Minimalism game–the June edition

Half of 2015 is over, so that means I’ve been at this minimizing for a half a year. Do I notice a difference in the amount of clutter? I want to say yes, but the answer truly is not really. I don’t really blame myself because it’s obvious I’ve been working pretty hard at this and getting rid of a good amount of stuff.

And yes, I do occasionally buy new stuff, but it’s mostly clothing for two growing boys, and I do get rid of the things they grow out of fairly promptly. So why don’t I notice I difference? Maybe because it’s so gradual? One thing I will say is that I would hate to think what my house would look like right now if I hadn’t started decluttering!

Here’s the list for June:

1) Calendar from 2009
2) Magazine from September 2014
3) Baby bumpers
4) Fleece infant car seat cover
5) Broken scale
6) Magazine from January 2015
7) Bag of odd metal parts
8) Socks with holes
9) Expired soup
10) Gross frying pan
11) Rice cooker
12) Redundant lid
13) One too many pots
14) Remote for nothing
15) Plastic toys
16) Goodie bag items
17) Luggage I’ve had for 12 years and never used
18) Magazine from April 2015
19) Black scarf
20) Purple scarf
21) Magazine from March 2014
22) Blue scarf
23) Stray glove
24) The Club
25) Stray earrings
26) Ugly bracelets
27) Weird skirt
28) Too many monkeys
29) Expired vitamins
30) Cheap toy

Doing less is sometimes more

Like many people who have their first child, I was in a hurry to sign mine up for a lot of classes. Even though he was in full-time daycare, he had to have soccer, music, or something else on the weekends. And even that wasn’t enough, because then we would also try to fit in plays, museums, and whatever else we felt was lacking. When I became pregnant with my second child, I was forced to slow down a bit. At the time, my older son was in a soccer class on Saturday mornings, but that was it. I was so pregnant and uncomfortable toward the end, that I maybe made it to every other class, if that.

soccer

My older son kicks a ball at soccer class while I have to stand in a field for an hour very uncomfortable during my eighth month of pregnancy. 

Now that my second child is almost a year old (where did the time go?), I realize that that soccer class last summer was the last one that my older son was in. We have been relatively busy, and with the getting ready and the travel, an hour-long soccer class could easily eat up three hours of time. And time is one commodity that is non-renewable.

The other thing is that there are weekends when I spend a lot of time and money running around to try to do everything, and in the process, feel like I’ve done nothing. Then, when I ask my son what about the weekend he enjoyed the most, he will almost always say, “Going to the park.” This is somewhat annoying to me because the park is free, you don’t really need advanced planning to go there, and it’s only three blocks away.

Generally I think I could have saved a bunch of time and money, and been more relaxed in general, had we actually planned to do less on the weekends and instead spent time just sitting around in the park. (That would be me and the baby sitting around, while the older one goes off and plays.) So this summer I am resolved to relax more and plan less! This is our last summer before the older child goes to school, and I want it to go by as slowly as possible please!

Laser eye surgery — another minimalist adventure

When surgical vision correction came out many, many years ago, I immediately wanted it. But I was young and it was expensive, and a bit new and scary. But I’ve always liked hiking and outdoor things, and when I was younger, I even enjoyed camping, and always thought how much better it would be if I could participate in those activities without having to worry about my contacts. Of course, I also had a pair of glasses, which I wore at nights and sometimes if I was just hanging out at home. But I’m not one of those people who looks good in glasses, and the weight of them was often enough to give me a headache.

So a few weeks ago, I had Lasik performed. What made me go through with it, after contemplating it for so long? I don’t even know. At one point, a few years ago, when I started writing, I thought a good reward for me when I sold books would be the surgery. (Yes, I thought of surgery as a reward.) Anyway, I realized that I had made more in profits than the cost of the surgery, so I consulted a few friends who had the procedure, and went in to find out what it was all about.

One of my complaints was that when I was knitting and/or reading while doing something else that require far vision (watching television or making sure my kids weren’t dying), I would have to lift up my glasses to see the up-close activity. Obviously with surgical correction, I would no longer be able to do this. But they gave me a trial of unequal contact lens to test. In this test, my right eye (which is my dominant eye), would be fully corrected for distance, and my left eye would be under-corrected for near vision.

