Tag Archives: Contentment

What’s In My Hospital Bag for Baby #3

It’s nice to have some extra clothes and home comforts in the hospital with you when it’s time to deliver your baby. And of course there are the things you need, which is actually a lot less than you might think (especially for a baby born during warm weather).

I’m speaking from the vantage point of delivering a baby in a hospital as opposed to anywhere else because a hospital is where I birthed my previous two babies and plan to birth my third. I really have no idea what other situations might be like or the accessories they might entail. Judging from experience, I like how easy my hospital makes it for me.

First, a list of what is in my bag.

The Essentials

  • A postpartum outfit. For me, this summer, this means maternity waisted (as in not full-panel elastics) shorts and maternity waisted jeans (I highly doubt I’ll wear the jeans, but who knows, maybe there will be a cool night); a loose v-neck t-shirt; and one nursing bra. I will have the shoes I wear to the hospital – either sandals or flip-flops. A nice summer dress would also do nicely, but I’m wearing them constantly pre-delivery and I don’t want to take even one out of rotation to make sure it’s clean and packed and ready to go.
  • 2 outfits for the baby. Outfit 1: A Newborn Size short-sleeve onesie; tiny shorts; a thin cotton hat; and Outfit 2: a Size 0-3 Months short-sleeve shorts romper; with previously mentioned thin cotton hat.
  • Baby mittens. So the silly baby doesn’t scratch himself up with his newly exposed fingernails.
  • 2 thin baby blankets. Many people take the blanket from the hospital, but they really don’t want you to. I use hospital blankets whenever possible, however, so if they get messy they will be laundered right away. I wrap my newborn in one blanket for a while and then send it home with visiting family so they can introduce the scent of the new family member to our cats. The other thin baby blanket should be more than enough to keep the baby warm if his outfits aren’t enough.
  • Extra contact case and solution. I am in the habit of removing and cleaning my contacts every night and I suspect my eyes would hate it if I kept them in for 2-3 days straight in the hospital. I just don’t like sleeping with contacts in either. I want to be able to put them back in during the day, though, because my glasses aren’t comfortable enough to wear all day.
  • Eyeglasses and case. Okay, these aren’t technically in my bag yet because I still wear them every night. But I have a Post-it Note next to my bag reminding me to grab them out of my nightstand before leaving for the hospital. As it gets closer to my due date, I will just store them in my hospital bag, taking them out for whenever I need to use them at night.
  • My purse. This includes my wallet with all necessary ID, insurance cards, and money, and my cell phone.

The Comforts

  • Nursing pads. At home I use washable organic cotton nursing pads. A cousin had given me a box of disposable ones that I kept forgetting to use at home when Pigpen was nursing. I’m packing them mostly so they’ll get used, and somewhat because I think they might be convenient to have.
  • Cell phone charger.
  • Camera and charger.

Now a list of things I am not bringing.

  • Diapers/feminine pads/disposable underwear. The hospital provides all we need and more to take home with us.
  • Toiletries. The hospital provides it all. And I’ve actually never showered in the 2 days spent at the hospital after giving birth. I’m too busy sleeping, nursing, interacting with doctors and nurses, and generally recovering. I’ve already established that I don’t need to shower very often to feel good. You may want to shower, but the hospital should provide all you need to do so.
  • Slippers or socks. My hospital provides comfy, fuzzy, grip-y socks with my gown as soon as I get a room.
  • Baby socks. Summer here is quite warm and, again, the baby blanket can pick up any slack.
  • Book or magazine and journal. I’ve brought these before and never used them. During the day, I’m busy. At night, I try to sleep. For entertainment, I talk with my husband or we watch the luxury of cable tv, which we don’t have at home.
  • Snacks. The hospital provides me with all the food I need. Andrew isn’t included in the meal plan, but that’s up to him. I’ve got enough to worry about. If I get hungry, I send Andrew out to bring me extra food.
  • iPod.

All that I am bringing fits in a medium-sized backpack with room to spare. I am a minimalist so I am not bringing much. But I will definitely have everything I need. I’ve learned I don’t need other “comforting” items, because as long as my husband is there and my baby is healthy, I’m good.

2-3 days is not a long time and there is actually a lot to do. Mind you, I believe that rest is a very important thing to do in the hospital. (Especially before we bring our tiny new infant home to two toddlers.) I don’t need my hospital room to emulate a luxurious hotel room or spa experience to accomplish the simple act of resting. We are there to get our baby safely from my belly into the world and to ensure he’s healthy enough to go home. Then we get comfortable, in our family home, together.

