Monday, December 29, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Extra Stuff

For the past almost two years now, I've been on a slow mission to rid myself of extra stuff. I just taught my kindergartners the meaning of the word "extra" last week in the context of teen numbers, and how they are one group of 10, plus some "extra." Extra is the stuff beyond what we need to fill ourselves up. I use need lightly. I don't need my Kindle Paperwhite like I need food, but I use it on a daily basis. Max does not need his Little Tikes office/house thing that he borrowed from his BFF, but he plays with it every day and is learning how to climb, sort shapes, and open and close things with it. Stuff is inevitable, and that's okay.
I will never be a minimalist. I will read minimalist blogs, listen to their podcasts and at times (when I don't feel like cleaning and organizing)I will wish I was a minimalist. But I will never be one. That will not stop me from getting rid of stuff whenever possible. This is not a post about how to be a minimalist, you can find more about that from people much better at it than me. This is just what I have done so far. Maybe it will give you an idea or some motivation :)
I've read some books: 7- An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess and Simplicity Parenting
I've read some blogs: The Art of Simple, Zen Habits, Be More With Less, and Our Little Apartment (Ashley wrote a great post about how to decide what to get rid of. I love her concept of "would I replace this item if it was lost?" If the answer is no, get rid of it.)
I've listened to some podcasts: The Art of Simple and Minimalism for the Rest of Us
I've gotten rid of stuff: In the past, I donated almost exclusively to Goodwill. But now, I have so many things I do with my stuff I am getting rid of. I still donate quite a bit, but I also learned about the many "Yard Sale" groups on Facebook where you can post items. I'm a member of an awesome "closet sharers" group for kids clothes/items. I have already sold multiple items on there. I also love to sell back my clothes (I haven't done any of Max's yet because we are not sure what our future plans for kids are). My favorite company is Twice. I've written about them before and I continue to think this is the best company for selling back clothes. I usually get $50-$80 back for a large bag of clothes and it honestly could NOT be any easier. I've also used Thred Up which is good for selling back cheaper quality brands (they take more brands and actually they take kids clothes too)- I only got $11 back when I sold to them, but most of the time I'd take no money to just get this stuff out of my house!
I've tried to lower the amount of stuff coming in: I've done a "No Buy November." I was a crazy researcher about baby stuff and tried not to get too much. Of course, this is relative, some people would say I have WAY more than necessary but I have borrowed a lot and given away or sold anything we didn't use. We have switched to event gifts with many family members. Overall, I've just looked more critically at items coming into the house and tried to not buy things that I didn't really love/wouldn't use a lot.
My motivation for doing all this is that I hate cleaning but I like to live in a reasonably clean space. My mom says everyone hates cleaning, but I think I hate it even more than the average person. I also hate not knowing where something is when I want it. I hate when thinking about stuff and where it is or where I'm going to put it occupies my precious time.
I still have a long way to go. In 2015 I want to get better at the 1 in, 1 out rule (I never do this and I need to). But I've started. I've started thinking more critically about what I really want to do with my space and what I want in it. For a girl who used to hoard an absurd amount of stuff under her bed as a child, this is a start :)
How do you keep clutter under control?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Max: 11 Months

Merry Christmas! I hope everyone had a wonderful day :) I can't believe I haven't posted since December 1st. Where did this month go? I actually started a bunch of posts but never had a chance to actually finish and post them. The month of December is a crazy one for a teacher… well probably for everyone. I'm just thankful Max didn't really understand the concept of Christmas this year so I didn't have to deal with a crazy kid at home and at school. 

Max turned 11 months on the 17th, which means he is very very close to being 1 year old. I can't believe it! This time of the year last year was extremely stressful and I'm just so thankful to be where I am now rather than back then. 

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Technically, Max is still a baby for a few more weeks, though he feels more and more like a kid every day. He loves to eat, there is really nothing he won't eat. He doesn't discriminate between food he can eat himself and food that is fed to him (though he may try to grab the spoon). If I am feeding him but he is paying attention to something else (his dad being silly), he will look straight at Eric but open his mouth for the food I'm about to put in. 

