Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My "Desert Island" Shelf

Sorry for the lack of blogging. My birthday was last week and I've been busy giving away more STUFF. It's such a wonderful feeling! I have a trash bag full of toddler toys/accessories, about 25 books, and 8 bowls. I can't believe I had 8 bowls I never used!

I've spent the last couple of days working on this and folks, it is HARD!
I own a lot of reference books and those probably take up more room than anything else. So they got their own shelf. Okay, so they've spilled over to others as well. There's too many and I read them all; don't judge me! Baby steps, right?

We still have lots of other shelves with plenty of books: photo's, reference, religious, library, music, & Dickens (yes, an entire shelf devoted to collectors edition Dickens!) that may or may not get whittled down. But here's my shelf:
(I left room to grow after my Tolkien books on purpose.)
The Complete Tightwad Gazzette (reference, I know, oh well.)
(not shown because I'm reading it) Uncle Shelby's ABZ's

I asked myself the questions: have I read this in the last 2 years? Do I remember the story? Did someone give it to me & there's a emotional connection? For the last question, I kept those on another shelf as I try to make that decision.

So, what have I learned from this? That in all reality there are a handful of books I can't live without and none of them are pictured here because they're on our religious shelf. That made it much easier to whittle away at the rest of them. And from what's left - the books I read over and over - that I ultimately enjoy fun books more than others.

Many of our books are headed to the public library. A lot of them we bought because the library didn't carry them and we may read them once or twice more. Not enough to justify holding on to them anymore.

So what would you have on your shelf? Are you storing books you can live without?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Things I Need to Toss but Haven't

If you haven't seen or heard of the book Material World by Peter Menzel you should. It takes a look at the things people own in different parts of the world. Here's another link to whet your appetite. It's humbling and thought provoking to see how little those in second & third world countries live with. I don't aspire to live like that; it's just comforting to see how little we actually need. I do want to be more conscientious about what I spend my time and energy on.

Mr. SH & I are feeling the need to purge again. I'm really getting into minimizing and he just likes cleanliness. I've spied him looking at tumbleweed houses though. Maybe I'm converting him! mwahahaha!
I'd like to get rid of about 1/3 of our remaining possessions. Did you know I currently don't have a kitchen table? Well now you do. It's been in the shed all month. We've been using a folding table. I haven't decided if I like this yet. I'll let you know.
I'm looking around my living room as I type this and trying to really decide if I want to own each possession. The couch, the piano, and at least two of the book shelves stay. I really don't want the vintage radio anymore or the fish tank currently resting on it. However, I can't bring myself to kill the frogs & fish so for now it stays. But once they die (on their own) those are gone!

I have 3 brown containers. One has extra cameras, cell phones, & other just in case items. I haven't used any of them in 3 years. The other has manuals that go to those items. And the third has fabric scraps. I have used those in the last year. I had a grand vision of making a quilt and then I had a third child.

Do I really think I'm going to make that quilt?

I still have a box of crafting supplies. I have more in my closet. I think I need a support group or something.

There are glasses in my kitchen I never use. And I seriously think I have about 8 bowls I never use. I have 3 lamps that are sitting in a closet I can't bare to part with just in case. I think I could write a whole post about those 3 words. My kids use wall lights now and I don't want to go back to table lamps because then you need a piece of furniture for them to rest on. Why keep them? Because they're pretty. So pretty sitting in my closet where no one can see them.

Someday I really will take pictures so you can see what I'm talking about. I'm terrible about uploading them, but I'll try to work on that.

I have 3 tall bookshelves in my living room. They contain lots of books, board games, video game stuff (that's hubby's), filing, and computer equipment. I wonder if I can pare it down to 2??? Just typing that makes me feel emotional and nervous. About STUFF. It's JUST STUFF.

I dream of being able to fit all my possessions in my car. Now keep in mind I have a sedan so no one else's stuff from the family would fit. But how wonderful would it be to know I could!

Allyson says "elephants"

I've posted this on my facebook page and got talked into posting it on you tube for the whole world to see. It's pretty funny and I'm curious to see how many views it can get. MAKE IT POPULAR PEOPLE!!! :)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

In the Dumps

I've been in a foul mood for a week now. The mastitis really took it out of me, followed by a family reunion 2 hours away. (so that's 4 hrs of driving!) By Sunday I was stressed and exhausted and happy to seek refuge in church. Alas, refuge eluded me. I was informed that for the next...however long...I needed to sit with my oldest son during his classes. Apparently he's been talking back to teachers, interrupting other children and telling them they're boring, and not staying in his seat. I want to crawl under a rock. I want to move away and never go to church again; I am so embarrassed! But in all honesty, how many tactful 5 year olds do you know? He's very well behaved when he sits with us and it makes me nervous to hear how different he is when I'm not around.

