Monday, March 28, 2011

Caleb: 9 Months

Has a month already past since we baby proofed and our little guy started crawling everywhere, taking long naps and waking only once per night? I think 30 days goes faster than it used to now that we're on baby time.

The 9th month has brought just as many changes as the 8th. In fact, there are so many things to share I think bullet points might be best! And of course, I've interspersed many cute Caleb photos through out : )


-Continues to sleep like a champ. Mommy gratefully said hello to 1.5 hour naps last month and they've returned every day since (for him, not mommy!)
-Wakes only once per night (usually).
-Can pull up, let go, and stand independently for a few seconds
-Can lower himself down from a standing position (without bonking his poor little head!)
-Loves to turn pages in books
-Flaps his arms and squeals with excitement when I read his favorites to him
-Finally said, "Dada" this month, although "Mama" and "Baba" remain the favorite noises (he loves lip sounds and raspberries!)
-Is starting to get his first tooth (*tear*)
-Can crawl faster than a speeding bullet
-Searches for toys under the couch
-Tried his first finger foods (peas and rice). The verdict is still out on the new texture : )
-"Asks" to be turned upside down and for the fan to be turned on
-Looks at the fan as soon as mommy flips the light switch

And yes, 9 months is my new favorite!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hot Spot #3: Toys and Baby Clothes

This week's hot spot challenge was to sort through toys and children's clothes. In our case, we have one 9-month-old who doesn't need much. So once again, the amount I had to sort wasn't all that exciting.

Tackling the toys was definitely the easiest. I can already fit all of Caleb's toys into one plastic bin with room to spare and he seems to enjoy all of them so I purged very little in that department.I did decide to pass on a couple things he rarely plays with to his soon-to-arrive cousin.

I decided to tackle his clothes by making "outfits". I tend to organize his drawers by type of clothing item (shirt, pants, etc.) but making them into (semi)matching outfits allowed me to see if there were gaps or a huge excess in any area. I discovered we have more outfits than he needs, but certainly not so many they don't all fit in one drawer. Since we plan to have more kids, I decided to keep almost all his clothes. I did get rid of a few things I decided didn't match anything else, weren't our style or would never fit him correctly based on his body type.



I packed up about half his toys (mostly things that are for him when he gets a little older or things he can only use with supervision right now). I also packed a carry-on bag full of clothes in the next size up. Based on the way he's been eating these past 2 days, I'm wondering if I'll need to get some of those back out before we move!

This challenge reminded me of several things I've learned in the baby clothes/toys department since becoming a mom:

-Skinny baby=cheap clothes! Target, Walmart, etc. all cut their clothes smaller than their name brand competitors. And if I do want "name brand" for some reason, the pre-shrunk yard sale variety fit best : )

-"Halo" brand sleep sacks are amazing once baby out grows being swaddled, especially if your hubby likes to sleep with the temperature just above "arctic" like mine : ) I love the Halo brand because it's armless and can go over long sleeved PJ's easily. They are pricey new, but I picked up 2 at a consignment shop for $6 a piece.

-You're probably noticing a trend by now. I can count on one hand the number clothes we've bought brand new. We've been blessed by generous bags of hand-me-downs from friends, new outfits from grandparents, aunties and others, and have filled the rest out with yard sale/consignment. One thing I do recommend getting new: Socks. Hanes have worked great for us.

-Another bonus of hand-me-downs: you get "half-size" clothing. Whenever Caleb is leaving one size and heading to the next one up, the hand-me-downs always get used first. They've been through someone else's dryer enough times to be slightly smaller than his new clothes. Perfect for that in-between stage.