The Fear of Downsizing… My Computer

What if it’s not enough? What if I can’t do what I need to do? What if I can’t do what I want to do? Is it even worth the investment? Should I wait for something bigger or better to present itself? What if it’s not what I expect? What if it’s not enough?

I am in need of a new computer and I have made the choice to downsize. And I’m a little scared.

I have owned 2 personal computers in my life. My first experience with a computer was a Gateway desktop, with dial-up internet. Man, I loved playing in that cow-colored box. Next, when I was in high school, my parents bought me my own black Dell desktop that I kept in my room. We got better internet in that era and it was awesome. And finally in January 2006, after a semester of excellent attendance and grades in college, my parents bought me a sleek white MacBook.

I love this MacBook. It has served me very well in the past 11 years and 5 months. And it’s still going! I debate getting rid of it at all, but, truth be told, it’s just getting too outdated. Can I use it for what I need to do? Yes, most of the time.

Here’s the deal.

  • I don’t have much storage space. I store all of my music on an external hard drive because there is no room on my actual computer. Same for photos. So then I just started storing all documents on the external hard drive, too. All of the storage space on this computer is basically used in a way so the computer itself will function — it’s not storing any of my personal files anymore.
  • The battery is pretty much dead. I need to keep this computer plugged in all the time when I am using it. It will stay on for a few minutes between outlets if I need to move it, but that’s it. This has essentially made my laptop into a desktop for the last 5 years. I just never got around to replacing the battery and now it seems too late.
  • I always need to keep this laptop open. I mean, physically keep the screen up. There is some sort of loose wire in the hinge and whenever I close the laptop, it is very, very, difficult to open it again and still see the screen. I can see an extremely faint outline of items on the screen, but it is essentially black. It can take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes to finagle the screen back up with a back-lit picture showing. So I just leave it open all the time to avoid that hassle. But that creates other hassles, like dust collecting in the keyboard and cats stepping on it and opening unexpected windows and menus.
  • It just can’t handle another update. I needed to update my operating system about 2 years ago to be able to connect to our wireless printer. This took up even more storage space and was not compatible with a lot of my software, such as Microsoft Office. I’ve been able to get along just fine without the software, thanks to things like Google Docs and online photo editors. But even though I just updated the operating system, this system is not supported for many other updates, including, most importantly for me, Google Chrome. Sadly, the hardware of this system just can’t support another operating system update and it doesn’t seem worth the money to essentially rebuild it with components that will.

I would love to replace this MacBook with the current equivalent, but now that the money is coming out of my pocket, I think, that starting at around $1,200, it’s too expensive. We have student loan debt and a mortgage and home repair debt. We could take some of our income and put it towards a new MacBook, but it just doesn’t make sense to me if it’s going to slow down our debt repayments. Even if we had no debt… well, maybe I would buy a MacBook then… but really I would want to do even more home improvements — like finish our attic and basement to better utilize the space we already have.

So I decided not to buy another MacBook. Thus began my quest to find a suitable replacement. One that didn’t run Windows (I really dislike the Windows operating system). Eventually, for $214, I decided on getting a Chromebook… And that’s where the major downsizing came in.

I am losing some functionality, but I think I can make it work. (I hope it works!) It satisfies 3 out of the 4 problems listed above with my current MacBook — it’ll have a new battery with a long life, it will be mobile, and it will technologically up-to-date. The thing is, it still doesn’t have much storage space.

Chromebooks are designed to have most, if not all, digital matter stored in the Cloud. I’m a little weary of storing everything on the internet, but I do still have my external hard drive to store back-ups and super personal files. My husband has a Toshiba laptop running Windows to which I will transfer my iTunes account, since one cannot run iTunes on an Chromebook at all. I fear that not having my very own iTunes will be the thing I miss the most — after all, I’ve already been dealing with no storage space and loss of software for a few years now — but it will definitely be manageable.

There’s probably a lot more that even my current obsolete MacBook can do that a Chromebook cannot, but when I really thought about it, I decided I didn’t really need it. I asked myself “What do I use my computer for on a day-today basis?” and “What do I want to use it for in the future?”

Right now, I basically use my computer for the internet — things like online banking, email, domestic shopping, connecting to the library, searching for information, reading blogs, etc. — and a Chromebook should be ace at allowing me to do all that.

In the future, I want to do more writing. It certainly does not take a powerful computer to do word processing, so a Chromebook should manage fine. I will have to give up Scrivener, but as much as I like Scrivener, I am looking forward to the simplicity of writing without all the bells and whistles. Like, a typewriter has been seeming very appealing to me lately — no distractions. A Chromebook will be full of internet distractions, but I can also just physically disconnect from that for a while.

