Blogging, Teething and Reading.

The archival quality of a blog has already proved useful. I ended up reading through older entries last night, particularly the ones about Noah’s progress in decluttering his toys, and I was surprised by how well we had actually done. I was pretty impressed with us at the time but even more so when looking back. It was very inspirational and has me working on getting more “junk” out of our home. I also am able to let go of more sentimental things, like Olivia’s clothes that she is quickly outgrowing. I actually have a friend that is due in March with a baby girl so I have a good place to pass on the nicer stuff that I wish got more wear. :) Definitely works for me!

Also, as far as Olivia’s growing goes: she’s now 13 months old, an expert crawler and a ham! She loves to laugh and loves to make people laugh. It is rare that people look at Liv and not see her either smiling or ready to break one out. Her smiles are also still very gummy…oddly, she didn’t cut her first tooth until very close to her birthday last month. She’s actively cutting 6 teeth right now (4 on top, 2 on the bottom) and getting ready to get her first year molars in. Poor girl has been fussy (for her) for a few days now and she’s not sleeping as soundly as she was. She’s also nursing all day long and frequently through the night even though she eats solids regularly.

She’s not walking yet, either. She’s almost ready, has it down physically, but mentally she will not let go. If she realizes she’s standing independently, she deliberately leans forward to put her weight on something. Instead of hitting this milestone and taking off with it, she’s decided to pick up words. Baby sign, verbal, whatever. She was very quiet before and now she’s absorbing whatever words she can. Whether she repeats them or not is entirely up to her (mostly, she doesn’t) but understanding the meaning behind them and expanding her vocabulary is something else.

Noah isn’t letting her be the only impressive one in the house, though. He’s picked up reading through phonics (no program, just me teaching him the way I was taught by my mother). What we – Joshua and I – didn’t expect was for him to grasp the concepts so quickly. He went from reading 3 letter words to reading whatever he sees. It is not unusual to find him in his bed, reading a book. He also reads the names of episodes on Netflix, signs, instructions, etc. If it has words, he reads it. This does mean that all internet browsing is SFW (Which it generally is anyway, but we’re Redditors and stuff tends to pop up.) because he has been known to read our monitors over our shoulders.

I realize that at five years old, reading is a pretty typical skill, but the genuine love for reading that Noah has brings me great joy. I hope that my kids will be readers for the span of their lives. Books are knowledge and adventures. Thanks to books, I’ve rarely been bored in my life. Hopefully they won’t be, either.

Social Media Clutter

I’ve been a little naughty tonight. Instead of dishes and walking the dog, I decided to sit down at my desk and clear up some of my social media profiles (especially my poor Twitter account). I’m actually glad I’m doing this because I hadn’t realized how out of hand it has gotten.

You see, I enter a lot of giveaways, or used to. Especially in the cloth diapering community, there are tons of giveaways put out where you can get a free wetbag or free diaper or free accessory. Everyone likes to win things, right? So a lot of people enter these giveaways and then nothing is thought of it unless we win. I don’t often win…in fact, I’ve won exactly two giveaways. (One for a pack of coupons back in 2008 and one earlier this year to an online company that makes stickers based on internet memes. That one was more for Joshua, I admit, but it felt really good to win, and we use stickers in this house.) Do you know how many giveaways I’ve entered? I don’t. Hundreds, maybe thousands, over the years

That doesn’t seem like a problem, I’m sure. After all, it doesn’t hurt to toss your name into the virtual hat, right? But it is, at least for someone interested in minimalism and decluttering one’s life. You see, these giveaways usually mean you have to do something for extra entries. Rarely can you just write a blog comment or hit “enter now” like you used to. Now you have to follow a Facebook profile or a Twitter personality or “tweet” about the giveaway…and when you do that multiple times, every day, you start contributing to the mass amounts of online spam out there. I looked at my Twitter profile recently and I mentally gagged. There was so much clutter spam and all of it was unnecessary!

Then there was Facebook. I was logging in and getting slammed by around 500 pages I had “liked” for giveaways. Yuck! I only actually read like two blogs on Facebook and that’s because I like their discussion questions. So I had to clear out all of those “likes”. That was time consuming, and also ridiculous. All of this was contributing to my virtual clutter, which is a very real thing.