As for toys, I've learned one simple rule. Mommy and Daddy's things are infinitely more interesting that Caleb's toys. He loves when we can find grown-up items he can have (tupperware, waterproof/shockproof camera, laundry basket, etc.) Check out this "stacking toy" I set up for him this week:

Another big hit:

Of course, we still have plenty of tried-and-true baby toys that he loves:

-A stack of rings
-Many many many board books. This kid probably spends 20% of his day turning pages and eating corners.
-Balls and rolling toys
-2-3 battery operated talking toys
-an unbreakable mirror
-assorted stuffies and teethers

The typical state of our living room

One emotion that kept welling up in my as I sorted through these items was gratitude. I could fit the items we've purchased for Caleb into one medium sized box. Family, friends and people we haven't even met have been so generous welcoming this little life and passing things down. The memories that go with so many of the items make our lives that much richer. Every day I feed Caleb in the booster seat that I gave snacks to by nephew- and neice-by-love in, I see him wearing clothes other special little ones have enjoyed, I give him a blanket made by a grandparent, I chase him with his favorite tiger stuffie from Uncle Brian and Aunt Amy, and I'm reminded of how much we're looked after and loved. Especially by Uncle Brian...he really wanted to keep that tiger!

Hot spot #3 is complete and I am more prepared for this move than I've ever been for those in the past. I get very overwhelmed by something as complex as "moving" or "spring cleaning". These assignments have taught me how much can be accomplished when I focus on one area at a time and keep going until it's completely finished.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

There and Back Again: A Tallahassee Tale

Basing your blog title off of the Hobbit automatically brings up the awesomeness quotient of the post, does it not? Not that our life needs any boosting in the awesome department. We were blessed to divide our time this weekend between 5 wonderful families. The only negative, besides being incredibly busy, was simply that 2 days is not long enough to fit in the other 5 or so families we'd have loved to have seen during our time there.

Friday night we started the 5.5 hour trek. Caleb's sleep schedule has been so thrown off since the time change. My baby who could previously barely stay awake until 6pm began going to sleep around 7/7:30. No problem, we naively thought. He will just sleep in the car seat. Ha ha. At first all was going well. Caleb napped almost as soon as we got on the road. When he awoke we stopped for dinner for him and us. By the time 7:30 rolled around he was showing signs (like screaming) of being ready for sleep. However, for a devoted tummy sleeper, being trapped on your back in a car seat is one step shy of torture when you're trying to go night-night. I spent the better part of the next hour alternatively distracting him and praying he would sleep. No such luck. We arrived at my friend, Michelle's house at 8:30, let him burn off some energy for 20 minutes and then put him to bed. Ah, sleep at last!

The morning brought more fun as Michelle's 18 month old, Zoey, was also awake and ready to play. The kids had fun together while the adults traded off keeping an eye on them, showers and breakfast.

Then our day really began. Our first stop was to our former pastor's family. Visits in their home always leave me with a sense of refreshment and peace. It's hard to believe how much their children have grown and changed in just the few months since Christmas. Caleb took his morning nap there and then we were off to a very special visit with David's grandfather.

Lunch dates with Grandaddy are a staple of every Tallahassee visit. We always go to Hopkins Eatery and enjoy mint tea and seafood sandwiches. The atmosphere is perfect for lingering, even with a sometimes noisy little one. This time, Caleb was able to join in on the eating and Grandaddy got to see him devouring his food like a big boy.

Next it was back to our pastor's family's home to let Caleb take his afternoon nap. Their house is just set up so nicely for napping and, I must admit, we were eager to steal some more time with them. We walked in to the smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies by their oldest daughter (yum!) and enjoyed another fun visit.

After Caleb awoke we drove over to the Holiday Inn where our friends were throwing a party for their 5th anniversary. It was so nice of them to make time for us on such a special day and we enjoyed our quick visit and planning their visit to us in the fall/winter. We love visitors, we get snow, we're near Gettysburg, DC isn't too far away, same with Philly! *Shameless plug for all our FL friends to come visit us!*

After that, we scooted across town to visit David's cousin and Aunt. I'd met them all once before at David's graduation, but this was our first chance to get to know each other a little better. Colleen and I keep up on facebook. Technology is such a blessing when you live far from family!

Caleb started breaking down so we loaded him into the car seat and headed for Michelle's again. Her home was such a wonderful place of rest at the end of a busy day. She had a delicious dinner waiting for us just after we arrived. Can I just say chicken apple sausage is amazing? After the kiddos were tucked into bed for the night we played Agricola and waited for her hubby and son to come home from their father/son weekend trip. We finally turned in from our big day around 11.

