Tag Archives: Time

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.

How to Write

I have often wondered how to write. Ever since I was a little girl, ever since I knew how to read and could consume stories, I wanted to be a writer, an author. But how to do that? There were no instruction manuals, were there? No steps to follow like how to become a vet or an accountant or a gym teacher. Or was there? Authors knew how to write. Why not ask them? They’ve written books about how to write! So I’ve been reading them ever since.

I actually probably haven’t read that many, compared to some aspiring authors. Mostly, I read stories. I couldn’t stay away from stories. Adventuresome stories, funny stories, educational stories. I wanted to be taken to worlds away. I wanted to go there myself. I wanted to bring others with me.

Right now I’m reading Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury because it has found its way into my life from several different angles lately. I was so excited to be inspired by this thin little volume, for it to give me what I needed to be the writer I wanted to be.

So far, I’m disappointed. I haven’t finished it yet, but it is, so far, not what I expected. It seems to be more memoir than writing manual. But! Alas! Maybe that’s what writing IS! It isn’t a skill to be learned through the study of a manual, but a lifestyle to be discovered through living! Zen in the Art of Writing can be a bit repetitive, as it is a collection of essays from over decades, but something that Bradbury mentioned again and again is how he wrote 1,000 words every day.

Monday, he wrote. Tuesday, he wrote. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, he wrote. He mailed off his stories every Saturday to be published in magazines. Sunday he let all of the ideas bubble up and excite him before the next week of writing.

And look at me. Here I am, sitting at my computer (using a typewriter app because no distractions), writing. This is what I need to do. My stories will never be like his. My process won’t be the same as his, either. But the pure passion he writes with… That is inspiring. It doesn’t really matter what he’s saying, I guess, but just the fact that he is saying it with gusto.

My whole life I have wondered how to be a writer, but I’ve done it. I’ve been writing my whole life. Not perfectly consistently, not exactly what I wish I had been writing, but I’ve written. I have this hang-up that to be considered a writer, I have to publish something. Like, professionally, officially publish something. I’ve tried to convince myself that no, that is authorship, not being a writer, but really my head refuses to separate the two.

I am a writer because I write. Have I not “published” things on my own website? Have I not won prizes and recognition with my poetry and short stories? Have I not kept a diary or journal for over 18 years of my life? Have I not entertained and enthralled my mother, husband, and children with my stories? I write so I am a writer.

So, how to write, then? It is akin to asking one how to live. No one answer is the correct answer for everyone. Contrarily, no two answers will probably ever be the same for any two people. We must live each day to live our lives, even if we’re not sure what we are doing as we do it. The same with writing. Write every day. Share it if we want. (Do we find it beneficial to share our lives with friends and family, for example?) As we write, as we live, we discover, we experience, and we figure out how. A new adventure, every day.

Edited later to add:

“Self-consciousness is the enemy of all art, be it acting, writing, painting, or living itself, which is the greatest art of all.” – Ray Bradbury, 1965

9 Easy Ways to Watch Less TV

I don’t like everything about tv (as you can see here), but I think watching some is okay. In addition to making sure we watch “good” tv, we would probably benefit from watching a little less of it, too. So here are a few changes we can make to our lives or homes to make tv-watching a mindful event instead of a mindless habit.

  • No televisions in the bedrooms – here are 18 good reasons why.
  • No televisions in the kitchen – cooking shows are impossibly fast to follow along with IRL anyway. Plan the meal first, cook following written reminders if needed, and eat together if possible. Even if we need to eat alone, we can be more aware of tastes, flavors, and textures, thus enjoying the meal better than if we were distracted by a screen.
  • Better still, have only 1 television in the house – even if you have room for more televisions in your home, consider keeping only 1, and don’t make it the focal point of the room. Living rooms and family rooms are for living and family. Design a room around social interaction and it’s more likely that memorable social interaction will happen. And then, even when we’re watching tv, we will be doing it together, cooperating about what to watch, and sharing the experience.
  • Turn the television off when you’re done – just makes sense, doesn’t it?
  • No televisions in the car – long drives are great opportunities for conversations, listening to music, enjoying silence, or letting the mind (and imagination) wander. Traveling is an experience — enjoy the unique surroundings.
  • Go to restaurants that don’t have televisions hanging everywhere – I really don’t like televisions in restaurants. Nobody’s really watching them (there’s too much noise), but their flashiness can be huge distractions, even to someone who is trying to ignore them. Restaurants without televisions are getting harder and harder to find where I live (especially without paying $20+ per plate) and I think it’s a shame.
  • Don’t stream videos to distract children – children need to learn how to occupy themselves, be patient, be pleasant around others, and be present. The only way they will learn to do all that is by practicing. We need to let them have lots of opportunities to practice.
  • Limit the amount of time spent watching – the other options are more decide-and-be-done, whereas this one takes some self-discipline. If you have the willpower, create guidelines for yourself, such as: only 2 movies per week, only 2 hours tv per day, only 3 episodes per day, or whatever.
  • Cancel your cable or streaming subscription – You don’t have to cancel all of them of course, but if you have less to watch, you will watch less. Getting rid of cable also gets rid of commercials (win!). And having less subscriptions means you’ll save money.

