Category Archives: Happiness

Week 3: 40 in 40

Spring tulips to inspire spring cleaning

This was a tough week for me in regards to sticking with my pledge to declutter one area per day.

Click on the links below for previous progress reports:

Week 1
Week 2

Day 15: On Wednesday we left Florida to fly back to NJ. Cleaning up the house before we left consisted of putting a few dishes away while Max emptied out a the cabinets. While I put away clean towels he unrolled the toilet paper. Oh, the joys of one-year-olds…

Day 16: It was the same story on Thursday in reverse. I unpacked our bag, he unpacked the laundry hamper. I sorted through the mail. He ransacked the office bookshelves. I’m not complaining and believe me, I love my little darling to pieces. But extra organizing after he went to sleep? It was enough to get the day-to-day tasks done.

Day 17: On Friday we grocery shopped and prepped for the pancakes and pajamas play date we hosted on Saturday morning. Not one specific area got organized, but there were plenty of trips up and down the stairs putting things away.

Day 18: Saturday– party hosting, muffin making and baby guests be darned, I had to pick a small area to declutter. The guest room dresser was a holding ground for random papers and other homeless items. Most of it went in the trash or a donation bag.

Day 19: Sunday– A real purge through a barely-touched tote of middle school pictures, old assignments and other mementos. Goodbye photos of people I haven’t spoken to in 20 years, adios high school memorabilia and au revoir sweet 16 statue. I’m holding on to the memories, not the items. I am keeping my yearbooks, though. They don’t take up much space and I enjoy looking through them every once in a while. I also kept any cards and letters that were heartfelt and handwritten.

Day 20: Monday– Sunday’s photo purge inspired last night’s cleanout of another box of photos that’s been camped out behind the family room couch for a few months. I tossed doubles, dark photos and all the extras that didn’t make it into the album. Remember the days of printing out every single picture? No need to keep the B-List. I’m five years behind in organizing albums. I’m trying to remember the order in which the pictures were taken.

Day 21: Tuesday– Not sure what today will bring… Suggestions?

What’s your favorite tip for staying organized? How about for keeping little ones busy?

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Filed under Happiness, Home & Garden

Living Simply with Children

I cannot praise this book enough! I’ve renewed it from the library twice and have read through it quite a few times. Marie gives solid advice for keeping things simple at home and protecting children from the advertising world. She advocates parents look inside themselves to consider what their values are and how they can live those values. She suggest family meetings and a family mission statement. Most importantly, she tells parents that children learn best by example.

A few statements to ponder:

  • “Marketing aimed at kids has skyrocketed. Corporations now spend more than $2 billion annually on advertising directly targeting children, a more than twentyfold increase in the last decade.” And this book was written in 2003!
  • “Corporations now use psychologists and psychiatrists to perform research on children’s developmental process to better perfect their kid-targeted marketing.” Marie also writes that advertisers aim to surpass parental authority by portraying adults as annoying, nagging and lacking in intelligence.
  • “What many…have convieniently forgotten is that the environmental motto begins with “Reduce” and ends with “Recycle.” Our first obligation to the environment is clearly to consume less, not to recycle more.” She also points out that consuming less allows us to be able to contribute to those in need around the world.

There are many ways to simplify family life such as eating dinner together, reducing commitments and extracurricular activities, and creating family rituals.

What are some ways you have consiously simplified your life?

I am currently on a decluttering mission. I believe that simplifying my space is a starting line for simplifying my life.

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Filed under Baby, Books, Happiness

Books for a Cause

Last month I posted about getting rid of books. A few days later I got a notice in the mail from Big Brothers Big Sisters asking for…drum roll please…book donations (along with other items like clothing and kitchen appliances). And to make things as easy as possible they will actually pick up donations right from your doorstep. The link above allows you to reserve a pick-up day. Simply click on the place where the items will be and they won’t even knock on your door. How easy is that?

I read somewhere (in the comments of a blog that I can’t remember) the suggestion of scheduling a pick-up every so often as a deadline for clearing out clutter. That’s an idea!

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Saturday Morning Sanskrit: Santosha

Good morning! The word of the day is Santosha~contentment.