There are lots of other things that I’ve used a computer for in the past, like editing videos and photos, but I’ve grown away from them and have no desire to go back to it. I have a family now and want to spend more time with them and less time in front of a screen. And since I’ll be sharing iTunes with my husband, maybe that’ll bring us closer, too, ha. I’m diving in — the Chromebook should arrive in the mail sometime next week — and I’ll just see how it goes.

Hopefully it’s enough.

Making Religious Holidays My Own

Over the holiday weekend, my family and I went camping. Being Easter, it was a holiday for only some. I grew up celebrating Easter. Andrew grew up celebrating Easter. But neither of us would call ourselves religious now and don’t believe in Jesus as the one and only messiah. So why continue to celebrate it? Partly because our families still do, but we’ve come to see it a little differently.

For Easter, Andrew and I have decided to celebrate the arrival of spring, specifically with the first camping trip of the year. We share meals and traditional foods (pufek [spelling??? which is a German bread], liverwurst, and strammer max for me) with family. We don’t dress up or go to church. We spend time together outside, enjoying the freshness of spring, and send the children out on a little egg hunt just because it’s a fun game to play outside. And of course we eat chocolate. Easter, for us, is not about Jesus, but about family and nature and getting out to enjoy the warmer weather.

It’s similar with Christmas. I don’t celebrate the coming of our lord and savior or whatever. But I do like a lot about the holiday, such as the sharing, coziness, warmth, and love. So when I celebrate Christmas, I celebrate the coming of cuddly winter with the closeness and coziness of my family and friends. Since it’s also so close to the end of the year, I reflect back on that year and celebrate it for what it was. Then I celebrate the coming of the New Year with new beginnings.

It didn’t take a lot to get here — just a little shift in thinking. It helps that Andrew and I are on the same page with these religious holidays, too. Celebrating in this way, I am able to comfortably share traditions with my family and friends without feeling like I’m sacrificing my own beliefs or pretending to follow others. I’ve come to enjoy these times again instead of constantly questioning the history and purpose, as I did a few years ago. I am now at a good place with them and feel content.

Perhaps a shift in thinking is all it would take for you to have a more enjoyable holiday?

Some Thoughts on Minimal Privilege

About a year ago, I wrote about increasing satisfaction through deprivation. I tried my best to turn a difficult situation into something from which to learn and grow. I wanted to feel good about a state of lack and so I decided to be appreciative.

Last night, the blower on our furnace broke down. We had no heat, save for a small space heater we borrowed to keep the children’s bedroom warm (Andrew and I piled on blankets to stay warm while we slept), while a snow storm blew outside.
During the day, with the snow falling harder, the space heater actually did a pretty good job of keeping the house warm while we waited for an available HVAC technician to come take a look at our furnace. The temperature in the house never even dipped below 60°F.
As we endured this slight inconvenience, I kept thinking about what I wrote about in my Increasing Satisfaction Through Deprivation post and I didn’t feel as comfortable with it. I mean, I think it still has its merits, but since I read a guest post on Becoming Minimalist about Minimal Privilege, I just haven’t been able to think about it in the same way.
All of us are permitted to have our own feelings and experiences. My experiences are not less valid because someone else experiences something harder. But being aware of what others may be going through is a powerful concept. I feel less flippant about using deprivation as a tool — using my privilege to choose how and when to deprive myself — when it is a real life struggle for some people.
I sometimes feel bogged down by our debt, but I don’t really have to worry about having enough food for my family or having the electric cut off or being able to keep the family warm enough. We are quite fortunate and it will serve me well to remember that.
It’s also good for me to remember that others may not be as fortunate as myself so I can do what I can to help, whether that be by donating to charities, helping a friend, or by being more mindful during conversations.

Simple Makeup

I don’t use makeup to alter my appearance — covering something up or creating something that isn’t there. I use makeup to enhance my appearance. And in the 15 years or so since I started experimenting with makeup, I think I’ve finally found something that works for me.

The key to the eventual success of my experimentation was to stop comparing myself to others. Stop trying to make what worked for others work for me. Stop trying to use makeup how other people were and figure out how I wanted to use it.

Despite what the cosmetics industry would like us to believe, we are all very unique and there is no one product or set of products that work for everyone. There is no wonder product for all — stop believing them when they tell you that it is! There is no makeup “essential” for everyone.

The truth is, just by sheer statistical probability, most products either won’t work for you, shouldn’t be used by you, or you just won’t like them (application, color, etc.). Finding your own “essentials” list might be an ever-changing life-long process. But coming from the viewpoint where you have complete control and final say, I think you will enjoy the process much more than if you are constantly chasing what other people say or do.