And my email…goodness gracious. I think I’ve unsubscribed from 50+ mailing lists this past month, many of them duplicates (because I’d forget I signed up and what email address I was using since I have multiple for different things). I already get a lot of legitimate email…seeing emails from blogs I’m already following somewhere else or subscribed to their RSS feed was a bit much. Oh, and some of them were newsletters to “crunchy” (natural parenting) stores which encouraged me to spend money and buy THINGS and take advantage of sales and…you get the idea.

To add to this, I started thinking about the giveaways. Yes, it was for free stuff. Did I need the free stuff? Well…no. We have plenty of wetbags. We have plenty of diapers. I do enter giveaways for gift cards, because I can always use those to cut down our money output, and I do enter giveaways for Kitchenaid mixers (at the PW’s blog) because I covet one so much and I would actively use it. But…the rest of the stuff? I don’t need it. I don’t WANT it. I think it hit me when I entered in for an all-in-one diaper that used microfiber (a substance I avoid if I can help it) and I didn’t even want to win the product, I just wanted to win.

So yeah. To sum it up, I’ve stopped entering into online giveaways unless it requires very little from me but blog loyalty (easy enough, if it’s a good blog) and doesn’t require me to “like” 25 Facebook pages or “tweet” a bunch of spam about that one giveaway or “follow” 50 Twitter personalities. I just want to get online, do my thing, enjoy the internet and get back off to spend time with my kids. I’m sick of wading through unnecessary emails and missing important announcements on Facebook thanks to the ever-growing “innocent spam”. So I’m not.


Bittersweet Purging

There is always a sense of accomplishment when I get rid of stuff we no longer need. I feel a little more free and a lot less cluttered in my mind.

Unfortunately, sometimes it is a little bittersweet. One of the hardest things for me to declutter are my kids’ clothes. Noah’s aren’t so bad any more…he outgrows stuff about every year now, and it’s not a huge jump when he does (or it is, depending on how you look at it, I guess). Olivia’s are harder. She turned 3 months old this past Thursday and she’s transitioning into 6 month clothing. Yes, my little newborn barely-a-7-pounder is now 14 pounds and long and huge. Still itty bitty to hold compared to her brother at three months old, but huge.

However, as bittersweet as it is, it must be done. Thankfully, I can give a lot of it to my cousin, Michelle, who is expecting this June, because many things were “gender neutral” or “boyish” hand-me-downs from Noah. I saved some favorites, of course, but for the most part, there is a pretty big haul headed her way and most of it is in pristine condition because Noah wore it once and Liv wore it once or not at all. So there is a positive, definitely, in knowing that these clothes are going to my little nephew (technicalities aside).

Then there is the benefit of having more space, of course. I re-organized her drawers and hanging clothes and there is a lot more room for everything, which is nice. There is a whole range of sizes (newborn to 3 months) that I am no longer holding onto. There are a bunch of clothes that fit her but aren’t the nicest (like heavy staining) that I could get rid of, because we are blessed to have a good bit of clothes for her 6 month size to add to the “nice” 3 month stuff. My mom, grandmother, aunt and cousin Alexa have been especially sweet in picking out goodies for Olivia and then I found a good deal on Carter’s onesies.

So, yeah, I suppose there is an upside, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t going to shed a few tears over her rapidly disappearing newborn days. Three months is kind of a big one. Ah, babies. At least there is so much to look forward to.

Oh! And speaking of babies and gifts and clothes… a couple of weeks ago, I went to Michelle’s baby shower and got to feel her baby bump. Woohoo! I’m so excited for her and her husband. I mean, I felt that baby bump and I started to cry! Anyway, I bring this up because I forgot to post pictures at the time and my mom is probably reading this and thinking “Finally! She takes forever.” I love you, Mom. Now here are those pictures. =P

(Click to enlarge.)

And just for fun:

More Noah Progress

Noah went through more of his non-plushie toys today. We are trying not to push him too hard, but we do try to steer him towards certain toys or set certain limits for him. When we see that he’s hit a wall in the decluttering process for the day, we stop, and we praise him for being able to let go of stuff that he really won’t miss. (In fact, he has not asked for anything we decluttered together – not even the stuffed animals! – and it’s been a week for some of it.) At four, the idea is to teach him about not hoarding, not being a pack rat and learning that less can be more, especially since the less you own, the more time you can spend playing and the less time you spend cleaning!