Just imagine all of the other things we will be able to do now that we aren’t spending so much time watching tv.

Dealing With Overwhelm

I get overwhelmed sometimes and I must admit that I’m not always the greatest at dealing with it. But I’m working on it. I have identified where some of my weaknesses are, and I’m trying new things to better handle it.

Right now, when I get overwhelmed, I don’t know where to start and it practically paralyzes me. So when I start to feel overwhelmed and stressed, I immediately take a step back and decide to take some time to relax instead. Letting my body rest and relax is better than accumulating the negative affects of stress, right?

Except, relaxing in the face of overwhelm is just a form of avoidance and it makes the problem worse in the long run. I need to relax, of course, but I need to be mindful about it, too. I can’t just relax when things get too hectic because then I would just relax more and more while the chore pile grew and grew to ever more unmanageable heights. I need to take steps toward the top of my to-do mountain with realistic mental-health breaks along the way.

I’ve tried scheduling things out during the week to help spread the busyness. Budget balancing on Mondays, vacuuming on Tuesdays, appointments on Wednesday, laundry day, etc. But I had trouble sticking with it. In reality, the circumstances of my life right now are just too unpredictable to fit in daily boxes. So I created weekly task-lists instead.

I find using a Bullet Journal helps in determining what is really important. If it gets written down, it is priority. (I only allow 1 page for my weekly to-do list, with items written on every other line. That creates a max of 15 tasks per week, or an average of 3 per day.) This helps clear some of the mental clutter. If something doesn’t make the list, it’s easier for me to remember that I don’t have to give it any mental thought power — at least until a later date. This gives structure, but isn’t too rigid. A rigid structure is inherently fragile; When there is more room for improvisation, there is more room to succeed.

When things get to be just too too much, and I find my frazzled mind is affecting my mood, I find stream-of-consciousness journaling helps a lot, too. I’ll take some time — maybe 20 to 30 minutes — to just write about how I’m feeling. I’m not consciously trying to figure out why I’m feeling a certain way, but sometimes it emerges on its own. I mostly just complain. I write about how things are (not great) and how I want them to be instead (wonderful). Just getting those concerns (complaints) out somewhere helps me get past them and move on. I no longer feel bogged down by the weight of the suckiness and feel free enough to do something, anything, and that sets me on my way to a more productive day.

I must say, though, that I don’t only journal to complain. I probably complain for a few pages once every few months. But I compile a list of daily gratitude every night before I go to sleep. I think this is important to note as gratitude journaling is also beneficial. If complaints are the only thing we’re writing into our expressive universe, our energy is unbalanced. Daily thankfulness (or other affirmative expression) tips our expressive energy scale to the positive, making it more likely for the wonderful to come into our lives.

Learning how to successfully deal with overwhelm will be a lifelong feat. As we grow, we learn, we change. It is important to adapt as we realize certain practices are no longer serving us and continually explore ways to cultivate the best lives for ourselves.

I Joined A Gym

I didn’t want to join a gym.

I really believe that adding exercise into your daily activity is extremely possible. Taking stairs instead of elevators. Going for walks in spare moments, like your lunch hour or something. Lifting arm weights while watching television.

But the truth of my life right now is, I don’t have many spare moments. And when I do, I sit and relax. Maybe even read! Although raising a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old is a type of exercise all of its own, I wanted to focus more on myself for a few hours a weak. Really focus on keeping my own physicality fit.

I think I have a nice, simple “gym” set-up at home. I have an elliptical (found for free on the side of the road when people were moving!), a yoga mat with 3 yoga DVDs, and 2 sets of hand weights in different heaviness. The only thing that I don’t seem to have at home is enough time.

That’s why I joined a gym. They have a daycare. This makes the whole endeavor of working out as simple as simple could be for me. I drive to the gym, hand off my children, and then focus entirely on my physical self for an hour. Then I collect the kids and drive home.

One day, I will return to exercising exclusively at home or around town. When the children are old enough to be left alone for an hour — or to join me!

