Monday, December 7, 2020

A Minimalist on the Move

 In 2010 I read a book that changed my life.  It was called "The Minimalist Parent" and it described in detail how stressful it is for children to be surrounded by stuff.  It suggested that a child should have access to only the amount of toys they could clean up in 10 minutes and that tidying up before bed was critical to a good night's sleep.

As the parent of 5 children, this was very freeing to me.  It made sense that a child should be able to take responsibility for cleaning up after themselves quickly and that the problem of mess wasn't that my kids were bad at picking up after themselves (although ....), but it was due to the fact that they were able to take out more things than they could manage to put away. Reducing the number of toys my children had access to helped (we rotated toys by keeping them in boxes).  

This principle of only having the amount of stuff we could manage to keep tidy has been a part of our lives ever since.  We reduced laundry by reducing wardrobe and why have 20 towels when we could have 10 and wash them more often? Each child had about 5 outfits and two pairs of shoes with extras being stored away until their current clothing needed to be replaced.  This made getting ready for school or church much easier because it reduced decision fatigue.

Another benefit for only keeping and maintaining what we need and not accumulating piles of unnecessary stuff means that moving is greatly simplified.  Each child had a box of their special items and a suitcase of clothing and as a veteran of 10 moves in the last 20 years, this has been very helpful.

Minimalist Moving tips:

1.) One month before the move get rid of everything you do not love. This includes furniture.  If it would cost less to replace it than it will cost to move it - get rid of it. Every time I move I sell a great deal of our furniture and then replace it once we are in our new house.  I've never had a furniture budget and most of what I buy is off of craigslist, at thrift stores, and Facebook marketplace.  I don't like the quality of most furniture that is available these days and I can appreciate an older piece made with quality materials that might need some love and attention more than anything I've ever gotten at Ikea. I've usually been able to buy good enough second-hand pieces that I can sell them for a profit and be able to outfit our new place with slightly better pieces.  It's a lot of work but each piece I own has its story and I really like it that way.

2.) Start packing everything you do not use on a daily basis. Things in closets, attics, under beds, garage, less used kitchen items, tools, decorations.  

3.) Use only three standard sizes of moving boxes, small (for heavy things like books), Medium, and large (for bedding and pillows.) Fill every box to capacity or they will crush when stacked. IF you have a box that has gaps in it, fill in the gaps with excess washcloths and towels.  I packed my entire kitchen without having to buy packing material by using my kitchen towels, hot pads, and washcloths. 

4.) Two weeks from loading the moving truck start camping: pack a suitcase   (include towels) and reduce the kitchen to the minimum. Eat everything from your freezer and pantry that you can possibly eat.

5.) One week from loading the moving truck stage all your boxes. You will want to pack the least important stuff first and the most important stuff last (beds, kitchen, clothing)

6.) Moving day: pack the truck with the heaviest items on the bottom (furniture, appliances), Medium boxes in the middle, and lightest boxes on the top which means the small boxes will be on the bottom and the large boxes on the top.  It sounds wrong but it works as long as you pack your boxes together to make cubes, rows, and stacks that are as even as possible. As you pack the truck use ratcheting tie-downs and boards to brace each section.  Things will shift in the truck and you don't want the whole load to jump out of the truck when you open the doors. Pack to the ceiling and pack it tight!

7.) After the truck is packed take one last bath with Epsom salt (your muscles will thank you), grab your suitcase and plants, and head to your new home!

8.) At some point you will need to put laptop computers, important documents, cleaning supplies, box cutters, a few towels, and toilet paper, paper plates and cups, and maybe a case of water and some snacks in a box that you take with you to the new house,  You won't want to be heading to the store the first time someone needs to go to the bathroom and realizes there is no toilet paper!

9.) Truck Arrival: establish a command center with computers and important documents.  As the truck is unloaded focus on setting up a functional kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping area. If you have movers hopefully you marked your boxes "kitchen, master bedroom" etc, instead of "blender, extra closet". You want them marked as the room they will be going to, not the contents or the area of the house it came from.

10.) Once all the boxes have been brought to their designated rooms, unpack and get rid of the boxes. Date any remaining boxes, label the contents, and seal.  Anything that hasn't been opened in over a year can probably be donated.