I know he's been adjusting to his new baby sister but I had no idea it was this bad. He starts kindergarten in less than 2 weeks and I am sick with dread. I've prayed about homeschooling but got a "not yet". There are things he needs to learn and I think kindergarten will be a good place for him to learn them. I just hope it doesn't break him in the process.
The next couple of months are going to be interesting around here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mastitis Sucks

Fever of 104. Aches & pains like the worst flu.
All because my little one yanked herself off from feeding.
Life is officially put on hold.

Monday, August 9, 2010


I loooooove books. I love reading them and holding them and yes, even smelling them. But I have too many. I really do. I even just put 2 book shelves in the shed to sell on craigslist. But I still have double shelved books. I was a book hoarder for so many years - up until Mr. SH and I decided to minimize our possessions last year. I still have far too many books and I really do want to pare them down but I find it overwhelming to even think of it. Then I read this blog post today: Breaking the Sentimental Attachment to Books

First of all, I just want to note that I am loving this blog because the man actually has children! It really is a gem to find a minimalist with a family! This post is by a guest author, but I am going to spend the next few days checking out Becoming Minimalist.

In particular I like the idea of having a desert island shelf. The books you would want if you were stranded on an island and you could read them over and over. So we're going to adapt this. We can't just have one "desert island" bookshelf, so we're going to have one for Mr. SH and one for Mrs. SH and one for Mr & Mrs SH where we'll have our limited/collector's edition books. Please don't ever ask me to give those up! I'm curious to see what is left when we're done.

Maybe doing that will help me to see if I can live without a lot of my books, especially the ones I've never read.
I'm scared!

Thursday, August 5, 2010


"We open and close headgates in effort to channel the child’s progression down a path that we know will bring good results."

This is a small ebook by Brian and Keri Tibbets that has been circling the web for a few months on the homeschooling blogs. I first read it in May and let it soak in and I think I'm finally ready to write my thoughts and feelings.
I think I understood headgates better after I became more familiar with TJED (thomas jefferson education), which headgates is based on. So if you're also trying to learn more about this approach, I strongly recommend reading both.

A headgate is gate that opens or closes to divert water onto fields for irrigation. If the wrong headgates are open or closed, the fields will not get water. The basic idea of the Headgates book is steering your children toward good things by keeping distractions and bad things away. For some this may come across as sheltering. But isn't our job as parents to shelter our kids? Do we take them to bars and tell them not to drink? No. We keep them away from bars and any other places that have a negative influence. Even as an adult I need to keep an eye on my own headgates. Which ones do I leave open so I get distracted from the things that truly bring me joy?

There were a few things I read that have really changed the way I look at how I run my household.
The first is having a house of order.

What does this mean?
What I've come to realize is a house of order doesn't just mean it's been cleaned. It means it isn't full of useless items. Nothing is wasted or wasteful. They mention order in relationships, meaning well defined masculine and feminine and child roles. I really liked this (except I'm the one who fixes things and see no problem with that). Now, the feminists are going to get their panties in a bunch reading it and I can't help that. If you need some help with it, read this wonderful article by the New York Times for (hopefully) a better understanding that staying home can be very rewarding. I have always struggled with my feminine roles, but everyone is happier when I embrace it in my own way. Personally, I take "homemaker" literally and tend to be the one wearing the tool belt. I also find way to make my home lovely for me, not for Better Homes and Gardens.
Also, order in appearance (self explanatory) and schedule. The schedule one I like because the idea is basically work the first half of the day and then free time. They then encourage mom to use free time for reading and hobbies and personal growth. I have been trying that and on the days I do it everyone is happy!
We were already practicing the ideas of requiring work and inspiring so the ideas there didn't mean as much to me. But the one that most people are talking about the section entitled: close the headgates

The reason this has become so controversial is because it makes you take a long hard look at your children's free time and toys. "Does the fun or the thrill of the play come from the child’s own brain, muscles, or voice box?" I think of an old buzz light year we had. When you pushed buttons, Buzz would say things. So instead of creating a dialog for Buzz, my kid would just push the buttons. They are much more happy and creative when hey play with basic toys like cars, jump rope and dolls.
"Who was the creative one, the toymaker or the child? In my experience, the more creative the toy, the less creative the child will be for having played with it. The less creative the toy, the more creative the child will be for having played with it—the child will have to be creative in order to get any enjoyment out of it." It's like the Buzz. That thing was so cool. But everything was so scripted!
And this was my favorite question:

"Can you imagine the turn your life would take for the better if you only owned 12-15 toys? I do not mean 15 sets of toys, or 12-15 per child; I mean 15 total toys."