I didn’t want to spend the money on a gym membership. Being minimalist, I try to cut out all extraneous expenses to keep life simple and stress-free. But then I realized, a gym membership actually reduces stress for me right now. Thus, it’s worth the cost. (Even with the extra charge for daycare.)

It was quite the minimalist revelation: what worked for me before may not work now. And spending money might actually be the answer! And, perhaps the most counterintuitive of all, an extra thing might just contribute to simplicity.

Life Update and My Plans for November 2016

My life has been thrown a little out of whack recently due to a car crash. The whole family was involved, but Andrew is the only one to have a major injury — a fractured sternum, which is, thankfully, still pretty minor. However, it will take his body 6 to 8 weeks to fully heal. I’m happy to announce that he is healing quite well so far.

It was an odd experience being so thrown off of our schedule. I am so thankful that my parents and Andrew’s parents were around to help out with my children at the scene, the hospital, and the week right after when Andrew and I were in the most pain. I felt a bit lost and sad and worried there for a while, but after two weeks, we’re getting back to normal. Insurance paperwork is dealt with, hospital and doctor visits are over, Andrew and I are back to work, and I am able to take care of pretty much all of the day-to-day things again.

It’s not over yet, though. There is still more paperwork to sort, medical bills to pay, and the process of searching for, finding, and buying another car. Andrew is still on “light duty” when it comes to taking care of the children and the house so I need to handle the slack. This means that I am not participating in NaNoWriMo this November.

Writing a novel in a month takes a huge commitment and I usually depend on Andrew to take over some of my responsibilities around the house while I hide out and write write write in big chunks and spare moments during Novembers. Due to our circumstances this year, that obviously won’t be possible.

It’s only 3 days in and I already miss the community, excitement, and creative fervor that occurs ever November over at the NaNoWriMo community. But I am still happy with my decision to skip this year because I believe it is the best choice for my family and, ultimately, me.

Part of me wants to give it a crazy shot and try to write 50,000 words in one day or something (I saw on Twitter that someone already did that this year!), but another part keeps reminding myself of the 5 or so manuscripts I already have written that are still waiting to be edited. I have yet to even look at the novel I wrote last year since typing out the last word.

My plan, though, is to keep it simple. I will not attempt to write a novel this month. I will take care of my family by pulling some extra weight to make sure Andrew heals properly. I will take care of the loose ends of this car crash so we can put it behind us. And I will focus on writing every day [in a slightly less manic manner] this month. Maybe I’ll even get some editing done!

Ah yes, simple. That sounds pleasant. Much better than trying to do too much.

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.

 

9 Tips for a Simple Kitchen

I can’t say that the kitchen is the most used room in our house because we have a small house and, frankly, all of the living areas get used a lot everyday. The kitchen is, however, the hardest room to keep clean.

We are in other rooms a lot, but a lot happens in the kitchen. Our only table is in our kitchen, so in addition to cooking and eating there, we use that surface for playing and working, too. Things are always being used and moved and dirtied and cleaned. Here are some tips I use to keep this complex area just a little more simple.

  1. Get rid of appliances and specialized or redundant tools. You don’t really need a hand mixer, an ice cream maker, a quesadilla maker, or a toaster oven and a toaster. You can use a spoon (or a stand mixer), a blender, a pan, or just the toaster or an oven. Keep only multi-use tools or appliances completely necessary for your style of cooking. Remember: owning less things means less storing, finding, cleaning, and replacing.
  2. Stash appliances and tools in the cabinets, cupboard, or a closet. Even the toaster. You probably don’t use it as often as you think, therefore, you don’t need it within reach taking up counter space at all times.
  3. Make your tools versatile. I used storage bowls as mixing bowls and cutting boards as serving trays.
  4. Embrace your ugly or “outdated” kitchen. Reading this post made me completely release a pesky renovation list from my head. Replace “ugly” with “quirky”. Styles come and go, but that doesn’t mean your kitchen can’t still serve its purpose. Embrace your quirky kitchen. As long as it works, right?
  5. Pick a few colors or one theme. We used to have an assortment of hand-me-down and thrift-shop plates, cups, bowls, etc. There is nothing wrong with second-hand things in themselves, but having a cohesive set makes things simpler. Dishes stack better, fit next to each other better, and reduce visual clutter (ex: multiple dish patterns in multiple color schemes). I’m all for second-hand, but get a complete, matching set to simplify things.
  6. Use a small refrigerator. Food won’t get shoved to the back to spoil if there isn’t any room for you to add new food in front. Eat what you have and shop fresh. Meals are more flavorful that way. You will waste less, be more creative, and save space. And a smaller refrigerator uses less electricity — good for your finances and the environment.
  7. Get rid of your dishwasher. Read this post explaining 8 reasons why.
  8. Organize by use. When we first moved into our house, we didn’t have a plan on how to use our kitchen. My husband and I never had a kitchen of our own before and we were unfamiliar with this one in particular. 4 years of trial-and-error later we finally reorganized and I LOVE it. Tools, cans, grains, nuts, flatware, spices and flavorings, baking supplies, and storage pieces each have their own designated areas. This makes cooking A LOT easier.
  9. Organize by ease of cleaning. This is a tip from Marie Kondo. (She is the tidying boss.) Keep surfaces clear — utilize all of your drawers and cabinets. When everything is out of the way, cleaning counters, tabletops, and floors is much simpler.

