, his sweat on my face, his hair tickles my nose.

The curve of his tiny shoulder,

his hand upon my arm,

breath that smells of honey,

rising and falling of his chest,

soft relaxed face, eye lids closed;

as sweet as the falling rain upon a rose bud.

 

Simplifying: The Makeup Drawer

A few weeks ago as I reached for my nail file in my makeup drawer I noticed old nail clippings scattered about. My face froze, then my eyes got big, and then my mouth crinkled up in disgust. I decided it was time to clean out the makeup drawers. My makeup is kept in a small square box on the counter. It’s embarrassingly old and looks like something a teenager should have in their bathroom. Plastic and purple. But I’ve never found another container the same size to replace it. There are three drawers and it fits perfectly in the space I have. I consider it a modest cabinet but there were many things I haven’t used for quite a while so out all the makeup came.

As I stood there staring at it all on the bathroom counter I kept in mind my recent mission to simplify my life. An eye liner here and an out of style eye shadow there and soon I had a much more manageable makeup collection on my hands. And it was so easy. The entire project took me thirty minutes. I now have three lipsticks in my makeup drawer. Actually, one lipstick, one lip gloss, and a chap stick. I’ve never had so few lip accessories since I was in middle school and started collecting.

It’s the small things that all add up to the great big picture.