I tried this out for a week, and it seemed successful, so I went through with the surgery, only a day after my birthday. The day of the surgery was rough. I am a little freaked out about anything having to do with my eye, which I then realized was probably why I put off the surgery for so long. And the place forgot to call my husband to pick me up after, so I sat around for two hours, completely blind and confused as to why he wasn’t there yet.

eye

Not my actual eye!

That night, I had to keep on these kind of awful plastic shields over my eyes that caused beads of condensation so dense that I could barely see a thing until the next morning. And then of course, there was the endless stream of drops, which will continue for about a month. But I can see! I keep waking up at night thinking I forgot to take out my contacts, but no, I won’t need them again! It’s only been a little while, but I have to say it was definitely worth it, and I probably should have just done it sooner!

So what’s with the title of this post, me calling this a minimalist adventure? Well, there aren’t many people who wouldn’t like to minimalize the amount of things they have to do to get ready in the morning, and I’ve found another way to cut down that list. Plus, I got to donate my glasses, and give away my contact lens solution!

My love of the library

Growing up in an urban area (Queens, NY), I was able to walk to many different stores that were within a few blocks of my house. There were no bookstores, but there was a library. Sadly, most of my family members were not very into reading, so I was not taken to the library until I noticed it one day on the way to the grocery store, and specifically requested of my grandmother that we go there.

I still remember the feeling of amazement when I realized I was able to not only read any book I wanted, but I could also borrow them and take them home. After that, I visited the library at least once a week. Today, I am fortunately enough to live within three blocks of my local library. Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, it’s not open on the weekends, but I do take my sons to visit whenever I’m home with them during the week.

Last week, we stopped in and my older son immediately picked out two books for me to read them. He’s only four, and thus has very limited reading ability as of yet. But I do love reading to them, and hope they grow up to love books at least in part due to my efforts. Anyway, we got through the first one okay, but then I realized the second one was quite long, and my ten-month-old had already fallen asleep in his stroller, and my older one’s lids were fluttering.
read
Of course, it’s also very important to read to your cats.

Suddenly, the idea came to me that we could borrow these books! I usually don’t borrow books because I’m afraid I’ll loose them and never return them, but due to my recent experiments into mimimalism, my house is (slightly) less cluttered, so I decided it was worth the risk. My son was so excited at getting to borrow a book, and it brought me back to my childhood library experience. I realize I’m very lucky to live where I do, and hopefully the library will be around for my sons to enjoy as they grow up.

The dark art of knitting and other yarns

Thinking back, I have always been somewhat of a crafty person. I was a very quiet child, and always preferred sitting quietly with my grandmothers to playing with other children. Mostly, I liked to sit and read, but one of my grandmothers was crafty, and instructed in the ways of these dark, yarn arts. She taught me everything from knitting, crochet, needlepoint, to rug hooking, although I never delved too deeply into any of them.

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I think I was five here, and making a Snoopy needlepoint!

As an adult, I realized that I could do only one crochet stitch, as long as someone started the chain for me. And knitting was lost entirely to the void that was my insane twenties. But around the time I was expecting my first child, I decided I wanted to try my hand at crafting again. I picked knitting as my medium of choice and a baby blanket as my first project. Unfortunately, I quickly figured out that I didn’t know how to knit as well as I thought I did. Fortunately, there was YouTube, and with it, a ton of instructional knitting videos.

After knitting a couple of practice squares and figuring out what pattern I wanted to use for the blanket, I was ready to begin! Sadly, that’s when my wrists decided to swell up and be extremely painful on bending (this is actually a fairly common horrible thing your body does to you when you’re pregnant). So I was only able to do one row a night until about five months after a had the baby, when my wrists went back down to normal. And just before the baby’s first birthday, I was finally able to finish the blanket!

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Here is the completed blanket in all it’s glory. And I still haven’t gotten over my fascination with multiple-color yarn.

Now it’s almost five years later, and I’m still knitting. Currently I’m making a blanket for a friend who is expecting her first baby, so I guess that’s why I’m feeling nostalgic. I also love the calming effect that knitting has on me. Is it the repeated, almost meditative motions? Is the the act of bringing order to chaos? Is it the creation of something beautiful? Whatever it may be, I’m glad that after all these years, I’ve finally found my crafty hobby of choice.