I've narrowed ours down to 10 sets of toys for each child. That still shocks me because we got rid of half and then half again!! But I love blocks. I love seeing the things my children make with blocks. So I chose to go with sets. I also have lots of dress ups for my kids. But it's a lovely thought isn't it?

I think the thing I really need to ask myself is "can you imagine your life if you, personally, only owned 15 total toys?" The games I never play, the crafts I never make (yes, I still have them! ARG!)....

In my perfect world, I would rise an hour before my kids and read my scriptures and do some yoga. We'd eat and do the morning chores until lunch time. My kids would help as much as they can, with breaks for snacks and play. The house would b clean and dinner prep would be done. After lunch, everyone would have free time. They can play with toys, read, or play outside. Mom plays with them, reads, or sews. After dinner, the family works in the garden (kids usually end up on the swing set), reads together, and goes for walks.

These are things that reading headgates made me think about. Does it sound too idealistic? Maybe as an everyday thing, yes. But I've had days like that and they were beautiful!

Now, in the interest of fairness, here are the things I don't like about Headgates:
"You see, when a child knows that their boring “school work” is something they are “supposed” to do, they treat it like work, and they get in “get it done” mode. This way they can complete it quickly and get on with their day." That quote assumes that school work is always boring. Maybe this really shows what nerd I am, but I liked school work. I liked learning.

I also disagree with making a child wait before you teach them to read. When your child comes and says" mom teach me about Jesus" do you make them wait so they'll appreciate it more? NO! I feel the same way about reading. Do you drop everything and do it that instant, probably not. But be prepared for that day your child does ask that wonderful question, mom will you teach me to read?" Because I can tell you from personal experience, there are few things more satisfying.

Some of it seems too controlled. I like letting my kids scribble because it' how they learn to draw. But I don't want to encourage wastefulness so I'm still thinking that one over.

I strongly disagree with the idea that Lego's aren't creative. To be fair, the new specialty sets leave little wiggle room for creativity. Pieces used to be more multifunctional. But my son still manages to make bugs and machines from his. He's often at his most creative while building. I say leave the Lego's but take away the instruction booklets.

I don't think that we need to limit things in our lives based just on one book we read online. But if, while reading it, we find truth then I think it's worth taking a closer look at it and seeing if it's something we'd like to incorporate into our lives. If we truly want to have the best things in our lives then we need to look at everything we allow in and decide if it really does bring out the best in us and our family. It is hard!!! I haven't been able to do it, but I want to get there eventually.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

It's Like a Clown Car

This past weekend we had 45 people at our house. 45. I have to admit, I wanted a bigger house that day. Luckily we set up some outside seating so not everyone was in the living room. Still, it was cozy. See how I make it positive? It wasn't cramped, it was cozy!

Because of this get together we took the table out of the kitchen and have since left it in the shed. I love the space! We still have the benches and have a much smaller folding table up right now. It's going to take some rearranging, but I'm hoping to find an eating solution I finally like.

Having spent a day with some of the larger furniture out of my house, I'm remotivated to keep it out. Do I really need 4 bookshelves? I'm keeping the piano :)

I have been thinking about a lot of things lately.
I read a Thomas Jefferson Education and an article called Headgates which have got me thinking a lot about the environment my children are growing up in. These are both very popular are the homeschooling blogs I frequent. I didn't particularly like TJED, but it did motivate me to read more (thus less computer/blogging time) and get better books for my kids. Headgates also had things I didn't agree with, but the overall idea was wonderful! It encourages having a house of order (where have we heard that before?), having children work (and I love how they advise doing it), and limiting toys/entertainment...actually, I think I just want to write some blog posts just about Headgates. It really has me thinking a lot... moving on!

I've been reading a TON of religious books too. I feel like I'm starving for spiritual insight right now.

Our garden is really starting to produce. Next year though I want pole beans. Bush beans just didn't give me enough.

Most of all I'm still thinking about "stuff" and it's role in my life. How much am I letting my things define me? I feel like my self concept revolves around what books I own, the music I listen to, and the way my house is decorated. I want to rid myself of even more!! So I'm kind of in a crisis. Take away the stuff and what's left? Or rather, who is left? Who do I want to be left? I'm trying to figure that out.