Category Archives: Personal

Apartment Modifications Part 1

unnamedWith the move in progress, the kids and I visited Riley in Texas recently for a whole week.  He has been in corporate housing (housing provided by his work until he gets more established), and will be for a couple more weeks.

This housing arrangement, while temporary, was a bit of a shock for me because it is a two bedroom, two bathroom apartment.  There is no yard, there are people around us to be respectful of (tough to do with two little ones who enjoy running and hearing their voices at full volume), and not as much space.

While there can be benefits to apartment living (not having to worry when things break, for instance), our weeklong visit got me to thinking of ways in which my current simple living strategy would need to be modified for apartment dwellers, especially those with kids.  The rest of this list will come next week!

Playing outsideWe were lucky–the apartment we were at had both a balcony and a park within the complex.  That said, it was very warm, wet, and mosquito-y during our time there, so we did not spend as much time outside as we ordinarily do.  I can absolutely sympathize with those who cannot just open their back door and enjoy a backyard.  Modification:  We planned thirty minutes of outside time each day, and shared that expectation with the kids–a sort of accountability program.  And we packed the bug spray, so no excuses!

Keeping stuff in checkExtra stuff takes on a whole new meaning when you have a smaller space.  It enforces the “one in, one out” rule.  Modification:  There would be no room for error on this, if we were staying in an apartment for longer than a month:  we would have to pare our possessions down even further, and keep them pared down. Honestly, this is something that we would benefit from, regardless of where we were moving to.

GroceriesI had to haul four days worth of groceries up three flights of stairs, with both kids in tow.  That was enough of a feat in itself–I can’t imagine doing that with a couple of weeks worth of groceries.  Modification:  If I were staying in an apartment long-term, I would back off the “buy as much as you can to avoid shopping more often” rule, and would instead focus on saving money other ways, such as a store loyalty program or coupons.

Living in an apartment with kids for one week was a good lesson for me, and reminded me that everyone’s situation is different.  What works for one person, may not work at all for the next.  Stay tuned for Part 2 next week!

Time Out

I consider my children to be one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given (right up there with my husband).

With that in mind, you would think I would treat them as the treasures they are, without a second thought.  Unfortunately, I fall into the trap so many of us do:  I take them for granted far too much.

All the moving preparation (we accepted an offer on our house!) means a lot more work and emotional energy being expended.  Recently, I decided to drop what I was doing and go on a walk with the kids–one of our special activities–because Bean said, “Mama.  I want to spend time with you.  Can you stop working?”

Yes, sweet girl.  I absolutely can.

And I’m so glad I did.  I need to get this picture framed to remind me to stop more often and enjoy the amazing gifts I have been given.


Giving Yourself Grace

With the moving process well underway, I wanted to share some ways that my minimalist/stewardship practices have changed.

unnamed (3)1.  The kids spend quite a bit more time with screens.  I am not thrilled that we have already exceeded Bean’s two hour per week screen time limit for this week, but the need to clean the house before showings, and the fact that we are stuck in the air conditioned car during the showings (due to the two 90 pound dogs that have to get out of the house and the heat outside), means the kids get to indulge a bit in their screen time habits.  It isn’t perfect, but we try to compensate with outside time and reading time.

04f11a8c-94b6-4eec-b3ca-25ba4fca02632.  I spend less time on elaborate meals.  I love to bake and cook, but depending on the time a showing happens, I am not always able to prepare anything elaborate.  There have been times in the past three weeks (the time since the house first went on the market) where our suppers have been YOYO (You’re On Your Own) nights, and other nights when we have gone with something to-go.  The family gets fed though, albeit not with all organic/local/carefully crafted ingredients.

ad30d24f-c63b-466d-baca-b555b048b25b3.  We got a second car.  I wrote about this last week.  It’s still sort of a touchy subject with me, but we had to do what we had to do.  Hopefully it is temporary!

In a nutshell:  we are in survival mode.  My non-moving, minimalist self cringes each time I have to compromise a bit on my ideals (see:  cloth diapers and other things that are too green for me), but that’s where I am at right now.  And I have to remind myself almost hourly that this is temporary.

I want to continue to strive to be the best stewardess I can be. However, I am learning that one of the lessons of this move is the fact that we need to give ourselves grace, especially when it comes to working through major life changes.

