Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Happy and the Hard


- My husband has a new job which is a great fit for his giftings with plenty of room to be challenged and grow professionally.
- We're having opportunities to see most members of our families this summer.
- Our son enjoyed a great season playing baseball this summer with excellent coaches. A coach can really set the whole tone of that experience and these men were top notch.
- Our little girl is walking.  That's bittersweet for this mama.  All our babies aren't really babies anymore.
- We're so thankful for our church community and looking forward to getting back to small group in the fall. 
- A dear friend is getting married this month after more than a decade of prayers that God would bring a husband. She is so happy.  Although I won't be able to make the wedding in Rwanda I think there will live streaming all around the world.  Looking forward to that!
- We're looking forward to fun family times next week.

- My husband took a statistics course this summer which turned out to be a massive amount of work and time, which was really difficult for all of us.
- The wide range of ages of our children is presenting more of a challenge as our big kids get more into activities.  Have you ever tried to keep a strong-willed 3-year-old from running off at a ball park for 2 hours?  Not fun. We also know that our big kids just don't get to do as much because of the little ones which gives way to feelings of guilt for me.  It seems other large families manage this, but I don't think we've found our groove yet.
- Trying to find balance in our budget for today and for the future.  We usually error on the side of not spending on fun activities today, but our kids are growing fast and it is starting to feel like sometimes you actually do have to spend money to make memories.
- own lack of self-esteem and confidence, feeling discouraged that I don't see the fruit of these intense years of parenting, feeling the need for a break from responsibilities but realizing that is just not possible right now.  Even 24 hours away could be very refreshing.   Since we started parenting almost 11 years ago, my husband and I have been away from the kids for 8 nights, and none of those have been in the last 5 years.  So I guess I'm just tired.

What is the happy and the hard in the spot you're in?

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Great Closet Clean-Out & 100 Piece Wardrobe

In an effort to simplify life in general, I decided I must face my generously-sized walk-in closet. I'm rather embarrassed to show you the before photos, but I do want to be real.  This space had become the depository for all kinds of things that didn't have any real home.  Outgrown baby clothes, unfinished craft projects, luggage, bed linens, extra storage containers, current baby clothes for a sweet girl who moved in with her sister months ago, mother and baby items that won't be used again by our family, etc.  I don't do well with undefined spaces, so the more types of things were put in there, the less I maintained order and the less mindful I was of my own stuff, mostly clothes.  So I took a Saturday and tackled the closet, hauling out everything, deep cleaning the space, finding more logical homes for things not related to my personal presentation.  That meant that I also took out every item of clothing I own and purged a lot.  My goal was to trim it down to 100 items. I've been greatly challenged by the book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess  and the blog The Year of Less*, among other blogs, books and articles.  With  simplicity in mind, I listed out on paper all the pieces of my wardrobe that I was keeping.  Listing things out made me realize a few items I may need to add as well as some categories that are a little too abundant.

Why 100 items?
* I simply needed to put a limit on the number of clothes I own and needed a place to start.  For some people, 100 would be downright excessive and for others it would be way too minimal.
* I needed motivation to weed out the things I wasn't using because of poor fit, unflattering design or color and lack of function in my current life stage. Setting a limit allowed me to release these things more easily.
* I wanted to like my wardrobe better overall so I needed to get rid of the items I was just keeping because it felt wasteful to get rid of them.
* I hoped for more empty space so it could be easily maintained.
* Going forward, I want to be really mindful of what I bring in. Basically, I want to feel confident in the clothes I wear without giving it too much thought.

Did I meet my goals?  Yes, and no.
I did whittle my collection of clothing significantly, but my list of 100 pieces does not include scarves and such, swimwear or foundations.  My list does include items for all seasons, dresses, skirts, blouses, tops, pants, shorts, sweaters, coats, workout clothing and pajamas.  I'm no fashionista, but I don't think I'm any less stylish than before the purge. This experience has shifted my shopping habits and made me a lot more choosy about what I add.  Because the rest of our home really lacks storage, toiletries and luggage and one bin of sentimental baby items are still in that closet, but I'm okay with that. I feel more content with what I have and my closet is a calming retreat.

one closet rod, one dresser and wire drawers for shoes
And my wedding dress box, too.  

There are still a lot of toiletries, but they are organized and easily accessible.

I could shuffle things a bit more and make room for a reading corner or a little crafting desk, but for now I'm just enjoying the empty space.  It feels like a breath of fresh air. 

* no longer active, but the archives are inspiring