Summer Conspiracy

throne

Haven’t been here much. Summer (and a broken camera) have conspired against me. Well, mostly summer. I just can’t seem to talk myself into sitting at this computer. I figure that’s bound to get worse when the beans are ready to can.  And I think I’m okay with that, I really am. As my husband would say, there’s so much going on in real life (irl).

Good stuff. And I find myself committing over and over–day by day–to be present in it. To slow down and take it in fully, not half halfheartedly from the corner of my eye while I type or check Facebook.

Cause summer is full…

  • lazy afternoons playing lifeguard while my kids swim
  • tending the garden and herb beds
  • picking flowers for inside
  • watching the family of ducks that have taken residence here
  • home improvement projects indoors and out
  • lots of meals outside
  • long evening walks
  • kids’ sleepovers and playdates

Of course there’s lots more. (Plus all the laundry and dirt that all that fun makes.)

So I guess this is my “excuse” post. But really, I don’t need an excuse. None of us do. Because it’s good to remember to keep the right balance. To not exchange “good” for what’s really best for our time. I don’t want this expensive box of plastic and circuits to be my master.

Cause I’m gonna enjoy my summer!

What summer fun is going on in your life?

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Inspired to Simplify

sods

This past weekend, my family spent 3 days camping in the mountains of WV. Canaan Valley, Blackwater Falls, Dolly Sods. I have a few stories to share later on, but there is something about a few days spent unplugged, in nature, that makes me think a bit. It’s like all the cobwebs and noise and stress that clutter my mind all melt off. And I can see a little more clearly.

For us, camping is in itself an exercise of freedom and simplicity. We tent camp. We cook over the fire or a little propane stove. We pack 5 plates, 5 metal cups, 1 pan and one pot. Dishes are washed up quickly in a tub of water warmed over the stove while we eat, ready to use for the next meal. Coffee (the best coffee I’ve had in a while) is brewed in a French Press–no coffee pot beeping at us. And we brew tea in the sun while we hike.

There are few clothes and fewer shoes. A couple of games and books during down time. We talk. We play boccie ball. We go for walks.

I find myself resisting the return to reality.

Not that my reality is in any way bad. But it is hurried sometimes. It is full of stuff. Stuff I have to organize and clean and maintain. And clean some more. Stuff that costs money to buy and eventually replace. We may not notice it, but all our stuff easily becomes a thief that robs our time and energy and resources.

I think about that little campsite and the few things we brought. I didn’t miss anything. And then I think about this spacious house and garage that’s full of STUFF. How half the time, I can find the stuff I’m looking for. And I know something’s gotta give–or better still, GO.

Oh, the all-or-nothing side of me would like to mercilessly tear through the house and eliminate great piles of it. But I’ve got kids. And the kids come with lots of things, it seems. They’re busy with it all the time. And I’m not going to be the great purging ogre. I have encouraged them, little by little to go through their things and see what they love, what they need and what can go. It’s a process.

But then there’s me. I took a look at my closet. Too many items that barely (if ever) see the light of day. So a couple of large bags are headed for donation. I’ve got 3 or 4 skillets that do basically the same thing. Saving the beloved cast iron, sending the rest out the door. And I think it’s time to let go of some jewelry, some dishes, some knickknacks and decorations (not that I have too many of those to begin with).

And on the flip side, the getting side of things, it’s time to begin asking, “Does this add to our lives? Is it a need? Or is it just a trifle that eats up our money and then takes up space?” We already do some serious thinking about the bigger purchases, but it seems that those little pieces of clutter and junk converge on the house in the most stealthy way. And I’m ready to put a stop to it.

I want to get creative when we have a need instead of spending and consuming. I want to enjoy open spaces and simple surroundings. I’m ready to live with significantly less so I can live a little more. 

So share with me…

What do you do to simplify your life?


The Mother of All Yard Sales

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog lately. And not without good reason. Last week, my family hosted a yard sale. But this isn’t just any yard sale. Nope. This is the mother of  all yard sales.

Every May, right after Mother’s Day, the insanity begins. It takes a full week to set everything up. The whole shindig takes place at my in-laws. It’s our family’s stuff, their stuff, the neighbors’ stuff, and my brothers and sister-in-law’s stuff. But wait, there’s more. They also sell of anything that people  leave behind when they move out of a house–with full permission to do whatever they want with it. And we also had quite a few pieces of donated furniture whose proceeds were to go to a children’s cancer research fund.

It was a LOT of stuff. The pictures don’t do it justice. Plus all the furniture was across the street in the neighbor’s driveway.

yardsale2

 

As usual, the weather was less than cooperative for the majority of the week. But the sale must go on. So my husband constructs what he refers to as “Little Haiti.” (Please don’t misconstrue that as a derogatory label. He actually was in Haiti. So I guess he would know.)

Tarps, tarps and more tarps. So folks can shop, rain or shine.

yardsale4

 

And rain it did. On Thursday, hubby spent all his time adjusting tarps, re-sinking tent pegs, and tightening ropes.

 

yardsale6

 

The kids were troopers. They unpacked glassware, manned their bake sale, counted out change and otherwise fine tuned all their hard earned yard sale skills.

 

yardsale1

 

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yardsale3

 

We got rid of a lot. And we may have found a few new treasures. I’m sure Ella can’t live without her new specs.

 

ellayardsale

 

It seems every year, we find more items we just don’t need, and we’re happy to pass it on to someone else. A little extra cash and a little more closet space. A lot of exhausting, hard work. But worth it!


The Great Post Christmas Clean Out

christmas clean out

It seems that every year, it has become a tradition for us to do a little purging around the holidays. I like to encourage my kids to go through their belongings every now and then and see if there is anything we can give away or put into a yard sale. And especially at Christmas time, my advice is for every new thing you get, see if you can find one item to part with.

Cause we don’t NEED tons of stuff piling up around here. There’s only so many square feet to go around. I like to keep things as simple as possible, and I firmly believe that the more belongings a child has, the harder it is for them to care for their stuff and space.

So we set to work after the holidays giving my youngest’s room and closet a bit of a makeover. Brace yourself. This is ugly.

before cleaning

Please let me clarify that this wasn’t what her room looked like in the beginning of the process. This is about mid way. We went through shoes and toys and shelves. We moved things around and started a box to donate. Being that she’s the youngest, she has inherited lots of her sister’s things and since she’s on the little side, we are also often blessed with clothing/shoes her friend has outgrown.

I went to the store and selected a few items to make organizing easier. Shoe organizer, little drawers for hair things. It wasn’t much, but it made a big difference.

shoe rack

hair drawers

I picked up a few Command Hooks at the store and a mesh laundry sack so we could get her hamper up off the floor and free up a little more space. (For the growing baby doll collection)

The back of the door works great right now.

laundry

Little by little, I’ve been adding to the donation box from other places in the house. There are a couple other closets in the house that could use some help, too. Perfect family activity for a cold winter afternoon!

How do you organize all those new Christmas toys?