A New Addition

I’d like to introduce you to our newest family member:


(Admittedly not the best picture, but you can see that our newest addition is a second car.)

I have been very proud of our family for being a one-car household for over four years, but with the big move to Texas fast approaching, and Riley getting there before the rest of us do, the time had come for a second car.

I am not at all thrilled by this change (however, change is never an easy thing for me!), although it feels as though everyone around me thinks I should be.  I am viewing this second car as a necessary–and hopefully temporary–evil. We were very content with just one car, and made it work for far longer than anyone said we could.  Were it not for this move, I am confident that we could have made a go of it indefinitely.

However, this move IS happening, and fast!  So, I am going to embrace the new car as much as I can.  For example, this morning the kids and I were able to sleep in a bit, because we did not have to take Riley to work.

I’d call that an unexpected bonus! Who knows–maybe more bonuses will make themselves known!

How it Works: Moving

Awhile back, Ronnica discussed how to move like a minimalist.

Originally, I intended this post to piggyback on that very topic, but as I prepared this, it occurred to me that moving a house–and a household–is a different animal than that which Ronnica discussed.  This particular move is also different in many other areas, including the ultimate destination and the reasons for the move.

To that end, here are a few tips and tricks that have proven useful to me during the past two weeks of moving preparation.  While I think many of us would like to stay where we are at, should you find yourself at the point of a major move, perhaps these tips and Ronnica’s will help you get started on your next chapter.

After a thorough purging, my tiny closet has a lot less that needs to be packed!
After a thorough purging, my tiny closet has a lot less that needs to be packed!

1.  Purge

This isn’t all that dissimilar to what Ronnica discussed in her minimalist moving post, and for good reason:  all moves have the added benefit of providing a chance at a clean, uncluttered slate.  When in doubt, throw it out (or donate it)!

2.  Consider your packing options.

For all the stress this move is causing me, I really have to say that Riley’s new employer is making things as easy on our family as one could possibly hope for.  I don’t even have to pack–in fact, it is discouraged.  How fortunate are we?!

This is obviously an anomaly in the moving world, so it is helpful to consider what moving options are available.  Are you going to pack up everything yourself, or will you have help? How will you transport your belongings?  The farther you can plan things out, the less stressful (and better budgeted) things will be.  Even if you have the benefit of packers AND movers at your disposal, it is helpful to be well-versed in the rules and protocol of how such an operation works.

3.  Prepare your current home for departure.

Although I have moved quite a bit before now, this is my first experience with selling a house.  It goes on the market today (need a house?), and is as ready as it can ever be.  It is important to take into account any extra expenses preparing a house for selling–in our case, a lot of paint and cleaning supplies were the primary expenses, but depending on your case, it may involve more or less preparation.

I would also encourage you to implement as many professionals as possible in the process, from realtors and stagers, to professional photographers and dog caretakers–all of which we have employed in this process.  The amount of home selling know-how I have can fit into a thimble, and I don’t think I’m alone in this.  Use the gifts and talents of others to give your home the best chance for quickly selling at a good price–something I hope happens in our case very soon!

4.  Prepare your new home for arrival.  

We are in the midst of this one, since 1) Riley has not yet arrived in Texas, and 2) we don’t yet know where exactly we are going to settle permanently.  That shouldn’t stop us (well, specifically me) from preparing my heart and mind for the new home.  In my case, I have been researching towns that fit all our criteria, looking at church and school options, browsing attractions, and even reading up on the history of Texas.  Knowledge is power!

What moving tips do you have?

My Spiritual Gift

04f11a8c-94b6-4eec-b3ca-25ba4fca0263Last night, we met with our realtor to get our house on the market and sold as fast as humanly possible.  (In case you missed it, we are moving!)

It went remarkably well. There’s just a couple of little hiccups (including our “sunny” kitchen, shown here), which she assured us are workable, provided that we stay flexible and proactive.

So of course, despite that advice in mind, I’m stewing.  Fixating on things that are pretty well out of my control is sort of a gift of mine.  I think Realtor is on the same wavelength, because she said, “I totally get it, Amanda.  Worrying is my spiritual gift too.”

I love that line.  Of course, nowhere in the Bible do I recall “worrying” being listed as a spiritual gift, but sometimes I feel like I am SO good at it, it really should be considered a gift I possess.  For as long as I can remember, I have been a worrier (much to the consternation of non-worrying family members and loved ones).