The next morning was full of packing up and getting ready for church. Caleb and Zoey played together so sweetly. Zoey kept hugging Caleb and he was enchanted by her ability to climb on things : )Finally, everyone was dressed and ready so we said our good-byes and headed to church.

Caleb and I watched most of Pastor Jim's wonderful sermon on prayer in the cry room. Not because Caleb was crying, but because he was so enthusiastically vocal about the service. I was worried everyone could hear his exclamations, but thankfully, they could not : ) Afterward we got to briefly spend time visiting with many special people we rarely get to see now.

We had hoped to spend the afternoon with another couple we are close to, but knew it was unlikely due to illness. When those plans fell through, Pastor Jim and his family graciously opened up their home to us again for Caleb to nap before the big trip home.

Knowing this would be our last visit for quite a while I found it harder to say goodbye to everyone than ever, especially Grandaddy. I cried for about 30 minutes after we left. It's hard to no longer be a regular part of the lives of people you love so much which is true no matter where we move, but I always find that letting go process a difficult one.

Fortunately the return trip was easier than going up. Caleb fell asleep around 7:30 and stayed asleep until we returned to our apartment. His schedule seems to be heading back to normal, whatever that is any more!

I feel so blessed that we have so many people we love and are loved by no matter where we go, but I must admit, this weekend drained me emotionally and I know the next 3 weekends of "last visits" with our respective families won't be any easier. I'm seeking rest and peace in God's plan for our family and trying to stay focused on the joy of reuniting with friends and church family in PA while allowing myself to grieve this move. Simple right?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hot Spot #2: Paper Clutter

This weeks hot spot was ideal in terms of preparing for our move. As I gathered up stacks of paper from my desk, the dining room table, our dresser, and ironing board, I was actually pleasantly surprised at how well I've done at keeping junk mail in the recycling bin where it belongs. So what was in these stacks? Receipts, pieces of bills, church bulletins, 2010 tax documents, computer software, CD jackets, magazines and even *gulp* one bill that had gotten buried (fortunately discovered before being past due). What a good reminder of why a good organizational system is important in this department!

Left is my "to recycle" box and right is the "to-be sorted".

Due to the move, my personal "finished product" is having all the things to be shredded in a red folder and the rest packed neatly in a box ready to be packed into the car. All the recyclables are where they belong, the to-be sorted box is empty and I'm feeling pretty good, until I remember we will need to reorganize our filing system at home, which will show how woefully behind I really am!

I realize reading about me cleaning approximates the excitement found in clipping your toenails, but I am such a (recovering) procrastinator and this is really helping me knock out tasks that need to be done before the 11th hour. Although my stack of papers might not look very big, I wish I could have posted a photo of the 20 tiny stacks of paper on the bed as I sorted through each item. However, having a husband with his masters in information security makes me a little paranoid about who can see my very public blog, enlarge photos and have all our important information (because believe me, if it wasn't important, it did not get filed!)

I would have never taken on such a big project this week with how busy we've been around here, but found that, with a deadline looming, I can push myself further than I think.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Random Mom Thoughts

Just a few thoughts that have run across my mind today in my life as a mom, plus a couple bonus pictures of Mr. Adorable himself.

~I never thought I'd need an instruction manual to put together a sippy cup. Turns out, not only do I need it, I had to read it thrice before I could get any liquid to come out.

~My son, who now spurns the bottle, will happily drink from his sippy and cry when it's empty.

~I hauled one 17lb baby, 2 gallons of milk, 1 diaper bag and 1 reusable bag full of groceries up a flight of stairs today. A personal best in my mental mom Olympics.

~Caleb is growing up way, way, way too fast.

Other thoughts for the day include how much I'm going to miss everyone in Florida and how excited I am to see friends and family who live up north. Any chance I can convince all of you to relocate to dutch country PA? We don't get that much snow and have the best sweet corn you've ever tasted. Really, it's that good!

