Friday, February 21, 2014

Keep it Simple.

When the New Year came, I thought about what I wanted to change. I didn't have a set "resolution" in mind, but I knew that in as many ways as possible I simply wanted to "simplify". I didn't know exactly what that would look like, but I knew it started with the obvious: getting rid of stuff, and finding ways to have less clutter and distraction in both the physical/tangible ways as well as (and probably even more importantly) with my time. I have four children 4 1/2 and under. I am BUSY. From the moment I wake up in the morning until...well...until they're all sleeping (and usually all four sleeping at the same time isn't a very big chunk of time) I'm on the move. Preparing snacks and meals, picking up the house, doing laundry, wiping bottoms, preparing more snacks and meals, answering questions, reading books, PREPARING MORE SNACKS AND MEALS, wiping messes off the floor (as well as more bottoms), changing dirty clothes, doing more laundry, answering more get the picture. Two things that were making everything even harder were too much stuff, and too much social media.

You see, when you have four kids under four, there is stuff EVERYWHERE. Even if every kid only has minimal clothing and toys and shoes...when you times that by four it suddenly isn't so minimal.  We purge stuff on a regular basis (we have to or we would literally be drowning or completely unable to move in our 1656 square foot house), but there was still just too much. And the toys. Don't get me started. We neatly sorted everything into cute plastic boxes, but the kids would get them down, dump them on the floor, spread them to every nook and cranny in the house, and then happily play with them for hours ... NOPE. That was it. They would spread them to every nook and cranny of the house and then just abandon them and ask if they could go outside or play with playdough. So why, day after day, hour after hour did I continue to bend over 1,000 times picking up 1,000 tiny toys??? It was insanity! So we moved them completely out of reach - INTO THE GARAGE (after discarding another 1/3 of them) with the intention of only bringing in one box per child at a time and making the kids play with one box, clean it up, and then and only then could they ask for a different box. Do you know what happened? They asked for a box of trains and blocks, AND THEY ARE STILL PLAYING WITH THE BOX OF TRAINS AND BLOCKS...2 months later. They don't NEED 1,000 toys! They don't even miss them! They play with each other or ask to take baths or go outside or read a book (those they still have full access to on a bookshelf in their bedroom). 

Another decision I made was to quit Facebook. I won't go into complete detail about how "attached" I was to that blue social media app, but let's just say my phone was always within reach and although it seemed harmless, I was checking it all. the. time. If the kids were occupied for a minute, I'd check Facebook. If dinner was cooking, I'd check Facebook. The hours and hours of the day and night I spend nursing Abigail every week - guess where I was? Iphone in hand checking Facebook. Now, I'm not saying Facebook is bad. I rather enjoyed it and the 500 friends and family members I just would not have contact with without it, but it was a constant distraction. I was practically living my life in Facebook statuses and feeling like I could never "catch up" - there was always a comment to reply to or a message from someone or just the habitual desire to scroll through the homepage seeing every photo and update and comment written by everyone all the way back until I got to something familiar (from when I had checked it 17 minutes earlier) and my brain could say "ahhh, see, you have missed nothing now. Mission accomplished." The thing I love about Instagram (and yes, I am very much still active over there...) is that it's just photos. No political postings, no status updates, no messages, no groups or pages. JUST. PHOTOS. And that's what I love. I love taking photos. I love sharing photos. Instagram is perfect for me right now. Yes, I miss certain aspects of Facebook, but you know what? Ripping off the band-aid was easier than I expected. I thought I would have withdrawals or give in and change my mind and race back to check the 4,342 status updates I had missed those first 5 days away, but honestly, I've hardly thought about it. I've been too busy enjoying hot bubble baths and good books and TALKING TO MY HUSBAND. Oh, and look...I finally had a chance to blog again! I even finally got around to painting my laundry room a pretty color after 8 years of living in this house with scuffed up, off-white, bullet-riddled looking laundry room walls that had seen too many hammers and nails and not enough spackle. Now? It looks amazing. I freaking cannot WAIT to do more laundry:)

Also on my list of other ways to simplify? Simplifying my diet. Less "clutter" (sugar, toxins, and stuff I just don't need) and more of the simple stuff. More water. More fruits and vegetables and beans and grains. Why does eating well have to be complicated? Sometimes the simplest snacks are the most fulfilling. A few favorite simple combos I've (re)discovered lately are: 
1. Apple slices and cheese
2. Hummus and cucumber slices
3. Black beans and Quinoa (Try this simple, delicious recipe)
4. A banana and a spoon to apply heaping scoops of cocoa almond butter to each bite:) 

And my new, favorite SIMPLE dinner recipe? Roasted Veggie Pasta. 

Photo courtesy of

I got the idea Here, but I've made it even simpler, and it is SO SO good! All you need: Veggies, Pasta, and Parmesan cheese (plus a few spices and olive oil). Here's how you do it:

1. Preheat your oven to 375. In a roasting pan or on a cookie sheet, spread out about 2-3 cups of chopped (bite sized) veggies. I like to use red bell pepper, mushroom, carrots, and asparagus (make sure to discard the woody stems first). Sprinkle them generously with oregano and rosemary, salt and pepper, a little minced garlic (if you like), coat and toss with about 2T olive oil and roast for 15-20 minutes (I like to pull them out about halfway through to mix them around so they cook evenly).

2. While your veggies are roasting, boil your favorite pasta. I like bowtie for this dish. Drain.

3. When your veggies are tender and done, pull them out and sprinkle some shredded parmesan cheese on top so it can melt slightly on the hot veggies. Fill bowls with your pasta, top with scoops of roasted veggies, add more parmesan if you wish, and voila! A delicious, healthy, SIMPLE dinner. I make it every week now. At least once. 

I'd also really like to learn how to knit, and cannot wait to get my garden planted. I plan to be outdoors with the kids a LOT once things warm up around here!

How are you simplifying your life?


  1. It's lovely to *meet* you...thank you for stopping by my place and for leaving a sweet comment behind. :)

    I SO hear you on social media! I gave up FB long ago due to it's constant distraction. I like to take blogging breaks as well and seek to adhere to the parameters I set on my time there.

    You are right...time is precious, and so are the little people in your care. This is just such a brief (but, intense...let's not forget intense...and exhausting) time in your life. But, these are important things...the Lord will give you wisdom as you navigate the path He has you on.

    Many Blessings,

  2. So much of this resonates with me! I've been using Instagram more and Facebook much MUCH less (though since I use it for business as well I don't think I can delete it completely) Simplifying life for us these days means no TV during the week and I am loving getting to go on walks before/after dinner (or I intend to at least!) and getting to visit with my hubby. It's amazing how much smoother our evenings go without the extra clutter in our lives!

  3. If'n ya want, give me a call and I'd love to get together and teach you how to knit.......and just visit.

  4. I have up FB a little over a year ago and it has been quite liberating. I find myself less distracted, more focused on my own goals, and my "real" friendships better bc when I don't see their constant status updates I make more time to *gasp* talk on the phone because we actually have things to talk about.