Friday, September 29, 2006

Slowing Down

I was reading the other day about slowing down. Driving slower. Living slower. Taking everything in instead of racing past life.

As I sat in the pick-up line at my childrens' school yesterday, I saw a prime example...
There are 2 women who take turns directing traffic at the school. All parents have a card w/a # on it. Our kids have the same # and come out when it is called. One of the women rushes around. I used to think she really takin' care of business and doing a fabulous job. But now I realize, that she's just frantic and stressed. She races down the line taking numbers 1/2 way down the street. She yells at the cars that don't move up fast enough to "move up! squeeze in!" trying to get as many cars as she can out of the road and into the school's driveway. She actually directs traffic like a police officer! And like I said, I always think she's doing a fabulous job.
Then there's woman #2. She is laid back, calm, and relaxed. She NEVER walks to the street, she just takes numbers as you pull into the driveway. She walks slowly and talks softly. She *never* yells. I've always thought she was lazy and didn't like bus duty.
And then I read a chapter in Elaine St. James' book, Simplify Your Life: 100 Ways to Slow Down and Enjoy the Things That Really Matter. So I timed the ladies. It takes me the EXACT same amount of time to get through the line, regardless of who is out there working. Ms. Frantic is just stressing herself out for nothing. I want to tell her to calm down, relax, and smell the roses now :) And I want to tell Ms. Blah "Right On" and apologize for thinking Ms. Frantic did a "better" job just because she LOOKED more busy.

I stopped speedracing in the car long ago. I realized when I was in my early 20s that cussing, flipping people off, and getting fuming angry behind the wheel did nothing to change the traffic but only made me feel nervous and stressed. I'm a much more relaxed, and I think better driver now. In the past, if someone pulled out in a parking lot w/o looking and almost hit me, "Moron". Now...well, I still think they are a moron, but I don't get *angry* about it because I figure they were obviously distracted and not intentionally trying to hit me. So many people I know that things so personal. My ex-husband used to think everyone on the road was intentionally trying to wreck with him.

Slow Down. Enjoy.

Yesterday, I took the baby and preschooler to a Nature Preserve. It was so nice and peaceful. Nothing but the sounds and smells of the wetland. We sat there on a bench talking about what we heard and smelled. It was so refreshing and a wonderful reminder to me to slow down and LISTEN to the world around me :)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Holidays

I'm getting simple this holiday season, too. No more buying crap because I "have to" give a gift. And I somehow need to spread the word to return the favor. I'd rather get no present than something I don't need. It's insincere and ridiculous.

So what am I doing for gifts this year? Well...I've taken up crocheting, so I'll be making some toys and clothes for the children in my life. I'm working on a cute baby bunting doll right now that I'm hoping will become a gift. I've been practicing my Dandelion Dreamers teaset to hopefully make a set for my niece. I actually ordered one set by the DD owner for my own children because 1. Patti is an AWESOME artisan, and my work could never compare, and 2. Now I have a perfect set to look at and try to get my skills 'that' good knowing what it is *supposed to* look like LOL.

I've also gotten really good at trading with other crafty mamas, so I've already set up a trade for a little bag for knitting supplies for my sister (and yes, she may be reading this and spoiling her suprise, but oh well). I have my end of the trade complete, just waiting for the other party to finish and then we will ship together closer to the holidays. I'm pretty excited about this one, it's going to be something I want to keep!

My niece has several smocks by me that she wears as jammies. Her dad commented that he wanted some flannel jammies to match hers (not smock, though LOL), so for Christmas, I'll be sewing them up a coordinating set!

So all my presents will be various handmade crafts by either myself or my friends. That makes me feel good :) And for the hubby...well...he'll just get the same present he's gotten the last few What more could a man want? Seriously.

I've come so far, and yet...

...I still have so much further to go! In fact, I don't think this is actually a journey that EVER ends. I think the simple lifestyle is always evolving and changing within me.

I haven't been posting with as much frequency as in the beginning, because I have already done so much of the major 'start up'. At this point, I feel like I'm just maintaining and fine-tuning my life/home.

I still have several projects that need to be done, but they aren't top priority, so I'm procrastinating. For one, I need to get all the pictures in the house together in ONE spot! I've been putting them in a box as I find them, but I still need to take that box, the other boxes, and the various albums and get them all sorted and organized. I'd like to have all my photos in albums by date (or a general timeline). I'd also like to do some kid-specific scrapbooks with blank pages to keep updating through the years.

I feel like I"ve done a great job maintaining the laundry, living and bed rooms, but I'm really slacking in the kitchen. I only have enough dishes and silverware as we need, but with a family of 6, just one meal racks up a TON of dirties! I feel like the kitchen is a constant battle, so I'm posting it here to get my ass in gear again. I *need* to be more diligent about cleaning as I cook as well as cleaning up RIGHT after meals.