I'm really excited about Project Simplfy's hot spot this week: paper clutter. I'm not very good at handling the paper clutter we get at our house in PA, but here in the apartment, lacking any filing system what-so-ever, it's piling up, despite best efforts. I certainly don't want to be packing any junk mail to take back with us! I feel so much less stressed about the move now that these projects are helping me get ready a piece at a time.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Hot Spot #1: Our Master Closet

For those who haven't read already, over the next 5 weeks, I'll be participating in project simplify. This weeks hot spot was the master closet. I thought this would be a snap considering I only have to sort through the few clothes I brought down here with me. Then I had an unfortunate realization...the master closet is my "stash space" before company comes. Everything that doesn't quite have a home ends up on this shelf (or the guest room closet, but that's another story!)

Here are some "before" photos:

There were a couple things I knew I wouldn't be able to do anything about. The pillows and blankets cluttering the top of the closet are government issue. We replaced them with our own from home as soon as we arrived. Also, notice the box of books on the floor? We were blessed to be provided with a furnished apartment. The one thing missing? A book shelf! So, that's been our make shift "book spot" these past 5 months.

The first thing I did was pull everything off my "stash" shelf and onto the bed. Here's what I discovered:

2 purses in desperate need of being cleaned out (as in, I found cough drops in there that I know, for a fact, were given to me by someone at church in Tallahassee almost 3 years ago...)

Baseball caps

An ice scraper

3 pedometers (provided by our health insurance company as a bonus for filling out a survey. One for each insured member they proudly proclaim. I'm temped to strap one on the back of Caleb's diaper and take a picture : ) It was fun to discover we walk 2300 steps during our evening walk (or 4600 if we do 2 laps, it depends on the night).

Lots and lots of paper clutter that should have gone to the trash can instead of the closet (are you surprised?)

Probably the most interesting find was a stack of magazine articles I've saved out for my "mom notebook". My mom notebook is my attempt to keep things organized in our crazy, frequent travel, life. It has Caleb's medical records and some of mine and David's as well, the phone number for my lactation consultant, recipes I didn't want to be without and new ones to try, activity ideas for kids I loved and want to try when Caleb is ready for them. However, these things are supposed to be stuffed into plastic page protector sleeves and organized by section. In reality about 6 of them look like that, the rest are stuffed in the front or back pocket or in this stack in my closet. Seeing the stack motivated me to purchase more page protectors and actually get my notebook functioning this coming week!

This hot spot was perfect for helping me meet my goal to get our apartment ready to move one step at a time, rather than scrambling at the last minute. Because of this project I:

Got rid of a bunch of trash

Organized important papers

Packed all our winter clothes into a suit case for the return trip

packed another bag for good will

and organized all our random electronic bits into one spot

And the result of all that hard work?

I really need this accountability to stay motivated for things that don't need to be done right now. I'm looking forward to the next 4 spots!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

One Small Thing

It's been a while since I updated my progress on January and Febuary's goals.

In January my word was routine. I sought to begin the day with a warm breakfast, do 10 minutes of tummy toning 3x's/week, take a morning shower and ditch the jammies for real clothes, and most importantly make time for scripture and prayer.

Of course, I was hoping building this habit in January would help it continue through out the year and it has...sorta. I do eat a warm breakfast every single morning now. I think of it as cafe mom. I wait to eat until Caleb's morning nap (usually around 8:30am since he's up at 6:30). Then I head to the kitchen to make a bagel sandwich and small cup of coffee. It takes about 5 minutes from start to finish(seriously!) and then I can sit down on the couch sipping my home made latte topped with whip cream and eating a meal that actually fills me until his afternoon nap! During this time I read a few inspiring blogs or messages from friends. It's such a wonderful way to start my day.

Tummy toning did not survive long past January, but I feel like it did it's job. I still have a little preggo pooch, but it's less noticeable now and I feel comfortable with my body again, which was the whole point anyway : )

I'd say getting out of jammies before noon happens 70% of the time now. I can live with that success rate at this stage of our lives!

