Saturday, January 31, 2009


I got fired last week. Not necessarily fired, but I no longer have a job. There weren't enoug hours for all of the employees. A sign of the times, I guess.

You would think that would make things easier at home. I only have home, family, and school to worry about now. You would most definitely be wrong. Our house has had me so stressed that I've come to the brink of losing it more than once. The amount of clutter and mess was overwhelming. And I'm working myself to the bone to change that. I worked for 2.5 hours last night before having a guest over to get the house presentable. And, I thought it was still a little messy, but it was definitely presentable. Only to have my guest tell me how much I needed to clean my house. A hard blow to take. Which had me fighting tears and a panic attack the rest of the night. It also sparked a nice fight with my husband about the state of our home. None of which was helping it get any more clean. I stayed up until 4 AM cleaning our bedroom. And now I've been up since 7:30 AM cleaning again. My husband helped me a bit this morning when he got home from work before heading to bed. It's not going to get all done today, but we're definitely on our way to having it nice and clean.

I'm diligently getting rid of items. While I would love to take the time to freecycle everything, that's just not possible right now. I've bagged the clothes for the clothing recycling center, but unfortunately everything else is being trashed. I absolutely believe in protecting our planet and being a good steward of the Eart, but right now my sanity has to come before that. I can't keep things around even for just a couple of extra days! Seeing the number of things in our house steadily decreasing is thrilling! My ultimate goal is a warm minimalist home. A minimalist home with more photos and personal momentos.

My biggest dilemma is the TV. I hate it! We have a flatscreen on the wall. I rarely watch TV. I watch maybe 4 hours a week and at least 3 of those hour its just on for noise. I let my oldest watch maybe an hour a day on average. I try to keep it off as much as I can. So when its off there's just a huge black rectangle on the wall. I could buy one of the "fishtank" dvds, and I even think I have a fireplace one around here somewhere. LOL But that's such an energy waste! I've thought about sewing up a cover for the TV from a beautiful fabric. A sort of fitted sheet-like thing to turn our TV into a piece of fabric art when not in use. I've also considered putting a small piece of black velcro on the corners of the TV and having one of my favorite pictures blown up to the appropriate size and mounted on cardboard that can be velcroed over the TV. I like this on most of all, since there are a few prints I've seen that I wished I could hang in place of the TV. Getting rid of the TV isn't an option, as DH is going nuts as it is without cable.

I wish I could have someone come into the house and just help me with a fresh set of eyes figure out what to keep and what to get rid of. Help me organize and sort things. Help me get things in order. I don't have the money to hire anyone, though. And I almost feel like I've made this mess and it's my responsibility to fix it. But when it is so overwhelming you just feel like it easier to give in.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sleeplessness and Home things

Sleeplessness has taken over my life recently. I've always been a night owl. Even after becoming a mother. But it's fit with our family's way of life, so it hasn't been an issue. But this week twice now I've been so unable to sleep I've wound up staying awake for ~24-30 hours. I had to miss school yesterday because I didn't trust myself to drive home afterwards, which would have been during my 28th hour of being up. I try to go to sleep, but I cannot shut off all the thoughts in my head. Even during a massage, I cannot relax or stop these constant thoughts. Thoughts about everything. Thoughts about nothing. Tonight I took some melatonin and drank sleepytime extra tea. I've also switched my normal calcium supplement to one with magnesium in it. Apparently it can help as well.

In the meantime, I've used this time away to my advantage. I have made amazing headway in both the girls' bedroom and in the toyroom. Organzing, cleaning, etc. Our kitchen and living room are looking better, too. And I've got paint colors picked out. Our living room and hallway are both a light blue. We're keeping that, but the accent wall extending from the living room into the kitchen will be a light orange. The rest of the kitchen will be a lighter orange/peach shade. The bathroom is going to be a nice, bright aqua. The girls' room will be a green shade. Our room will be a cream color (boring, I know!), and the toyroom yellow. A nice, warm, colorful house. Adding in shelves with pictures, and continuing to find a place for everything is making our house finally start to feel like home.

I especially noticed that while putting the toyroom together today. I am finding spots for all of the toys. And as I find those spots its starting to feel like an environment that's more conducive to playing and learning. I grew up in an organized house, but never got taught how it got that way. And as I'm learning these things, I realize how much of it is just common sense! But that's okay, I'm learning them and that's what counts!!!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Lessons from my toddler.

My husband had the girls in their room playing earlier tonight. I didn't know it, but he'd fallen asleep. He hadn't had any sleep in around 30 hours, so I guess I should have anticipated it. All of a sudden, A-L, my 3 year old, came out. She had my black eyeliner drawn all around her eyes like a racoon. I got upset with her; she's drawn all over furniture with my make-up before and we'd made it clean that she was not to mess with mama's makeup. I led her into the bathroom to wash her face.

