Category Archives: Simplicity

Simplicity: Becoming a One-Car Family

When I first felt God speaking to me about this journey of simplicity, I felt that he was posing one clear challenge. It was probably the one thing that made me the most nervous about going down this road. It was something that would make this choice of simplicity quite noticeable on a daily basis. The challenge was this: to become a one-car family.

I was afraid to even think of what this would mean for our the four of us. More honestly, I was afraid of what it would mean for me. We had just one car for the first two years after we moved back up to Duluth. Ella was a year old and I wasn’t doing a whole lot outside the house. If Pete was working and I needed the car, I would plop Ella in her car seat and drive Pete the five whole minutes to his hospital. But life doesn’t look like that anymore. Ella has school every day, Sam has appointments, Pete works 30 minutes from home, and I sometimes need to get out just to have a break from being home. I was concerned that this change would leave me feeling trapped and alone. I tried to figure out how I could get around this part of the simplicity plan.

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rock crawling in Gilbert

I really did try, but every time I prayed about it, I felt God was clearly leading us to just one vehicle. That meant we would need to sell Pete’s Jeep, affectionately known in our family as Charlie. For a few days, I thought maybe we could lend her to a friend for these six months or just park her in the garage. That way, we’d be able to use her again as soon as the six months passed, or if we really, really needed her, she’d be available. But again, that was not what God was leading us to. He made it clear through strong feelings in both my heart and Pete’s, that we were supposed to actually sell Pete’s Jeep. This was mid-December, the week after God woke me in the night and put this plan of simplicity in front of me. Though we had decided to sell her, I found relief in knowing we would still have a month before beginning our six-months of simplicity. That would give me time to mentally prepare for one vehicle. Except that’s not the way it happened.

It didn’t take long at all for us to know who we would ask first about purchasing Pete’s Jeep. We had originally spoken to him about using the Jeep while we’re in Kenya, so Pete called to ask if he’d think and pray about buying it for a good price. Pete worked out the details with him and just a couple days later, he came by for Charlie. So much for the time I thought I had to mentally prepare! Suddenly, we were down to one vehicle. Looking back, I think this was best for me. God knew I would try to have complete control over the situation and plan out every detail before selling her if we had her any longer. This way, I needed to trust in His timing and control rather than my own.

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ready for the Daddy/Daughter Ball

Two months after saying goodbye to Charlie, I can tell you that it has not been the struggle I thought it would be. Not at all. We’ve been able to manage getting to appointments and meetings and play dates without much trouble. A few times, we’ve taken Pete to work so I could have the car during his shift. That’s an hour drive, round trip, but we’ve discovered it’s really great family time. Ella thinks it’s exciting to take Daddy to the hospital. It has also given me the opportunity to listen to a couple audio books while the kids watch a quiet video in the back. I’ve gotten better at scheduling play dates at our house or having phone meetings instead of driving to a coffee shop or the church to meet face-to-face with someone. Living in town, public transportation is a bit of an option. We live walking distance from the bus line on a warm day. This morning I took a cab. I needed to get to a meeting downtown at the same time that Pete was taking the kids up to the med school for a lunch talk on international medicine. Once it warms up, I’ll be able to walk to the bus stop with the kids or bike more often, but today the windchill is -25, so a cab was the best option. When I went out of town with the kids at Christmas but Pete still needed to get to work, he rented a small car. These options do cost money, but they all equal far less than insurance and the cost of gas for a Jeep Wrangler.

These two months have certainly taught us to plan ahead. I can’t usually just run to the grocery store at a moment’s notice and we need to plan for days when Pete and I both need to be places. That takes a bit of communication. Ella knows she can’t dawdle in the morning and miss the bus or she won’t get to go to school if we don’t have the car. We’ve all had to learn to be flexible. Two months in. So far, so good.


THE STORY OF CHARLIE

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Pete – with a handlebar mustache!

Charlie came into our family the week after Sammy was born. We had been planning on going from one car to two, and Pete had spent a lot of time searching online and calling dealers all over the country before his arrival. After we met our Samuel, Pete and I both needed to adjust to his unexpected diagnosis. I’ve written before that this time of adjustment is incredibly important and shouldn’t be glossed over or ignored. Fortunately, this was something we both recognized early on. We knew that Sam would be in the NICU for a while and Pete had found a Jeep he liked at a dealership in North Carolina. I knew the time away would be healthy for him, so we agreed that a quick flight out and the drive back would be good for him. He arranged the trip with a buddy and the two went to get Charlie.