I also have too much fabric. I've tried selling it cheap, I've tried ebay, and I've sold some but still have more. It's not a ton compared to some of my friends, but it's a lot to me. Anyone know of a charity that sews? I'd love to donate it to someone who will actually sew for charity. I tried a diapering company that donates diapers to low-income families, but they said they didn't need it. I gave some a while back to a friend who was supposed to sew and then donate the diapers to that same charity, and I'm fairly certain it's still sitting at her house untouched :( There's a great sewing room at the center in Oaxaca, but customs likes to steal packages- nice, huh?

So those are my 2 new goals: Maintain the kitchen better & get this fabric out of here!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Major Thing Happened Today...

Okay, so it won't seem major to most anyone else, but to me, it was huge.

A friend emailed me today to say she would be in town tomorrow. She wanted to meet up somewhere, but my very first thought was 'just come hang out here at my house'.

I can't remember a time when I WANTED someone to see my house. Normally, my first thought is what I can do to be sure someone WON'T see my house. For example, at my old job, I would meet up with co-workers to visit clients. Sometimes, if the clients were near one of our homes, we would just meet at someone's house and go from there. When it was MY house, I'd make up some reason why we had to meet at the first appointment because I was deathly afraid someone would want to come in to use the bathroom.

Not anymore :)

C'mon Over! Anytime!

Monday, September 11, 2006

My 9/11 Story.

So today's the day we all remember. I'm going to take a break from my usual posts and share my story. Everyone has a 9/11 story, and here is mine:

It was my 2nd day in the new office. I'd been working for the same company for 4 years but moved to a different location, so I was already familiar with everyone. Our Sales Manager had her radio on and heard the first reports of a plane. She and I hovered at her radio listening. More reports. More planes. So we headed next door to the office with a TV. That entire office of 25ish people here all sitting there. watching. completely silent. eerily silent.

And then I remembered my sister. She had just taken a new job in Manhattan. I knew it wasn't at the WTC, but I didn't know where or how close. I didn't even have a number. So I called my other sister. She was in a meeting, but they got her out. She had a number, called, everything was fine. But for about an hour there, I had a creepy, dark feeling, and it was pretty freakin' scary. I talked to her that night, and she told me about it all. She saw the 2nd tower fall. They had gone to the top of their building to watch the commotion after the first one fell. She started to walk away, heard a crash, turned around, and the 2nd one was gone.

She and her boyfriend, to this day, still consider themselves to have post-traumatic stress disorders because of it. But thankfully, they did not know anyone who was a victim. They had one friend who worked at the WTC, but he was late for work that day and spared.

At my work, we sat there the rest of the day in silent shock. We did our duties, but no one really spoke. No laughing, just everyone thinking. Which, if you knew about me and my co-workers, you would know how serious that is.

When I got home, I couldn't stop watching CNN. It was all the same thing over and over again, but I just couldn't look away. When I went to work the next day, my boss told me that he had had the same thing happen when he went home.

It was just complete and utter disbelief.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Interesting Read about Diapers

I think a lot about diapers. Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the overall effect of cloth vs. disposable. Yes, using cloth- natural fibers in particular- will lessen what I leave on this planet. And for me, that reason is good enough.

But...I read all these websites advocating FOR cloth, and it makes me wonder. Overall, how do they REALLY compare? You know, it takes pesticides to grow conventional cotton. It takes energy to produce the fabric, gas to get the fabric to you, energy to run your washing machine, etc, etc, etc. The argument that has always bothered me is the "disposables are filling our landfills" statements. When I was in college a thousand years ago, I got a degree in Anthropology. During my stint as a student, I did a report on something called "Garbology"- taking garbage and landfills and using their contents in anthropological studies. I remember reading that a common misconception is that disposable diapers are filling our landfills, that in fact, they are a very small percentage of what is found.

So that's the history of what lead me to do a search today for "Garbology + Diapers" to see what I could come up with. And here's what I found: Beyond The Pail. It's long, but a very interesting read.

That said and read, I still think cloth is better. Hands Down. :)

Commercial-Free Parenting

I hate TV. Well, mostly I just hate commercials. I try to stick with PBS and Boomerang since they have cartoons but no commercials. PBS has added a few here and there between shows, but nothing flashy or blingy. I loathe Nickelodeon. I swear, it seems like every commercial is about how to make your little girl more like a teenage ho. And in that train of thought- who was the evil person that created Bratz dolls????? Not only is is offensive to refer to them as "brats", but they look like HOOKERS. Plain and simple. And I used to think Barbie was bad! She's a respectable woman now compared to those little sluts!!!