As we walked into the bathroom, I saw it. Blonde wisps of hair. From one end of the bathroom to the other. I looked at her again, looking past the eyeliner. Her beautiful bangs were gone! The hair on the side of her face was much shorter and jagged. One spot in the back is cut within an inch of her scalp. After I finished crying, I got her out of her room and talked to her. We managed to make a bob, but I'm taking her to the salon tomorrow to ask them what they can do to make it look best both now, and as it grows out.

This is the sixth or seventh time that she's cut her hair. We hide scissors, put them up high. It never fails, she will find a way to get them. I get so, so frustrated with her. I mean, she knows what she should do, why is it so hard for her to do it???

Then, it hit me. I am JUST like her. I am, as a daughter of the King, just like a defiant three year old! God gives me the 'rules', he loves me and has given me the tools I need to obey him. Yet, though I know I shouldn't do something, I still do it. Every time I curse, every time I get frustrated and yell at my toddler or snap at my husband or parents, I'm just like a three year old cutting her hair when mama has told her not to.

And just like I still love my daughter and will continue to try and guide her towards appropriate behavior, God will do the same for me. He will always love me, He will always give me the tools I need to live in a way that is pleasing to Him, and He will always forgive me my mistakes. So, even now, when I'm at a point where I feel so disconnected from Him and am struggling to find my way back to a place where I feel filled with His grace and His presence, I am reminded that I am always loved. And He will always be waiting for me to "put the scissors down" and run back into His arms. Amazing the lessons a defiant toddler can teach us when we're willing to listen.

Speaking of...I better go find another hiding spot for the scissors. I'm thinking the top of the fridge may just work.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Massage School

I LOVE massage. Everything I learn makes me love it more. I've had plenty of aquaintances tell me I am only loving it now because I get two massages a week during my class times. And yes, I guess that can be seen as a perk. But, the bigger perk? I get to GIVE two massages a week. It's so much better giving them at school than here at home. The lights are dimmed, and there is such relaxing music playing. It makes for a wonderful atmosphere for massage.

When I give a massage, I find it to be more beneficial than when I get a massage. I feel somewhat good after a massage. But, I find it hard to truly relax and focus on healing and rejuvenation when getting a massage. Like most women, especially those of us who are wives and mothers, I find it unnerving when all the focus is on ME. I'm not used to it. And without fail, a few minutes into the massage I wind up thinking about a million and one things. Grocery lists, budgets, bills, cleaning, organizing, the kids, the dogs, and so on.

But when I give a massage? Then I am in my element. I am focusing on nurturing and healing someone else. My sole purpose in that 50 minutes is to do everything I can to make that person's day better. To rejuvenate and heal their mind, body, and spirit. As a natural born nurturer, this is what I am best at. And after I'm done, I realize that in doing my best to heal THEIR mind, body, and spirit, I've received just as much as I've given. Sometimes it seems like I've received more.

I leave class feeling energized. Lighter on my feet. I feel like there is nothing that can stop me. I get to relax and work out all while helping someone else.

This is definitely what God has called me to do. I'm not sure in what capacity I'll be a massage therapist. But a massage therapist I will be.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The unchanging spouse

This is something I struggle with. I have a deep-rooted desire to live a simpler life. One free of the burdens of loans and credit and the need for material things. My wonderful husband, however, doesn't necessarily have this same desire.

This issue has shown itself clearly the past couple of days. We recently got rid of our newish car and bought an old but reliable car. It needs some things done; new struts and shocks, and the passenger door has an airleak we need to fix. Everything else that's wrong with it is purely cosmetic. I call the car Ugly Betty quite affectionately. And while I hated giving up my newer prettier car, I've quickly grown to love this new-to-me car that has saved us from a large payment and costs 1/3 as much for insurance. Pretty close to the same gas mileage, too!

Now, my husband has found out about the $7,500 credit/loan you can get on your taxes this year. Basically it's a 15 year interest free loan from the government. Hubby wants to go for it and use it to buy a newer car outright. A 2003 Subaru Outback Legacy, to be exact. He's a meanie and went for MY dream car in an effort to woo me to his side. And then use the remaining loan plus our normal refund to catch up on a couple of debts and do some small projects around the house.

Good idea, in theory, I guess. An interest free loan. Essentially it would give us a car payment of $500/year. Much, much better than what we were paying of course. And the car would have all wheel drive. With the snowstorms and thundersnows we've seen this year including more ice and the roads crews having less-than-stellar response time, this is a huge plus.

I'm just not sold. There will be more to pay for insurance since with such a nice car we'd definitely carry full coverage versus the liability we have now (no point in that when your deductible costs more than your car!). Plus there's the increased expense if something were to go wrong with the car. With Ugly Betty, we can find any part we'd need at our local junkyard. With newer cars this isn't true. Especially with Subarus, whose parts are not that easy to find in the first place. Hubby works at an auto parts store, he himself has used this against me in the past as a reason to NOT get a Subaru.