Enjoy your kitchen and the delicious food you prepare!

Do you have any tips for a simpler kitchen to share? Post them in the comments below!

My Bucket List

I first read about making a bucket list in You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap) by Tammy Strobel and I knew I didn’t want to put any material objects on it, like ‘own a house’. I mean, the definition of a bucket list is “a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime“.

But I didn’t know what to put on it. When I read that book, I was about to give birth to my second child and was only really worried about surviving the delivery and first couple of crazy months with an infant. My scope of the future was short and incredibly honed in on caring for the new life in my world. I couldn’t think about any unrelated dreams even though I tried. It was kinda depressing, actually. Crazy hormones.

My son Wolfy is nearly 6 months old now and I’m in a much more stable place. So when I saw this post by Jessica, the Minimal Student, I was incredibly inspired. I was reminded of my previous adventures when I saw I had already achieved some of the things on her list. And I was reminded of a bunch of other things I still to accomplish, even while raising children.

Seeing her list unearthed a heap of possibilities for what I want to do with the rest of my life. I think it’s great that she’s shared her list with the world. It inspired and energized me. And right now, my own list’s format is pretty heavily influenced by Jessica’s list. I assure you, this imitation is a sincere form of flattery.

To continue spreading the joy of wonder, adventure, and achievement, I am going to share my bucket list, too — check it out here!

Enjoy!

A Simple Wedding

I started writing this post a few different ways already, but neither seemed right. So I tried to think about what I really wanted to say with this post and realized I mostly just want to remind anyone reading that they can do their wedding their way, instead of the way they think society and our culture wants them to.

In my first post attempt, I started talking about trends I noticed among my peers about weddings, but that scope was way too small to be anywhere near accurate. Then, in my second attempt, I tried narrowing it down to my personal experience and talking about the details of my own simple wedding, but that seemed too specific to be of general help. And neither of those approaches were very accurate in what I wanted to say.

I just want to remind readers that you have the permission to give yourself to do things your way. I planned my wedding without being familiar with minimalism or other conscious-living movements; It would have been nice to feel more supported about being different and doing things differently. That’s what I want this post to do: Support others in deviating from the status quo — bringing people back to appreciating the personal values of weddings, not the commercial-driven extravagance of grandeur and materialism.

Of course there are other factors besides your own whims to consider, such as money, family, and your partner. Ultimately, your wedding is a ceremonial celebration of your love, and it would be best to go into your wedding planning with an attitude to protect that pleasant and loving feeling no matter how things end up going.

As with a simpler life, a simpler wedding has the benefits of less cost, less worry and responsibility, less clean up, and less stress, while leaving room for more fun, more relaxation, more time, and more love.

If you are here looking for some inspiration, I’ll give you a little peek at some of the unorthodox ideas that my husband and I used in our wedding with which we were incredibly pleased:

  • Engagement Ring An untraditional and ornamental ring with a small stone. About $326
  • Engagement Party No registry.
  • Bridal Shower Didn’t have one.
  • Bachelor Party A weekend camping.
  • Bridal Party Only a Maid of Honor and Best Man. They both wore what they wanted.
  • Wedding Dress A short, beaded flapper dress that Andrew helped me pick out and I’ve worn again multiple times. $285
  • Invitations Designed and printed them ourselves.
  • Photography No video or professional photos. A friend volunteered to take photos all evening.
  • Music iPod playlist compiled of song requests from RSVPs played through borrowed DJ equipment. We used the microphone for announcements and speeches whenever we wanted.
  • Favors Tree saplings wrapped in tiny burlap bags.

Weddings are such a huge do now, that it feels inadequate to write such a short post about them. And yet, it feels appropriate because a wedding is just a party, after all. It’s just one day. It’s importance is in what it represents — the start of your married life together. Spend less time and energy planning the day of your wedding and more on the life of your marriage. I think you’ll find the results to be much more satisfying.

Enjoy!