It’s been a while since the last Saturday Morning Sanskrit post…but I love learning the meaning behind these ancient words so I’m picking it back up where I left off. Before Baby Max came along I was studying Patanjali’s eightfold path.

If you have no idea what I am talking about, click here. The Yamas in the first limb address social behaviors. The Niyamas in the second limb focus on our thoughts and attitudes. There are five niyamas, or personal guidelines, to help us with our thoughts. The second is Santosha, which means contentment.

The dictionary defines contentment as a state of happiness and satisfaction.

Basically Patanjali tells us to be satisfied with what we have. It’s such a simple thought, yet at times it seems impossible. Our consumer-driven culture doesn’t help matters. But according to the ancient texts we really can be content with what we have, it just takes practice.

Contentment arrives when we make the choice to be happy with what we have. It’s not easy going against old habits. Especially old Nordstrom Rack habits when planning a Mexican-themed afternoon fiesta. But I’ve committed to the idea of Santosha~contentment with what I have, so I’m pulling out the summer tote to dig through the pile of dresses I already own to find just the perfect outfit. I’m also reading an amazing book about voluntary simplicity, which I will share more about later this week.

How do you practice contentment with what you have?

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Every Mother Counts

A few weeks ago I spent an afternoon hooked on A Cup of Jo’s Motherhood Around the World series. Joanna featured guest posts from American moms living abroad in various places such as India, Norway and Japan. I loved all of the insight, but the one post that has really stuck with me was written by Jill and Sarah in Congo. These two mamas have their own blog Mama Congo. Their post about a visit to a maternity clinic gives a little glimpse about what life is like in Africa. Needless to say, it’s not easy. My day-to-day dilemmas are small potatoes, but sometimes I find myself swept up in the trivial stuff that just doesn’t matter. Reading something like this reminds me that there are so many people suffering from serious problems like lack of food, water and medical supplies. M and I have decided to dedicate Baby Max’s first birthday to charity. We’re making a small donation to Every Mother Counts and we’ve slipped a short note in with our party invites (that’s not to say we aren’t still planning a festive shindig).

Dear Friends and Family,

We would like to express that your presence is present enough. If you feel inclined to give something, please consider a small donation to a worthwhile cause. We support Every Mother Counts, an organization dedicated to improving maternal and infant health in Africa. Thank you!

Much love,

Angela, M & Max

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Decluttering: Books

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I have a love affair with books. But lately I’ve started to feel overwhelmed by stuff so I’ve decided to get rid of the ones I haven’t read in a few years. My tastes have changed and if I really need to read them again I can check them out at the library. I tried a yard sale last summer, but our house is pretty remote so we didn’t have too many shoppers. After six months of hoarding them in a box in the garage, plus an unsuccessful Craig’s List attempt, I’ve decided to try the online route. I used this link to enter ISBN numbers. I was surprised to find that out of 40-ish books, four were accepted from Powell’s for a grand total of $7.75, which will be deposited in my Paypal account. Powell’s pays shipping via an emailed label. The rest will be donated. It’s a little painful giving away practically new books that I paid retail for, but hopefully I can find a good cause. And remember this lesson when I want to purchase a new book in the future…

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5 Blogs

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A cold wintery sunrise in New Jersey

Five new (to me) blogs I adore:

Slow Your Home: The Simpler Life You Want

The Minimalist Mom

The Simple Year

The Fearse Family

A Cup of Jo

It started with a quest to find the perfect words to politely say “no gifts please” on Max’s birthday party invites. We have Christmas presents that haven’t been taken out of their boxes yet and he just doesn’t need anything. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. We are very lucky to have our needs met. But when it comes to stuff, I really want to simplify. As I mentioned on my About page, I love the idea of minimalism…but I have a hard time letting go of all the excess (like clothes that haven’t been worn in years or my 25-year-old collection of Lisa Frank stickers). As I write this I am inspired to lighten up. I’ve already put my wedding dress on Craigslist and stacked up all of the novels I’ll probably never read again. And if I did, I could just borrow them from the library. Now it’s time to tackle the stationary drawer(s).

What are you holding on to that could go? Do you have any favorite blogs?

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Filed under Baby, Happiness, Lovely Lists