I do find myself having to watch my words, because sometimes I want to say, “but you play with that so much!” and really I ought to say, “okay, sure. Why this one?” (and the latter question is just to make sure he’s thought it through). Perry the Platypus from the last post is a great example; I felt like he played with Perry a lot but he felt like it was too frustrating of a toy.

In addition to the stuffed animals, this is the box of toys he has chosen to get rid of:

I’m glad to see that green skull go and the train tracks will be sold so he can have some pocket money. It surprises me what ends up leaving but, truly, he has so many toys that he has no room for new ones and there are already a couple of things on his personal wishlist to get.

While I’m at this, I’ll share my own bit of decluttering today. (I tend to focus on my stuff or Noah’s stuff or else it gets overwhelming for me and, well, chores still need to get done.) I love the Forever stamps provided by the USPS and I had bought multiple books back in 2006 and 2008 when I needed to mail wedding invitations and birth announcements, respectively. Since I overbought, we’ve been using these stamps since and a lot of the $0.39 and $0.02 and $0.41 stamps were in a pile, getting unused. Today, Joshua looked up the cost of postage for one letter ($0.45 now!) and I did a little math to use up most of what was left. This is the result:

Not too shabby. Getting rid of clutter (yes, this counts!), and saving some money without any effort. Love it!


Decluttering Sentimentals

It’s hard to let go of sentimental items. Everyone I talk to about minimalism and decluttering has admitted that, even though they want the space and lack of clutter in their life. I actually managed to get rid of a lot of sentimental things last year when I went through my dad’s stuff and only kept a very few items, like his coach shirt from when I played softball.

Lately, it’s been more of a “I just don’t want to get rid of this because I like it” and that had me at a standstill. I mean, you can say “I like it and I want to keep it” about pretty much anything you own. You did buy it, after all. Then you may have added some sort of sentimental tag to it and you’ll say it over and over while it weighs on your mind.

That’s been my problem. My most recent round of decluttering was to finally go over to our shelf that displays a lot of our “pretty” things (like my Willowtree collection) and pull out the things I didn’t want to keep. I kept a Precious Moments snowglobe to give to one of the kids but decided to donate a plastic one I paid $3 for in a souvenir shop. (Actually, Noah is playing with it for now because he’s never really used a snowglobe before but it’s going to be donated.)

I decided to share a few examples. You can see my progress from about 15 minutes of work. Imagine all of these items together and then think about how much space I’ve cleared up to devote to things we care about more!

I bought this because I thought it was pretty and then kept it, intending to give it to a future daughter. Now I have a daughter and the cup set is cracked. Whoops.

I don’t think these are sake cups but I’m not sure. I used them to hold random trinkets – trinkets I no longer have.

A glass cat I just kind of ended up with. I loved it and kept it because it reminded me of my huge cat, Omega, but the ear is chipped and Omega lives with someone else now. This figurine might actually cause more pain than happiness, so off it goes.

I bought this at Goodwill once, intending to use it for jewelry. Well, I have a jewelry box and very little jewelry as it is, so this has been on a bookshelf since I bought it.

To tell you the truth, I don’t remember where this came from. When my dad died, it ended up back in my possession, so I never let it go. I’d look at it and say, “I could declutter that!” but then I would pause, think of the sentiment and keep it. No need, any more.

I bought this little cat faux painting at a thrift store when I was 11 or so. I kept it for so long because I like the idea of it and I had it sitting in my bathroom at my dad’s apartment when I was a preteen but it’s been over a decade, now. Time to let it go.

So you see, I kept a lot of this stuff simply because I “wanted” to, but now that I’ve made the decision to let it go, I don’t actually miss any of it. I also found that by getting through this hurdle, I’ve broken past my block and I can continue purging stuff that I no longer want to keep. I’m still learning to look past, “but I like this” and go to, “do I like something else better?” I actually learned that lesson from helping Noah go through his plushies!

(The park entry will have to wait. I apparently have 200+ pictures to wade through before I can post any. Thanks to terminal and Joshua, I can re-size them all at once with a simple command, so that won’t make me drag my feet at least.)