I had a 2-3 week lapse in time with God in February that I'm happy to say has been reversed. I'm back to enjoying opening most days conversing with God and reading through 1st Samuel. I love getting to see how over and over again David prays and trusts what God has to say about each situation rather than what his own experience tells him. It's a reminder I need often right now.

February brought 2 new goals: updating the budget and becoming less critical in my heart and in my speech. Not surprisingly, I had a really hard time being less critical when I wasn't spending time with God. I was invited to a wonderful study on peacemaking that convicted me in so many areas and brought me back to scripture again and again. If you've never seen any material written by peacemaker ministries I highly recommend this site about Biblical responses to conflict. It's been so helpful in seeing my own role in conflict more clearly and addressing unhealthy responses. Overall, I've seen a lot of growth in this area of my life with plenty more room to continue : )

And finally, I did manage to update the budget weekly in February. However, it didn't stop my from blowing right past my grocery "magic number". After some discussion with David we decided we couldn't meet our current health goals with the old number. So we eliminated another area of the budget and added that amount to grocery. It was a tough choice because I really wanted to make the old number work. However, with this season of preparing to move again I am finding giving myself some grace makes for a happier mommy and happier family. I'm so thankful for David's support during times like these!

I'm not making any goals for March or April. We'll be transitioning from FL to PA in the middle of next month and I expect I'll be using extra time and energy to prepare for that as well as prepare my heart for Easter. Although I'm not Catholic, I've found Lent to be a good time for me to step back from other obligations and focus on my relationship with Christ. It seems to reset my compass for the year. Since I do have many Catholic friends, I find their thoughts during this time very encouraging to that journey as well.

I am participating in Project Simplify however because I know it will motivate me to get this place packed and cleaned in small pieces, which is what I need to be doing anyway!

I also plan to do one small thing over these next two months: keep my stove top clean! If you've ever tried the "fly lady" method of house keeping, you know she recommends a shiny sink as the one thing to make sure gets done each day because it just makes you feel good. Shiny sinks don't do it for me since I (confession) really dislike doing dishes. But I love cooking. And something about cooking on a nice clean stovetop makes me smile.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Mission Statement at Last

Way (way, way) back in November I blogged about creating a family mission statement. We found ourselves feeling a little lost between moving 1300 miles (again) and having just become parents. David and I were hoping to craft an encompassing statement of values to help us know where to focus our energy in a world that offers us almost limitless choices.

After a season of prayer, conversation and learning about ourselves we crafted this statement:

We, the Gainey family, believe that our purpose as a family is to bring glory to God. We hope to accomplish this by:
~valuing scripture and prayer as our guides.
~making our home a place of simplicity, stewardship and teamwork.
~prioritizing relationships over lesser values.
~interacting with each other in a spirit of love and respect.

While I can read this and know the depth of each word as it resonates in our hearts, I think a brief explanation of each section might be helpful (and good for me to look back on in the future!)

We, the Gainey family, believe that our purpose as a family is to bring glory to God.
If you're not a believer, the idea that we think our family is here to glorify God may sound a bit strange, if not narcissistic! We believe that the more joy we have in knowing God, the more glory we bring to him. Just as, when you enjoy who your husband or wife is and share that with others, it brings glory to them, although we might not typically think about it that way.

valuing scripture and prayer as our guides.

If we are going to enjoy who God is, how better to get to know him than through scripture and prayer? Sadly, we often choose to entertain ourselves rather than fill ourselves with the relationship our hearts most crave.

making our home a place of simplicity, stewardship and teamwork.
As we talked about how we saw our home (both the physical dwelling and the people in it) several themes kept resurfacing.

Simplicity: Having fewer things to maintain, clean, etc. to allow more time for relationships.

Stewardship: of our bodies, of the earth, our time, our finances, etc. This was just a huge topic for us.

Teamwork: David and I love to tackle things as a team. From rock climbing to loading the dishwasher we find life more fun when we work on things side by side.

prioritizing relationships over lesser values.
When life gets crazy, what is the one thing we refuse to sacrifice? Relationships: With God, each other, our children, our extended family and our friends. Will we be perfect? Nope. However, it's a great reminder that an unexpected visit with a friend in my messy house trumps putting off spending time together any day.