He loves to move and only rarely lets us hold him. Even when he is nursing, he is typically moving all over the place kicking and hitting me at the same time. He will sometimes get himself in a sitting position and try to nurse that way. He wants to be down and crawling around as much as possible. He can be playing with his toys in his play area one second and then ten seconds later be halfway up the stairs. He continues to use his unique crawl, but he is SO fast with it. When he is upstairs, he loves to crawl into the treadmill room and go up on the treadmill. I guess he understands that the treadmill is for exercise because he likes to crawl back and forth on it as quickly as he can. 

His other favorite thing upstairs is his dad's guitar. He quickly found it in the closet and will sit for a long period of time just strumming on the guitar listening to the music it makes. Not even his most ADD toys with flashing lights and music can compare to the entertainment of the guitar. 

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He had a new toy this month, both at our house and my parents, the Christmas tree (photo above from my parent's house). When we first put up the tree, he was actually kind of scared of it. He would sit a few feet away and kind of whine at the tree. Once he became comfortable enough to explore it, he liked to touch some of the lower ornaments and the lights. But overall I was surprised at the number of times that he crawled right by the tree without paying too much attention to it. 

Max loves dogs. While we try not to let any dogs TOO close, he has been able to see my brother's dog and Eric's parent's dog for his whole life (all 11 months of it, ha ha). He still thinks dogs are amusing and he is not scared of them at all. He is also obsessed with his "lovey" which is a doggie blanket with tags hanging off of it (made by the Taggies brand). He sleeps with his doggie every night and at every nap. He loves to cuddle with it and suck on it while he falls asleep. 

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Max's new skills include clapping and standing up. He loves to clap or hold our hands to make us clap. I may be creating a baby who believes someone will clap for him every time he does the most minor thing. Oops. He can also stand up without holding on, and I think he will be taking more than a step or two in the very near future. Right now he is a bit hesitant about it, so he usually sits down once he realizes he is actually standing. 

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On the Christmas front, Max did great with the Christmas events. We had quite a few people at our house on Christmas Eve and he was quite happy about it. On Christmas Day, he took an epically long nap, allowing his mom and dad to eat Christmas dinner in peace. He was not at all interested in opening presents, but he didn't mind playing with them! Not surprisingly, he was spoiled by his family members and friends. It was refreshing and funny to see that even with all the new toys he received, he still wanted to play most with his play office/house that he borrowed from his best friend Teddy. When we tried to get him to open his presents, all he really wanted was to read his favorite book, Little Blue Truck. 

He loves to "talk" and says Dada, Daddy and Baby frequently. He has started to throw in a Mum every once in awhile just to make sure he still gets fed (kidding). He makes the P sound as well, which we take to mean Pops. It's hard to tell if he knows the meaning of these words or not. Sometimes I think he definitely does, like when he crawls up the stairs on weekend mornings and heads right for the door that he knows his dad is sleeping behind, all the while saying "Dada, Dada, Dada." But then other times he is yelling "BABY BABY" at his toy and I'm thinking he may not know who the baby really is… :) 

Likes: He still loves everything that he loved at 10 months, with some new additions. He loves opening and closing doors and cabinets. He even loves closing his own gate- he crawls up the stairs and closes the gate at the top. He likes the bathroom, opening the toilet is also fun as well as the toilet paper roll, and all the cabinets. He loves noodles, mainly the Lo Mein noodles at Chinese restaurants. He loves everything silly

Dislikes: Max still hates getting changed and being in the car when he is tired (but not sleeping). He does not want to sit in a high chair at restaurants. He is definitely a creature of habit and does not love when his routine is messed up particularly at bedtime. Max was also not a huge fan of my rental car I had for the last week and a half while my car was being fixed. I may or may not have told him to hate it...

Eating: Same eating as before: milk 4x per day (3 nursing, 1 pumped bottle while I'm at work), solid food- usually purees, oatmeal, yogurt etc 4x per day. I'm starting to finally let myself believe that we will actually make it to 1 year with nursing (+pumping). That is something I NEVER thought I would say. 

Sleeping: No real change since 10 months. 

Talking: Dada, Daddy, Baby, Mum, P-p-p,  

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Thanks for reading about Max. I'll be back in a few weeks with his ONE YEAR post. What?!

