Cleaning House :: An Attempt At Minimalism

I’m going down a rabbit hole, folks.

I’m chasing this white rabbit named Minimalism, and while the chase is a bitch, I’m liking what I’m seeing on the horizon.

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A couple weeks ago I came upon Allie Casazza’s blog and joined her newsletter, and reading about a minimalist lifestyle just clicked for me. I ate up her every word, her encouragement, and now I’m on a mission.

Sean is skeptical.

But here’s the thing – we’ve moved three times in ten years. We’ve lived in four different homes now. Our first home was a one bedroom in a multifamily home. Our next was a shoebox two bedroom apartment, where we welcomed Lily into our family. The third was a two bedroom single family home with a nice sized yard. And now we’re in a two bedroom townhouse, with three full floors of living space.

It’s a lot of space. And we’ve filled it! When we moved from our first home to our second, we made several trips to Goodwill. We probably brought 4-5 car fulls of junk, things we didn’t want or need anymore. It felt so freeing. And then we had Lily at our next place, and a whole other person’s worth of stuff got added to our small space. So we moved to a bigger space. And we filled that. And jobs changed and we made our biggest move to a bigger space. And we’ve been here for two years now, had Andrew, and have filled the space and then some.

The last two moves? We didn’t really do a big cleanout. We threw stuff in boxes and off we went. So we’ve accumulated, collected and held on to things that we may have otherwise let go.

Does having kids add to the amount of stuff you have in your home? Absolutely. But it doesn’t have to be the insane amount of toys, books, clothes and other…whatever, that we are told we’ll just have to deal with for the next 18 years.

No, thank you.

I started looking around. I started thinking about what we have, and why we have so much. Why do I have a closet full of clothes I never wear? Why do I have 4 winter coats when I really only ever wear one, maybe two, regularly? Why does my daughter have 20 pairs of shoes when she only wears four or five? Why do I keep buying these little toys and games at Target’s dollar section, or whenever we go somewhere, as a “momento” that will only be lost under the seat of the car or forgotten in a bin of other small things that held her attention for less than a moment before she was on to the next.

Allie’s blog brought up another good point as well, which I relate to on so many levels. When you have so much stuff, you are devoting time in your life to that stuff, whether you realize it or not. Dishes, clothes, toys, things that need washing, putting away, care, and attention. I think about the value of my time and how I want to spend it. I certainly don’t want to be picking up a pile of toys that got strewn on the floor, but not played with. I don’t want to be designating tucked away dark corners of cabinets and closets to piles of stuff that I just can’t wrap my head around dealing with in the moment.

And kids? They don’t need much. Lil will spend more time with an empty shipping box or a towel tied around her neck like a superhero than she will with the $200 worth of toys we got her for Christmas. We recently spent an afternoon at a friend’s house and she spent a good 3 hours outside just running around, playing hide and seek, exploring, no toys and so much energy and fun. It’s like a lightbulb went off.

We want to give our kids everything, but the best thing we can give them is an appreciation of very little.

So I’m cleaning. I’m clearing out. I’m letting go. It’s hard, because we’re taught to hold onto things. And there are sentimental things that should absolutely be kept and cared for. But something’s gotta give. Lots of things have got to go.

My goal is to be able to start the homebuying process in the nearish future, and Lord knows we will not be able to afford a ton of space. The sooner I can get our current living space to a place of having some breathing room again, the easier it’ll be (I hope) when the time comes to pack up and move. And if I can start teaching Lily and Andrew now to appreciate being happy with less now, hopefully that will help them to have empathy for those who go without, and to find joy in spending more time outdoors, and inspire them to find creative ways to entertain themselves. Kids have SO MUCH potential. I really hope this helps our family find more time for enjoyment and quality time, and less time picking up every day or week.

I’m starting on my kitchen. Pray for me.

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I will be updating as I go along here, because Lord knows I’ll need to have a little writing therapy to deal with why I’ve held on to some of these things for so long. If you’ve ever done a major home purge or are interested in starting, I’d love to hear from you about your experience! Leave a comment below with what you found the most challenging, or the most rewarding!

Sleeping Alone Sucks

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The other night, Lil woke up and stumbled into our room, climbed up onto my monster of a bed, and fell asleep on Sean’s pillow. She mumbled something about not wanting to sleep alone.

I didn’t have the heart to put her back in her own bed, so I let her be for a while.

I can’t blame her for not wanting to sleep alone. I don’t like sleeping alone. Most nights, I stay awake much later than I should simply because I do not like falling asleep by myself. And I’m thirty-….something. I should be ok with this, but I’m not.

Last year, Sean worked overnights for 6 months. It was awful. I barely slept, I was restless, I was anxious. I actually bought an essential oil blend called Anxiety Ease because I was lying in bed listening for any little noise, convinced we were going to be robbed. I would get heart palpitations if our neighbors bumped the wall. I played soothing music on Spotify in an attempt to lull myself to sleep.