And finally, interacting with each other in a spirit of love and respect.

David and I find those two words sum up what needs to happen for us to feel close to one another.

There's nothing magical about having a mission statement. We'll still feel overwhelmed and unsure sometimes many times, but it's an anchor to come back to. Simple words, simple conversations, but I learned so much about my husband's heart (and my own) on our journey to write them. Thanks for letting me share them with you.

If you'd like to craft your own family mission statement, this post was our primary resource.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday Favorite: Crock Pot Roasted Chicken

Despite how wonderfully inexpensive they are, I've always been intimated by whole chicken. Until my mom gave me a simple recipe that showed me how simple cooking one in the crock pot is.

Here is the basic recipe, adjust as you wish:

Place 1 whole chicken (~4-5lbs) in the crockpot. Make sure to remove the bag of giblets from the inside. I throw these away personally, but that's entirely up to you!

Squeeze the juice from 1/2 a lemon over the chicken.
Tip: to get more juice from the lemon (or any other citrus) roll it on the counter a few times, applying pressure with your hand.

Sprinkle some Italian Seasoning over the top.
I love McCormick's Italian Seasoning Grinder.

Add 2-4 optional ingredients:
Chopped: onion, carrots, celary, and/or potatoes are all wonderful additions. If you're going to serve the veggies from the crock pot, slice them more thinly (1/4 inch is best), if you're just going to use them for flavor, feel free to leave them in large pieces.

Cook on low for 7-8 hours. My crock pot will cook a 4lb bird in 4-6 hours on low, and while I have done it this way, I prefer the flavor and tenderness that comes with longer cooking.

This week I cooked up one of the chickens I bought during Whole Food's 1 day chicken sale. At 1.69/lb for organic chicken it was a great deal. My 4.25lb bird yielded 6 generous cups of meat that I bagged up in portion sizes to use in casseroles, soups, fajitas and stir frys. I'll be honest with you, picking all that meat off the bones is not worlds most attractive job, but the flavor and tenderness make it totally worth it!

Last night I made chicken 3 quesadillas from 1 cup of meat. They were so filling, David and I couldn't finish them. Although the recipe I used was super simple, they tasted better than anything I've eaten at a restaurant! So here's your bonus recipe, if something so simple can be called a recipe : )

Chicken Quesadilla's
1 cup shredded white meat chicken
3 tortilla's
2 cups shred cheese (cheddar, mexican blend, etc.)
~1 tblspn butter

Heat a frying pan to medium high. Melt a sliver of butter and place tortilla in pan. Sprinkle cheese and chicken over tortilla, fold over and continue flipping until golden brown spots appear and cheese melts. Place on pan in oven set on warm, repeat with the following 2 tortillas. Serve with sour cream, salsa and guacamole to complete the experience.

Sadly, I keep forgetting to take pictures of my Friday Favorites. Maybe next time!

I almost forgot to mention my very favorite part of cooking a whole chicken: home made broth! If you're time crunched, you can strain and freeze the juice the chicken makes while cooking as a thick broth (I thin mine with about a cup of water when I turn it into soup) and stop there. However, I like to make my bones do double duty. I put them back in a pot on the stove, add carrots, onion and celery, cover with water and let it simmer for at least an hour. More broth! It makes the best soup you've ever tasted : )

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Why the 8th month is awesome (and challenging!)

5 Things I love about Caleb right now:

1. This face:

2. He's started repeating vowel sounds and he even imitates our exaggerated "baby talk" voice. Example: we say "hiiii" and he says "iiiiii!"

3. Crawling = sleeping. For the first time ever Caleb is regularly taking 1.5 hour naps during the day and has even started sleeping 10-11 hours straight at night (max used to be 5-6).

4. He loves to turn pages. He'll open a book and turn the pages as if he's reading. He also loves to listen to mommy read to him.