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date night

Pete spent lots of time adventuring with that Jeep – rock crawling up on the Iron Range, rescuing cars from the depths of snow-filled ditches, trekking through the flood waters of 2012 to close the clinic (just weeks after Charlie arrived in Duluth). We took the doors and top off for summer date nights and, when Sam was big enough, the four of us went on family rides together. We had a fantastic two-and-a-half years with Charlie!

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Sammy & Daddy

 

To read other posts about our journey of simplicity, click here.

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Simplicity: Day 28

Four weeks on our simplicity journey. Four weeks, and I haven’t been to Target once. Can I get a high five for that?! That’s a pretty big change from my once-a-week trek up the hill for groceries and anything else that happened to fall into my cart. Honestly, I haven’t really missed it. I’ve chosen not to do my regular Target grocery run in order to avoid all the other isles of loveliness the store holds. Instead, I’ve made two trips to a grocery store much closer to us. I think I can say it’s actually been a fun change. Sam and I swing in just for groceries. It reminds me of when I was little and loved going to the grocery store with my mom, making our way up and down every isle, getting only what was on her list. We’ve been doing the same.

I think I mentioned earlier that we’ve continued our date nights. That time is vital to our relationship and to the overall health of our family. It gives us an opportunity to simply be a couple, not parents with busy kids. We both look forward to our date night with great anticipation. We know that even if the week is incredibly full and our paths aren’t crossing as often as we would like, we still get our few hours together one night a week. We kept the line in our budget for paying our weekly babysitter, though we did cut out any money to do things during our dates. We thought we’d challenge ourselves to get creative and come up with no-cost date options. I’ll tell you, though, it’s just not as easy to find cheap options up here in the winter. Our favorite and most utilized option is Barnes & Noble. Cozy chairs and mountains of books to skim. Aside from “the library store,” as Ella calls it, we’ve also been using gift cards during our dates. I was actually quite surprised at the number of cards we had when I gathered them all in one place. We’re gift card hoarders, apparently.

On our date two weeks ago, we chose to use a card to Red Lobster, which is probably Pete’s favorite chain restaurant. When we arrived at our table, I set the gift card next to my glass so we wouldn’t forget to use it. But guess what we forgot? We’re so used to pulling out our card to pay after a meal that we did it again! We didn’t realize it until we were about to leave the restaurant and it was too late. Put that down for our first mistake of the 6 months of no extra spending. We felt bad, but the up side is that we still have that card for Red Lobster! Last week, though, we went to Blackwoods, a local restaurant with most entrees between 14 and 20 dollars. We had just one gift card for $20, but we managed to finish our meal with a final total of $20.90. We didn’t even share our plates. That was from two separate orders! The host was sweet enough to cover the last 90 cents (no, we didn’t ask her to do it) and we left a tip with a little cash I had in my purse. Success! We left that night feeling pretty happy about our choices. And for remembering to use the gift card.

We really haven’t had anything outside our budget yet. After four weeks, though, we’re starting to run out of a few things. This is a part of this journey that I’ve sort of been looking forward to reaching, mostly because it’s a new mindset for us. For example, yesterday we used the last of our dishwasher detergent. Since we’re trying to use what we have in the house before buying anything more, I did a search on Pinterest for a simple, homemade concoction. I did manage to find a very basic recipe using ingredients I had in my laundry room! Borax and washing soda were the two main ingredients. The third was sugar-free lemonade for the scent. I had to pick that up with the groceries, but it’s something that will definitely be used. Tonight I’ll be using the mix for the first time. I really hope it works! The blog I found it on was pretty hopeful, so we’ll see how it goes.

There has been one other big change in our budget since starting this journey, but it deserves its very own post. Can you guess what it might be? I’ll leave you hanging on that thought for a couple days, but be sure to swing by Tuesday because we’re going to be doing a fun giveaway in light of Valentine’s Day next weekend! You won’t wan to miss it!