It was not easy.

Yet we expect a four year old to go to sleep by herself every night and sleep soundly and be ok with that while we have each other’s company just down the hall. Oh, and we’re grown ups. We should be ok with sleeping alone.

So if I’m not, why should I expect her to be?

So I let her curl up. I rub her back and comb her hair with my fingers. I snuggle up to her and we keep each other warm and cozy. And although it breaks my heart (and almost breaks my back because she’s pushing 40lb), I lift her sleepy, heavy body onto my shoulder and bring her back to her room, tuck her in, give her soft cheeks a kiss and tell her I love her and will see her when the sun comes up. I pray that she’ll sleep soundly and peacefully, and climb into bed, anxiously awaiting Sean to come home from work so I can finally fall asleep.

Andrew :: Two Months

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My poor, sweet Andrew. Total second child syndrome. He is nearly three months old, but nevertheless, here’s a two month update. 😛

As of his two month checkup on May 9, he was 9lb 3 oz, 22 inches long. At birth he was 6lb 8oz and 19.5 inches long.

He started really smiling! His personality is exploding every day and he’s so incredibly sweet and silly. He loves having his diaper changed, watching his Sissy dance and sing, and teasing mommy that maybe he is ready to go to sleep for the night. He has a smirk that rivals Han Solo’s.

Sleep is hit or miss. Some days he naps a lot, other days I wonder if he’s actually napped at all. Nights are still spent in 3-4 hour chunks, which is better than being up all night. He is sleeping in the pack and play in our room until at least sometime this summer, when we decide he’s sleeping well enough to transfer him to his crib in his and Lil’s room. No need to disturb her sleep if we don’t need to.

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We are nursing as much as possible, and supplementing with formula as needed. Some days it’s not at all, other days it’s one or two bottles. I’m trying to keep my supply up, but also trying not to stress or drive myself crazy like I did with Lily.

His neck strength is getting really good, and tummy time is becoming less tragic. He looooves to kick his right foot. Maybe he’ll be a drummer and kick that bass drum like a champ?

We went to a friend’s wedding as a family of four and made it through almost to the end of the night. Lily danced with anyone and everyone, non-stop. Andrew made his dance floor debut in my arms and charmed everyone to bits.

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Mother’s Day was truly glorious. Sean did a great job making me feel special and loved and relaxed. I got Dunkin Donuts coffee and a sandwich in bed and did not get out of bed until close to noon. We just hung out all morning in our pjs in our new king sized bed (!!!) and ate and watched The Office and Elena of Avalor. We got sushi for lunch and pizza for supper, and spent the day lounging and napping and watching movies. Like I said, glorious.

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We’re enjoying getting to know his personality as it emerges. Sean says (and I agree) that he is definitely a mama’s boy. He loves snuggling in my arms and he just prefers me. I chalk it up to being his main food source, but I ain’t complaining! I will take all the snuggles I can get every day of my life. Same still goes for Lil. Someday they won’t want to snuggle and give me hugs and be close, so I’ll take it as much as I can get it.

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The best thing is watching his and Lily’s relationship grow and develop. She is just crazy about him and the sun rises and sets on her as far as he is concerned. I’m so blessed to witness it all. 

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Introducing Andrew Joseph :: Birth Story

Andrew Joseph Birth Story Newborn Photographer Shannon Sorensen Photography

Two weeks ago, I didn’t feel very good. Lily and I spent Sunday the 5th in the car, driving up to Central Massachusetts for my cousin’s baby shower. When we got home that night, I was crampy and achy, and I chalked it up to spending a lot of the day driving along bumpy country roads. But the next morning, I didn’t feel much better. I dropped Lily off at school, and every step out to the car, my belly felt heavy and low, like he’d fall out at any moment.

I told Sean it was probably going to happen that week. He got serious very quickly and we went to my doctor to get checked out. After a delightful cervix check (can you sense my sarcasm?), I was told there was no progress and to go home and rest. I had another appointment scheduled two days from then, so I figured maybe by then I’d see some progress towards labor.

We got home and called Sean’s mom to see if she could come down for the night. Sean is usually home on Mondays, but he was scheduled for overtime that night. She came right down to help with Lily so I could rest. We did some quick power cleaning and vacuuming and made sure our ducks were in a row, and I think at that point, we both knew any day could be the day.

Sean went to pick Lil up from school and I rested a bit. They got home, and his mother arrived shortly after. He left for work around 5, and I started making some dinner – chicken tikka masala in the InstantPot. I was just about done cooking around 6 and went to sit down on the couch while the rice finished cooking. I felt a little gush of what I thought was pee, and rushed to the bathroom, because when you’re 37 weeks pregnant, these things happen and no one wants to pee on their couch. I had some spotting and when I stood up to wash my hands, I had another gush of fluid. Nope, that wasn’t pee.

