a year later and a tinier wardrobe

We’ve been serious at this minimalist thing for two years now. Every so often I reflect on how far we’ve come and yet I wonder how much further we can go. Once amazed that two adults could comfortably share a 36 inch closet and twelve drawer dresser, we’ve downsized to 18 inches of hanging space on the back of a door, 4 drawers, and a small leather duffel to hold off season items. Not even a formal closet, just the small entryway to our bedroom. 

Will we go lower? I’m sure. Our perspectives change, our needs shrink, our desire for less grows. We don’t have a concrete end goal, just a strong desire to live lightly on the environment. The more we experience and learn, the more we will change. Maybe next year we will be living out of suitcases. 

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road trips and nostalgia 

Some of my fondest childhood memories are day trips with my parents. We would set out with a specific destination in mind, but we always found extra things to do along the way. Meals were often picnics or fast food, nothing extravagant, but the adventure and anticipation of the day was amazing. It is a tradition I want to bring to my family. We have so much beautiful country within 2-3 hours of our house, I want Rhys to know that and to grow up exploring with us. I want him to appreciate how much fun and adventure can be had without spending a fortune. 


Saturday we set out on our first trip. We packed our day bags and headed two hours northwest to a wildlife reserve. It was the perfect setting for a two year old. Lots of animals to see, but the park was small enough to be thoroughly enjoyed in 3-4 hours. Just the drive was a highlight for Matt and I. Our everyday lives exist within a pretty small radius from home, so we’re always excited to leave our bubble. Remembering that we live less than an hour from snowcapped mountains? Amazing. I also discovered a new joy – watching my child explore an unfamiliar place and watching the delight he experienced. This is the rewarding side of parenting. This is what we get when we slow down life and live intentionally.

return

I never meant to abandon this corner of the Internet. I intended to continue documenting our journey with simplicity – changes in our house, transitioning careers, our family life – but March hit hard and we scrambled to just survive. We recovered, but my habit of writing sadly did not get priority in our new normal.

I just wrapped up my first school year… 5 hours and 49 minutes ago, actually. I am excited to welcome summer break, to relearn how to rest deeply. And hopefully to share more here as our family continues to write the story of simple life.

Two!

Two years ago I was laying in a hospital bed with monitors strapped to my belly listening to the rhythmic thump thump thump of our little’s heartbeat. Another machine registered frequent contractions though I barely felt them. I begged for distractions, for friends to visit, anything to keep my mind focused on the positive.

Our plans had veered wildly at the last minute from a planned home birth to an induced hospital birth. The day before we discovered that while conditions in my uterus weren’t horrible, they also weren’t great and it would be better for our baby boy to come sooner than later. Our midwives supported and encouraged us through that difficult decision and while I may always have lingering questions – what if…? – I find solace in the outcome.

At 10:46pm on February 28th we heard the sweetest cry. Our baby boy was here. Safe. Healthy.

And today? He is an awesome, energetic two year old. He is obsessed with building and mechanics, he loves stories and songs. “Outdoors?” is his favourite place to be.

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Our lives have changed immensely because of him. There have been challenges (who wants to join me on the My Baby Hates Sleep Bench? Or the My Toddler has Food Allergies Bench?), but there have been incredible rewards. He is sweet and funny, creative and a little bit mischievous. I love watching him develop and I adore the little person he is becoming. I am delighted everyday to be his Momma and to call him mine.

Happy birthday, Rhys!

the call

I have been waiting, not at all patiently, for The Call. I’ve spent the better part of the last year moving towards a new career that would be more inline with our family values and goals. I completed the required certificate in January. I watched as my classmates got interviews and then job offers. I inquired and was told my application was under consideration, that more interviews would be scheduled in a few weeks. Vague, but slightly comforting. I watched as classmates’ applications were completely dismissed. I prayed. I prayed hard. My heart jumped into my throat every time my phone rang. I was disappointed every time.

Last Friday, completely unsuspecting, I got an email. The Email. Was I available Tuesday morning at 10? Yes! I would move heaven and earth to be available. I planned my outfit, I rehearsed answers to common questions. I invented new questions. I talked to myself incessantly the entire weekend. Tuesday at 10am I met the woman who held my future, my family’s future, in her hands. She was positively delightful.

I expected to go away and wait, agonizing again, for The Offer. For some of my classmates it came hours later, some days, some waited over a week. How long would I be tormented? But as our interview was wrapping up she simply said, “We would love to hire you. When can you start?”

We would love to hire you. 

I start next week.

breathe

Between multiple illnesses (just for me!) and a side job for a friend, this week had me whipped. There was very little intentionality, just a whole lot of survival.

We did play multiple rounds of Peek-a-Boo While Running. Not recommended as the running blindly resulted in at least one bloody lip, but this guy lives on the edge. Sigh. Do two year olds ever stop moving? These days, every picture is blurry because something is always in motion.

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Tomorrow we greet the new week. We reset. We breathe slowly; we move intentionally. And this week we’ll practice running with our eyes open.

 

why I don’t stockpile for the future

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This is a continuation in our Children and Minimalism series and a companion to Reformed Stockpiler (household edition).

As a rule, I do not stockpile for the toddler. Anymore.

Baby showers are the invention of stockpiling things for tiny people. Things you think you’ll need, things your friends and family think you’ll need. A hope and a prayer of what season it will be when your tiny newborn finally wears those 18m clothes. It is all given with the utmost sincerity and good intention, but if my experience is anything typical a solid half of the gifts I received never fit well into our lives. I saved and packed and sorted and organized for nearly a year and a half until I realized nothing left would work for him. I finally wished them well and sent them on to a new home where they would be useful and loved.

Similarly, the times I’ve bought ahead for the next season or stored handmedowns hoping to save a few dollars, I’ve found that half of it isn’t practical for his size and the season. Maybe I’m a bad shopper, maybe my child has erratic growth patterns. Whatever the issue, stocking up for the future has never been wildly successful for me.

Instead, I maintain a streamlined wardrobe and replace items only as needed so we don’t have a huge collection of unworn clothing. When a big season change is coming up I make a list of what he’ll need and start hunting second hand and clearance racks to fill in the gaps. If I’m looking for something that won’t get used much I will ask to borrow it from a friend.

Not surprisingly, I don’t save (many) clothes for a future child. There are a few factors at play – 1) we don’t know if or when we might have another child, 2) it’s a huge gamble hoping the birth season and genders coordinate, and 3) I sell his current clothing to fund the next season. Not all of it is in resale condition, but I get enough money back that it alleviates some pressure on our family budget. I have kept 8-10 items that have some sentimental value, but eventually if we don’t have a second child they will find a new home.

So when do I break the rules? (Because sometimes I do…) When I find a big ticket item significantly discounted , when I know I can resell without losing money, or when we’re close enough to needing it that it can still be returned for credit. Recently I found a snow suite for $20 (originally $120!). If anything it’s a size too big, but I do expect it to fit fine next winter. I know I can sell it and likely make money, but at the very least that particular store accepts returns for life if the item still has tags and receipt. I have a small bin for these items and revisit it regularly.

I would love to hear from other parents! Do you save clothes? Do you buy ahead? What system works for your budget and trying to maintain a more minimalist home?