In many ways, I suppose being a worrywart has served me well.  I have never done anything illegal, for fear of being caught.  I fret over how people perceive me, so I very rarely get into confrontational situations.  I earned scholarships to college because I worried about my grades and extracurricular involvement.  I even worry about dental health, flossing and brushing twice daily and visiting the dentist twice a year…and because of that worry, I have never even had a cavity, and LOVE going to the dentist (seriously!).

But these are largely things that I have control over.  Once I have addressed the issues that I can control, it is as though I feel the only thing left to control is–you guessed it–anxiety over the situation.

That house electrical issue that I have addressed as much as I can, thus now largely out of my hands?  I still stew about it.

Fretting over how the stager will arrange the kids’ toys, despite getting rid of as much stuff as I can?  I still stew about it.

How will I get two kids and two gigantic dogs out of the house for two hours a showing?  Yep.  I stew about it.

Riley is quick to remind me that ruminating is not a good use of my time.  He is right.  Being a worrier and being a good steward of my time do not go hand-in-hand.  So I continue to try to reign in my “spiritual gift”, making to where it is a catalyst for good time management…not a thief.

As with so much in my life, that area is still a work in progress.  I have a feeling this move will be a good teacher though.

The Big Announcement

Time for me to take a page out of Ronnica's book!
Time for me to take a page out of Ronnica’s book!

Last week, I mentioned that I have a big announcement to share with you today.  So without further ado…

*Pauses for dramatic effect*

Ladies and gentlemen, we are moving.

Not just to a new house.  Not just a state away.  No–we are moving two states away, far from our cozy home in the Kansas City suburbs to the Dallas/Fort Worth area of TEXAS.

This was somewhat unexpected, but when a wonderful job opportunity came up for Riley, we knew it was in our family’s best interest to accept the job and all that entailed.  I never thought that 1) I’d ever leave Kansas, 2) I’d ever leave Kansas for Texas, and 3) that I’d be sort of excited at the prospect of leaving for someplace new.

Not surprisingly, I am also incredibly stressed by all that has to happen before we settle in to our new home (because moving with small children).  Having moved around quite a bit in my 31 years (eight times, if you count twice in college), this is not my first rodeo, but it is my children’s first time moving (and hopefully the last), and it is my first time moving with a family of my own.  There is a great deal to consider–looks like it may be time for me to dig through the archives to see what Ronnica did!

Expect moving updates in the weeks ahead.  Here we go!


10471393_10102174189199379_1160426533217566397_nI’m on vacation this week, in colorful Colorado!

This vacation has been a long time coming.  We have had a lot on our collective family plate over the past few weeks, so to be able to spend time together, unplugged (lucky for us, we are staying at one of the few places in the area that has no cell service, no TV, and only one phone!), in the fresh mountain air is incredibly restful and refreshing.

I have some exciting news to share when we get back.  Be sure to check back next Tuesday!


13442218_10103670593932299_3612704563831867025_nOne of the ways I waste time online is by reading articles on child-rearing and homemaking.  To be sure, in reasonable quantities, this can be helpful; in fact, I have learned a great deal in my “continuing education” endeavors. (It is only when one spends large quantities of time on this–like yours truly does–that it becomes an issue.)

In one such online session, I came across an interesting fact sheet regarding the value of time spent outdoors.  One fact that stood out is that the average American child spends 30 minutes or less outside.

I took this as a call to action.  I like to think we do a pretty job of getting the kids outside and off screens, but reading this really hit home how absolutely essential play–especially unstructured, outdoor play–is.

Not only can playing outside bestow all the benefits mentioned on that fact sheet, but as a mother, I also notice a huge difference in my kids when they spend time outside versus when they don’t.  For starters, I notice they sleep much better–Mother Nature is a great sleep aid!

Their behavior is also vastly improved when they spend a few hours outside, perhaps in part because of the amount of sensory input they receive while outdoors.  They are less likely to get into mischief when they have had a daily dose of the outdoors.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, their appreciation and concern for nature is unparalleled, and I believe this is as a result of the large amount of time they spend playing outside.  I see more environmental awareness come from two small children than from many adults I know–myself included!

Maybe one of the best stewardship practices out there is to take a page from children, and relish spending time outdoors!