And Cartoon Network? Uh yeah...they advertise WEIGHT LOSS products between shows. Nice.
But back to commercials....They really hurt the simplicity quest. I get the toys all streamlined and basic. Good for creativity and thoughful play. Then they are bombarded with commercials for useless junk and convinced that they "need" it. I guess in reality, though, it's my responsibility to police the TV better, so I guess I'm typing this "out loud" in an attempt to hold myself more accountable and DO SOMETHING about it.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Fair Trade ?

What makes something "Fair Trade"? I get the concept, paying a fair wage to farmers/workers, right? But who governs this? Who says what is fair?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

NO MORE CARPET! and more ramblings...

Woo Hoo! This has been an ongoing project over the last few years. We had only one room left with carpet: ours. Monday, the hubby pulled it all up, and we went to Home Depot for some wood laminate flooring. He's been working on it 2 nights now, and it should be complete tonight. After that first night, I could tell a HUGE difference. I didn't wake up but one time, and that was to nurse the baby. Last night was the same. You just don't know what that means to me! I'm the kind of person that wakes up EVERY morning with a stuffy nose and sore thought. Not the last 2 mornings, though :)

On a different note, we all know the W Mart controversy. But, I just wanted to say that I was there yesterday, and they had a pack of Cushies cloth diapers in the baby section. I was totally shocked.

Since the bombardment of holidays is almost upon us, what are some of you doing to combat the crapalanche that happens because of family?

I've been practicing my crochet skills. They are pretty non-existent, but I completed my very first diaper cover this morning! It is ugly as heck, but I'm proud of it! I bought some cheap acrylic yarn to start out with and practice before I dive into some soft, nice wool for the babe.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The ease of Simplicity

Well...I had a nasty head-cold the first part of the week and that set the mood for the whole week: SLACKER. My daughters are having a friend spend the night tonight, so I got up knowing I would have to clean today.

Thanks to the purging and cleaning of the past, it was a BREEZE. Even after not maintaining through the week, I was able to get the kitchen, Living Room, and Bathroom looking just fine for company (I had the kids clean their own rooms last night).

It was also interesting, because I was able to pinpoint some areas that still need more work. Like, I have a set of coffee cups and then saved 3-4 of the old ones, too. I now realize we don't need that many. All we did was let them pile up in the sink.

The childrens' clothes are looking GREAT. I narrowed it down to 10 outfits per kid, so I only have to wash 2X a week, and really only once if I want. I washed all their dirty clothes this morning in ONE load!!! There are still some stragglers in my hamper, but I'm getting through those now. I don't put anything in the drawers until it is ALL clean and can be paired up in outfits before going in the dresser.

Now just as long as no one decides to open MY door, it's all good.

Remember how I said I wanted to follow through with sponsoring a student in Oaxaca? Well, it's in the works! Officially! I had a big sale on my website and sold ...are you ready... $750 in cloth diapers. So, my treat to myself is to send $150 to Oaxaca Street Children Grassroots. My husband says that's not much of a personal treat, so I also bought some rugs for the bathroom. LOL. He says I don't know *how* to buy something just for me. So I had him make reservations for Sunday to eat at the hotel we got married at :) Now I think he's pleased.

And here's the best part- I've already put $250 in savings. That might sound like pennies to you, but I've NEVER been able to save, so to see to that is great for me. I'm making it a challenge to see how much I can have left at the end of the month. I read a tip in a book to write down your goals and keep them near your money. Everytime you start to spend, look at that list and decide if it's worth it, or if you would rather save the money to get closer to your goal. I don't have the physical list, but I'm mentally thinking that EVERY time I make a purchase. I've logged on to a fabric store online about 5 times in the last 3 days and then "x" out when I think of my list :)

~~~~Healthy Eating Update~~~
We've decided to go Organic/Freerange/Humane/Whateveryouwannacallit on our meat from here on out. It's going to take a little adjustment at first- finding places to buy from, so we won't go 100% from the get-go, but within a few months, we should be. We found some farms nearby that do beef, poultry, and pork. We just have to get a freezer so we can buy large quantities to save money. We can get Grassfed Beef at Publix now, but it's $6.99/lb. OUCH. So we are also going to reduce the amount of meat we eat overall. The less but more concept. The "supersize me" mentality we have been raised on is a hard one to beat, but it's our goal. It's especially hard for my husband who is 6'4" and 300 lbs, but I know he can do it. He has a willpower that I could never comprehend. I guess it comes from hardcore Buddhist training. We also feel the Organic meat options will do our Karma some good, but I won't go into our philosophies on that here ;) (they're pretty wierd to most, a mix of Buddhist values and Evolution).

Have a great day!