I'm sure everyone does things in a way that makes sense to them. This is my method and it works for me. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to know where and how to start and it actually doesn't matter where and how you start. Just start!

Blog's not dead

 Hello to whoever subscribed to this blog! I've been silent the last 5 years for a number of reasons but as this blog has been somewhat a chronicle of my life as a mother and my oldest son just graduated high school this year, I am feeling nostalgic. 2020 has been a year of metamorphosis and every challenge that I and my family have faced has lead to growth.  Some of it painful, but all of it necessary and good. I started this blog when my family moved to Philadelphia for 6 months (in 2008) and now we are 9 days away from moving to Tenessee permanently. It feels good and right to document this move and this life change. 

Friday, April 15, 2016


If depression were a flavor, it would taste like a glass of water.
Colorless and tasteless.
You could drink a bellyful and still be hungry.

If loneliness were a smell, it would smell like sunshine.
You could wake up on a beautiful summer day and inhale deeply,
  but never smell it's warmth.

If doubt were a sound it would sound the the echo of a footfall
 at the other end of a carpeted hallway.
      Did you hear that?

  But love, like water poured on a fist closed tight,
    seeps all the way to its center.

And love, like the afternoon sun surrounding the coatless beggar,
  warms his upturned cheek and clasps his frostbit fingers.

And love, like doubt, is a mystery and a wonder.
  How do you know it has tiptoed past?


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Colder than the heat of the snow

I see you laying in our bed
  and I lay in your shadow
The back side of your face a wall
  that does not break and will not fall
It's frozen in sunlight and covered in frost
   You're colder than ice but without you I'm lost

Your back is warm against my skin
   as I lay in your shadow
My lips are numb my heart's on fire
   and I burn without your aloe
I'm in flames but I'm afraid to show
  because you're colder than the heat of the snow

Drifting in sleep like the drifts of the snow
   as I lay within your shadow
I feel you breath through the sheets in our bed
I hear your sighs like a song in my head
I long for the dawn but don't want you to go
  You're the taste of the sunrise and the heat off the snow.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The poem I read every January ...

When I Consider How My Light Is Spent

John Milton1608 - 1674
When I consider how my light is spent,
   Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
   And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
   My true account, lest He returning chide;
   “Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
   Either man’s work or His own gifts. Who best
   Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed,
   And post o’er land and ocean without rest;
   They also serve who only stand and wait.”

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Winter Solstice

There is less daylight everyday
The sun burns through the sky
In ever shrinking circles

I watch the band of darkness grow
And know
That once the light becomes a golden ring
My lips will close
Beneath these songs I sing.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Don't be her shadow

I don't know if any of you have ever had to deal with the repercussions of a suicide but the amazing thing about it is how far reaching the effects are.  People you don't even know are hurt by it.  I wrote this after my niece's best friend hung herself.  I was afraid she might be tempted to do the same.  Normally I wouldn't share something so deeply personal and obviously painful but ... if somewhere in the vast world that is the internet someone reads this and realizes that suicide is an atom bomb of pain and devastation- maybe they will be inclined to seek help.

Don’t be her shadow

She hung her head and cried.
You said, “Your pain is my pain.”
She hung her head and cried.

She cut her wings and fell that day
She cut her wings and fell.
“Fall on my bed, you say I’ll catch your fall.”
You couldn’t know she wouldn’t call.

She gasped and choked,
She gasped and choked

You said, “I’ll catch ..
You said, “I’ll fall ..

She wept and said nothing at all.

She is not you, you are not she
I am not you, you are not me
And what comes next is what is true

If you were me and I were you -
I’d cling to something that won’t shake -
That will not fall
That cannot break
That will not leave
That won’t forsake
    - and cannot die
And loves you no matter what you try.

-JM Dec 18,2014

Oh Love That Will Not Let Me Go
Oh, love that will not let me go
I rest my weary soul in thee
I give you back the life I owe
And in your ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be

My life is not my own
It's yours
My life is not my own
I know it's yours

Oh, light that follows all my way
I yield my flickering torch to thee
And my heart restores its borrowed ray
That in your sunshine's blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be

So light a fire in my heart
And I'll burn for you
So light a fire in my heart
And I'll burn for you

Oh, joy, that seeks me through the pain
I cannot close my heart to thee
I trace the rainbow through the rain
And feel the promise is not in vain

That morn shall tearless be

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