5. How he gets so excited to crawl after something he runs into things (door frames, coffee table legs, other toys, etc.) and it doesn't even phase him (usually). In fact, sometimes he will bat at whatever he ran into as if to say, "excuse you!"

3 Things I'm finding Challenging about Caleb right now:

1. My new role in life is to let him crawl to the furthest extent of his "safe" domain (which is a pretty big area!) and then reset him back to the beginning. He takes all this in stride. Poor mommy just can't seem to figure out what he wants...he'll just have to show her for the 665th time : )

2. I'm down to one laundry basket. I had 3. The other 2 are now residing underneath the end tables so lamp and laptop cords are a much bigger challenge to get to (what is so tantalizing about them in the first place, I wonder?)

3. There is no laughing, sneezing or coughing allowed in our home any more. Caleb finds each of these noises jarring, surprising and upsetting. Here's his face after mommy had the audacity to sneeze this morning:

I really love this stage. Even the challenges are fun. For the first time, I feel like I truly look forward to everyday as a stay at home mom. I'm sure there will be plenty of these ups and downs over the next couple decades, but it's nice to be on my first big "up" of enjoying life as a mom! Of course, the sleeping might have something to do with it too....

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

How moving 1300 miles helped me learn to let go

October 2010 was a rough month for our family. We'd known David would need to do a job rotation in the next year. We figured it would last about 3 months and be in a location close enough to our permanent residence that we could return home on the weekends. We also thought we'd have plenty of notice as to when this move would occur. However, God had other plans for us. We found out in late September we'd be leaving our home, moving 1300 miles away, packing everything into 2 cars for 6 months. Did I mention our colicky 3 month old had been waking every 45 minutes during the night for a month at this point?

Fortunately, God also provided my mom, who had already bought her plane ticket to visit us months ago. Her stay fell on the week prior to our move. She graciously helped us pack and forfeited her return plane ticket in favor of entertaining Caleb in the cramped back seat of my Pontiac for 997 miles.

So what did we pack into our cars? Each person got a suitcase of clothing, then there were toiletries, basic pantry items like pasta, rice and broth, two small boxes of cherished books (one for us and one for Caleb), linens and towels, a few cooking items I didn't want to be without (you know how I feel about my crock pot...), and lots and lots of baby stuff. We packed his crib, mattress, pack and play, booster seat, toys, diapers and the next 3 sizes of clothes since they change every 3 months!

At first, I felt a little deprived. I missed unlimited kitchen utensils and bowls, a bookshelf full of books, a closet full of clothes. Slowly, I started to discover something: even with the few things we brought I still only wear about 50% of my clothes regularly, I tend to cook with the same pots over and over because they're my favorites and I have a lot less time to read than I used to. Not only was I not missing my overabundance of stuff, I found an even greater treasure- with fewer things to take care of (straighten, clean, find a home for, etc.) I had more time with my family and less stress over house work.

If you read my blog often, you probably already know I find a lot of my inspiration from Simple Mom. Until this move, I never fully grasped the reality of her basic premise: Fewer things leads to more happiness and time. Of course I could have found this inspiration elsewhere, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal." -Matt. 6:19

I understood the verses about giving to those who have need. Before this trip, I didn't understand my need to not be encumbered by things. Living in America, I doubt I'll ever be done with this journey of having less stuff, but I'm thankful God placed this move in our life to get us on the road to living more simply.

If this post resonates with you, but you're not sure how to get started, click the "I'm decluttering" button near the top of my blog. Starting March 7th, I'll be joining lots of other moms in tackling 5 household hot spots for clutter and posting my before and after pictures on here (prepare yourself not to judge!). I'd love to have some of my "real life" friends decluttering along with me. And despite the name of the blog, you definitely don't have to be a mom to benefit from her writing.

It's hard to believe that I have lived without every single thing that is still cluttering our home in PA for 6 months, quite happily in fact, with very few exceptions. I'm looking at learning to let go of the things here that don't add beauty to or have purpose in our home as practice for doing the same thing again when we return to PA. I could write so much more on how having less in our home has been good for my heart, my creativity and has actually helped me enjoy the things we do have more because it continues to amaze me each day!