 

 This post has been linked on A Little R&R


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Slowing & Sitting

Oh, my dear friends, I am so happy to finally be sitting at home, with a cup of coffee next to the computer, and not seeing any trips on my calendar in the coming two months. I need a little down time! We all know December tends to get a bit wild, but then it didn’t slow down for us until this past Sunday. We had an absolutely lovely trip to Florida over the new year, and last week we were in Indiana for our first training session as we prepare for Kenya. At last, I can slow down and let it all soak in. Taking the time to just think on busyness after it passes is one of my favorite things. It helps me appreciate all that has happened while also appreciating the quiet. So now we enter the quiet.

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Two and a half weeks into our six months of simplifying and things are going very well. I continue to feel freedom in this time. Instead of thoughts of ‘buying another something for the mantel would look so nice’ or ‘I should find a few new shirts for the kids’ that so often bog me down, I’m feeling the opening of time. Time to hang pictures that have been waiting in the corner of my bedroom or to finally find a real home for the stack of books and papers on the end of the dining room table. I am clearing things away and truly enjoying the spaces of our home.

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// tune my heart print found here //

Now that we’re home, I am continuing the process of simplifying. Yesterday I went through the kids’ clothes, pulling out outfits that are too small, and finding a place for them in the donation bin. Today I spread out all of their toys and separated those that are currently being loved on from those that haven’t been touched in a few months. Tomorrow I plan to finish their room altogether. I’ve had many questions about the process of going through toys and clothes, a pretty challenging thing when kids are involved. I’m putting together a list that might be helpful for some of you and will be happy to share that very soon. This has been quite a learning process through the last year, and I certainly don’t want to keep everything I’ve learned to myself.

So here’s a question: If you could go through and completely organize one area of your home, what would it be? I’d love to hear your thoughts! My answer will be in the comment section.


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Simplicity: Day 1

Today we began our six-month journey of simplicity. I wouldn’t say it was hard, but there were a few times I caught myself beginning to make a mental Amazon list before realizing my purchases would have to wait till summer. Just little things. For example, we noticed that a few pears had quickly gone bad in the produce drawer in the fridge. Pete reminded me that we used to have these little plastic things that seemed to do a decent job of keeping the fruit good a bit longer. I nearly said, “I’ll order a few right now.” Instead, we’ll be sure to buy less fruit more often. Pretty simple.

A slightly bigger issue arose when Ella pulled out her school shoes this afternoon and said her teacher told her she should bring a new pair. Upon examining the pink, sparkly Stride Rites (not cheap but purchased for a good price before the school year on Zulily), I discovered that the sole of one shoe has definitely seen better days. Any other day, I would have glued the sole, told her to wear them for play shoes, and purchased a cute new school pair at Target. Instead, I’m fixing the sole and sending them back with her tomorrow. The situation did bring up a good opportunity to talk with Ella again about this experiment. She complained for a moment about the shoes being too worn out, but I gently reminded her that we’re not buying new things at the store for a while and pointed out the good qualities of her shoes. It didn’t take much convincing that they are still pretty fantastic since they are nearly entirely covered in sequins. Tonight I’ll glue those soles back in place and hope they last a few more months.

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Ella’s sweet sparkly shoes

Over the weekend, I observed something in myself that I hadn’t necessary expected. I started to feel slightly anxious about having a limited amount of time to make purchases. I suddenly wanted to decorate our guest bathroom. And then I remembered a few developmental toys I had meant to buy for Sam. And my mind kept going over all these things that I might want in the next six months. I looked at my Etsy wish list about a hundred times but managed to only make one purchase. I did buy the items for Sam but I held off on the rest. All day yesterday, I wanted to shop! Apparently, my desire to purchase and the financial freedom I currently have to buy these things has gone to a place I wasn’t even aware. Feelings of anxiety like that make me realize I need to take a deeper look at the hold my material stuff has on me. I wonder if that is one reason God wants me to experience this break from purchasing before going to Africa. It’s one thing to stop purchasing because it’s no longer an option, but it’s entirely different to still be surrounded by the things I want and choose not to purchase them. Definitely something I need to dig into a bit further.

That’s where I am at the end of day one. So much to come in the next six months. I have a feeling it’s going to be tough but also really, really good.

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Some of you know that we just returned from an amazing week in Florida. Warmth! Sunshine! It was wonderful! If you’re waiting for photos, they will be coming soon. I again fell behind on backing up my iPhoto library and no longer have any space for more pictures, including those taken on the beach. I’ll get them up soon. These two kiddos make perfect little beach models! Here’s a little sneak peek…

Sam beach

 

 This post has been linked on A Little R&R


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