I'll try to be back in the meantime with a few other posts. I want to talk about decluttering and my favorite books of 2014. Hopefully! 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Who Stole the Sanity from the Mom-my?

I did not go into motherhood with rose colored glasses, so you may find it surprising when many of my posts about Max (do I write other posts anymore?) are all rainbows and sunshine. Mostly, I have been happily surprised at how many great things Max has brought into my life and how worth it everything else is. 

But, it's not all rainbows and sunshine. So, thanks Nora for inspiring me to write about the hard stuff. The hard stuff for me anyway.  

*But seriously, these are just mine, you may find totally different things hard and easy… or you may never have a kid, that's fine too (smart actually, ha) I'm really just writing these in case the day comes when I think it's a good idea to have another kid. 

Hard #1: 

The repetitive monotony that is a day with a young child. You can tell by my workouts over the years that I love to change things up. Babies, do not love to change things up. They love routine and structure and diaper changes and naps and more diaper changes and more naps, oh and eating, and more eating. Sometimes I feel like if I have to zip another zipper or do another snap, I may cry. (Disclaimer: I zip a lot of zippers at work too, this may contribute to my irrational hatred of zippers…)

Hard #2: 

The battles. No mom, I don't want to nap. No mom, I don't want to put socks on. No mom, I don't want you to change my diaper. No mom, I don't want to wear clothes. Did you hear me, I am NOT taking a nap? No mom, I do not want this toy because Dad's phone charger looks a lot more interesting. I WILL NOT NAP. Who says babies don't talk? 

Hard #3: 

The crazy increase in the amount of chores necessary with a baby. Every day after work I find myself labeling bottles of milk, organizing milk, washing pumping parts, putting them in the dishwasher, emptying the dishwasher (which I now have to run almost daily), drying the previous day's pumping parts, packing the next day's pumping parts…and probably more involved in pumping I am forgetting. There is also the endless laundry, which again is okay in theory but folding and putting away tiny clothes gets to be time consuming. A baby just adds so much STUFF to do, other than directly take care of the kid. 

Hard #4: 

So you know how kids like schedule and routine and structure? Yeah, they do. But they don't give a crap about keeping your schedule and routine and structure. In fact, they prefer to alter it as much as possible. Having a kid has tested all of my awesome planning skills I used to have. Current example: I have to study for a test for work. I don't have time to study for a test for work (see above) so I made a whole great plan involving waking up 30 minutes early and studying for the test while working out. I figured that I wouldn't miss that much sleep. But then, guess who decided to start waking up for over an hour in the middle of the right? Oh yea… you guessed it. So now I either lose close to 2 hours of sleep, or enjoy those last 30 minutes. You can imagine what is winning. 

Hard #5: 

Before I had a kid, I was always prepared. I brought snacks everywhere, I always had a sweater in case it got cool. At work, I carried tissues and band aides everywhere. I was on top of it. But babies need ALL. THE. STUFF. Food, bottles, sippy cups, hats, jackets, socks, burp cloths, toys, sleep sacks, blankets, diapers, wipes, strollers, loveys, the list goes on. I never NEVER EVER have all the stuff we need. Ever. Every time we go out it's just a waiting game to see what I forgot and hope it's nothing essential. 

Hard #6: 

Mom Brain. I had hoped that Pregnancy Brain was just a short lived form of torture. But, no such luck. It continues into motherhood. Last week I packed all of Max's food, my pumping stuff and a few other things into a big bag for the Cape. I thought I had Hard #5 MASTERED. Until, I basically stepped right over and said bag, and walked right out the door. Without the bag. Insert emergency trip to the grocery store and Babies R Us. Fast forward 24 hours. I accidentally put Max to bed in just a onesie… no sleep sack, no pants. I didn't notice this until almost 2 hours later when I looked at the video monitor and saw Max's bare legs on the screen… It was seriously freezing out so I had to put on the sleep sack… which woke him up… which lead to crying… which lead to me hating myself. Sigh. 

Some days it's just so obvious to me why they make children cute...

Who me? 

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Yes you...

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Couldn't be...

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Then who?

*Photos by Caroline 

Thanks to "Who Stole the Cookies From the Cookie Jar?" for inspiring this post.