I called Sean and told him to come home – my water broke.

Things were a bit of a blur for the next hour. I sat in the bathroom so I wouldn’t leak all over the house. When your water breaks, the fluid comes out in gushes ranging from a dribble to a hearty gush, and it’s a weird feeling, because unlike pee, you can’t hold it back. Sean’s mom made sure Lily was eating dinner and happy, and she helped me gather some things. I called my mom to let her know plans changed and the baby was coming that night. Once Sean was home, he packed a bag and got everything out to the car. Then it was time to go!

I’ll be forever grateful Sean took this picture of me and my baby. I felt alllll the emotions hugging her goodbye, knowing all our lives were changing that night. She was so sweet and excited. Leaving her was incredibly hard.

At the hospital, we were brought up to labor and delivery. Sean wheeled me up as contractions were coming on faster and stronger. We got all checked in and prep for a cesarean began. I was reminded several times how difficult my veins were trying to get an IV in place. I was glad I had shaved my legs that morning. Sean let me squeeze the heck out of his hand with each contraction. Our nurse was an angel.

Around 10, we walked to the OR, which was conveniently about 20 steps from our room. Sean had to wait outside and I was given a spinal anesthesia. I kept laughing and cracking terrible jokes because I’ve discovered that’s how I deal with nerves. I’m so thankful that everyone in the OR was nice and kind and friendly, because nothing is more awkward than lying naked on an operating table under blindingly bright lights while the lower 2/3s of your body gets numb.

The next 15 minutes or so involved Sean coming in, both of us nervously waiting as surgery began, I could ever so slightly see my guts above me in the reflection of the lighting equipment, and after some rather strong pushing of my uterus, he came out and blessed our ears with the healthiest cry I’ve ever heard. The boy has LUNGS.

Andrew Joseph was born at 10:31pm on March 6, weighing 6lb 8oz and measuring 19 inches long.

He is a sweet, snuggly boy. He is happiest when cuddled up on someone’s chest. He has zero tolerance for wet or dirty diapers. The slightest mess and he wants to be fresh and clean. He is a nursing champ, which I am grateful for. So much of our first two weeks with him has been different from when Lily was born. Going into surgery not exhausted, and actually getting some sleep that night between feedings, put me in a good place to get up and walk the next day. I physically felt so much better after this surgery.

Having that first night to ourselves before any visitors came was worth it’s weight in gold. We had plenty of bonding time, and there was no pressure to let anyone in to meet him. Our moms arrived with Lily in the morning, allowing us to be rested and ready.

Getting to witness Lily meeting Andrew was the highlight of that first day. She held him, kissed him, sang to him and doted on him. She is an incredible big sister. The past two weeks have bee a big learning experience for all of us, but overall, she is doing great and I am so proud of her.

I am sitting here thinking today should have been the day we met him, and instead, we’ve already enjoyed him for two weeks. What a blessing. My heart is full. I’m the luckiest lady in the world to have the family I have.

Here are some of my favorite photos from the past two weeks.

36 Week Update :: Beached Whale Mode

Happy March!

It’s officially THE MONTH OF BABY. Yes, the time is fast approaching. I have told Sean several times in the past few days that yes, any day could be The Day now. He looks at me wide eyed and turns on a video game or a Youtube video on building computers submerged in oil. I get it. I have had a hard time facing reality these days as well. I can’t even handle the fact that I finished the original Gilmore Girls series and am now watching Year in the Life.

I’ve hit full-on crazy mode.

With just a couple weeks to go, I have been equal parts wanting to clean like a crazy person and also lie down on the couch for extended periods of time and think about everything I need to do.

I have not finished cutting out fabric for his quilt. Instead, I started knitting a completely separate baby blanket. I’m about 1/3 done with it. I will finish it before we are discharged from the hospital.

I decided my bedroom looks like a dumping zone so I started a new Pinterest board to redecorate and further avoid reality.

I should be focusing on actual house cleaning, like dishes and laundry and making sure the bathrooms aren’t disgusting, and instead I have been staring at things that need to be cleaned, and then going and doing something else.

Rolling out of bed three times a night to pee is an Olympic sporting event.

I’m officially feeling huge. Physically, I have only gained a couple pounds (thanks, Gestational Diabetes), but my back aches, every move I make is accompanied with a grunt or groan, and I’m walking like That Pregnant Lady with the waddle while holding her back with one hand and rubbing her belly with the other.

All joking aside, I had a lovely maternity photo session last week where I felt beautiful and like a goddess who can do anything because I’m creating life and what is more big and amazing than that?!

Photography by Megan at Perspectives Photography.