I feel the best option is to take whatever our refund would be without this $7,500 "credit" and be happy. Use it to pay our two largest, most essential bills off. Then live for a while with no monthly loan payments except our mortgage for a while. Use that time to build a savings. I figure Ugly Betty has a good two to five years left in her if we take good care of her. By that time, we'll have enough of a savings built up that we can easily pay for a car in cash. I'm tired of owing someone money. Even if that someone is charging no interest and is, essentially, the faceless entity known as the IRS. I mean why would you willingly be indebted to the IRS of all people???

Sometimes, I feel my desire for simplicity is something I'm left to deal with alone. At least in our family. I am fighting a losing battle in this house trying to get us away from consumerism. I can't even get us to go a week without eating out! How am I supposed to convince him that doing less, having less, and spending less are good things when I can't even convince him to wait until we get home to eat? Then, I realize that I am not him. I can do these things even without his support. So, we have a big ugly black box on our wall. It doesn't mean I have to turn it on. In fact, sometimes I forget its anything more than a big, black hole in the wall. So he eats out all the time. It doesn't mean I have to order something for myself. I can simply show him by example the life I want to lead.

But I am clueless on how to do this with this car situation. I can't show by example, because while it would be my car (as Ugly Betty is mine), it is our money. I can't completely veto his idea, that's not how our relationship works and I don't think its fair. But how do we compromise when the things we want are on totally different ends of the spectrum?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Mama time and Choosing Simplicity

Tonight I went out with a friend. It was the first time in around a year or two that this friend and I had been out without kids or significant others. We saw 'Bride Wars' and went to have nachos at our favorite Mexican place. I've generally felt guilty in the past when I leave the kids to go out somewhere. Not tonight. Just hanging out with a friend, talking about our lives and remembering old stories was revitalizing to my spirit. I feel better now for having gone out tonight. And that translates into being a better mom for my kids.

In an effort to simplify our lives we got rid of our newer car and its several hundred dollar a month payment yesterday. We took less than two months of payments and bought a 13 year old junker. Not really a junker. It's an older sedan with 226k miles, though, so it has some issues. And cosmetically, the outside is a wreck with it's peeling paint and rust. But it's a sound car, and the work that needs done is stuff DH can easily do. And he can do it cheap since his part-time job is at a parts store and he gets a discount. It'll do for a couple years until we can buy a van with cash. While I'm not exactly happy about the change (I absolutely adored my car), the relief of knowing that we owe nothing on a vehicle is very liberating. I hate feeling enslaved to a vehicle payment.

To me, this choice was a perfect example of choosing simplicity. People ask me often what I mean when I say we are choosing a simple life. Living free from a car payment is one way of choosing a simpler life. Its one less bill to worry about paying, one less burden to carry financially. Choosing to live without cable TV is another way. By giving up cable, we've chosen to be more in the moment when we're spending time together. We play games with the kids, go for walks, take them to the zoo or to Bass Pro Shops (my girls love that store!), read books together, or do crafts with them. These are all ways to have fun together that involve actively engaging one another rather than being passively entertained in the same space. It also creates a simpler life because we don't always have the TV on for 'background noise'. This has made the house much more peaceful, which to me is a congruent with a simple life. It frees up time for us to do things like baking our own bread or crocheting or building furniture. It's all about small choices that are making a big impact in our lives. Things that help us be more in the moment, at peace with the world around us, and active participants in our environment.


I'm up late, which happens often in this house. Everyone else is asleep, I can even hear the dogs snoring away in the kitchen. Like usual, I find my mind racing with thoughts. I wish I weren't tired and unable to sleep. If I were more awake I could use these late nights to focus on spending time in prayer and devotion. I'm afraid if I tried to do such things now I'd fall asleep in the middle of it and wind up filled with frustration rather than faith.

Tonight the thoughts are all about decluttering and simplifying our home. We simply have way too many things. Especially toys. How many toys do two little girls really need? We have a large Little Tykes vanity that gets played with rarely. The only part about it that gets acknowledged is the mirror. So why do I keep this big, honking thing in the corner of the toyroom when I can just hang a mirror on the wall and have the same effect?

The only large toys I want to keep are the Train/Lego table and accessories, and an easel. Oh, and their table/chair set, but that's not really a toy as much as it is a work surface. Then some playsilks, their dolls (each has one cloth one and one "regular" one), wooden dollhouse and accessories, and stuffed animals. Oh, the stuffed animals. Most of my old Beanie Baby collection, and some others that have been added to the mix. I'd get rid of those, but they LOVE them. I've greatly reduced their numbers, however, to about 10% of what it once was.

A place for everything, and everything in it's place. That's the goal for 2009, folks.