I feel so confident and comfortable in where I’ve come with my makeup. It makes me feel good, beautiful, and relaxed — and that feeling can do more good for my appearance than a product ever could.

My makeup:

  • mascara – I have quite light eyelashes so I like to emphasize what I’ve got by making them a bit darker. I use a brown color so it isn’t so bold and thus looks a bit more natural next to my skin tone.
  • eyebrow filler – I also have quite light eyebrows so I like to emphasize what I’ve got by making them a bit darker. To look as natural as possible, I use a light brown powder gel to fill in and accent. (I do not change their shape at all.)
  • lipstick – I like to only have 2 or 3 colors per season to keep decision-fatigue low. I like a subtle color and a slightly more bold or bright color for when I’m feeling flashy. I’ll usually have some sort of lip gloss available, too, just because I seem to receive them as gifts.

And that’s it. No eyeliner — because it looks terrible on me, no foundation — because I don’t like the feeling, no blush — because I could never really figure it out, no lots of products — because I don’t need them or want them. Simple — for me.

The Urge to Purge

Lately, when I’m feeling overwhelmed or discontent, I want to get rid of stuff. I have the urge to purge. And although it sounds like it almost makes sense within the parameters of minimalism, I don’t actually think it’s the right response.

Minimalism claims that more stuff does not equal more happiness, contentment, status, fulfillment, fill-in-the-blank-goodness. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the opposite — that less stuff equals more happiness, contentment, etc — is quite true.

Stuff is just stuff. Finding the separation between and happy balance with stuff and contentment is the holy grail. And when I’m feeling dissatisfied or stressed, it is easy to think that jettisoning some stuff will automatically make me more at ease. And it might… for the moment.

Minimalism promotes less stuff because it helps clear the space and your mind to find what really matters — to find the things and ways that bring contentedness to you individually. The landscape becomes more clear when the cluttery fog is lifted. But it is still not a sure thing. Even though you can see the landscape better, you still need to survey the paths and decide the route that’s best for you. Definitely easier without a cover of fog, but still no small feat.

It’s been 3 years since I first discovered minimalism. I can’t believe it’s been that long — it still seems so new to me. (I suppose 3 years versus 26 years is still a pretty big ratio spread.) And although I’ve cleared a lot of clutter, I still have a ways to go. I haven’t gotten to that “after decluttering” part yet.

So maybe the urge to purge, as it is, will still benefit me in some way. As long as I can recognize when I’ve purged enough and kept enough (I doubt I’ll not keep enough). The trick will be how to recognize that, eh? I’ll let you know what I find out about that when I get there.

The Art of Contentment

I’m writing yet another post inspired by Joshua Becker, but what can I say? The guy’s kind of a genius when it comes to minimalism and, in this case, contentment. He actually writes about completion and the satisfaction it brings.

When confronting the desire to buy yet another thing, he uses this as an example:

The next time you have a desire to buy something you don’t need, say to yourself, “Nope. I’m done buying clothes. I already have enough. I have met this desire and I am moving on to something else.”

Such a simple thing! Just decide to be done buying clothes. I had honestly never thought of that before, even with the pursuit of a capsule wardrobe. I always thought that it would be growing and changing with me — that I would have to constantly think about and curate it. But, no! I can just stop and be content.

Maybe contentedness doesn’t last forever, as life is fluid and change is constant, but it does exist. And it can exist for a time. Decide to be content and it will be until you decide something needs to change again. Being in control sounds much better than constantly chasing dreams advertisers are constantly presenting.

But maybe it isn’t marketers fueling your discontent. Maybe it is brought on by yourself as you consider all of your life’s what-ifs.

I’ve lived in my hometown my entire life. I’ve done a fair bit of traveling, but have never lived outside of New Jersey. When my husband’s company recently offered him a job in Indianapolis, I began to imagine how my life could be better and happier in another place. I weighed the pros and cons of Indiana vs. New Jersey, a city vs. a small town, the country vs. the coast, anywhere else vs. here. And in doing so, none of the places seemed good enough… Until I went full circle, remembered what I love about where I live, and decided that right here is good enough.

I will be more mindful of how I spend my time. Is it pursuing something that doesn’t really need more attention? Like filling a closet that is already full? I will be content in matters where I already have enough and instead focus on matters where I really can improve myself. Or, as Joshua Becker highlights, on matters that will never be completed, such as being a calm and patient mother, a loving and fun wife, and a considerate and contributing member of society.

The Art of Contentment: A change in thinking can create a change in being.