Saturday, March 29, 2014

Saying yes

No, really. Guess.

As I've mentioned before, I read a few minimalism / non-consumer / zero waste blogs, and one of the reoccurring themes I see is Saying No (caps so you know it's totally legit). The premise is that we take on way more than we can possibly do, yet somehow manage to take still more on because... um, that's just the American way, I guess. We're go-getters by nature. We love busyness. We need to learn to say no.

I totally see the point of these articles. It's ridiculous that we feel obligated to do everything at the expense of our lives and our health and our mental stability.


Since embracing minimalism, I've learned something about myself: I was a minimalist before I even knew what that was. I'm an introvert married to an introvert, which cuts out a lot of social commitments (ha!); instead of volunteering constantly at the girls' schools, I only help out during the "big" events, like book fairs and carnivals; same with the church Altar Society, expect instead of book fairs and carnivals, it's holiday bazaars and the annual rummage sale. In other words, I'm already good at saying yes to only the things I truly want to do. (Book fairs! Are fun!)


I say no to my family. A lot. Five o'clock rolls around and I am ready to come home and regroup from a day filled chores, work and general togetherness. I'd rather say yes to my iPad and my Kindle than my family and my house. I am the queen of individual, not group, endeavors.

Lately I've been paying particular attention to how I interact with my family, kind of as a Lenten thing and kind of as a way to look at things differently. Instead of saying no, I'm saying yes. Yes to (almost) everything, no matter what it is. Yes, I totally want to take a walk with you! Yes, I do want to hear what you've written today on "Cooki the Cookie Loving Cat!" Yes, let's play Legos! Barbies! Paint! Yes, we can read that stack of books! Yes, I will edit your essay! Yes, I would LOVE to play Clue! Twice! Yes, let's bake cupcakes! Yes, Skate Night would be great fun!

I won't lie, "no" is always on the tip of my tongue. I have to remind myself that I am saying yes. A breath before answering, that's the ticket.

Actually, sometimes I find myself saying yes without even using the word: Fully listening and participating in a conversation, preparing meals and snacks, even laundry. When I choose to say yes, I don't feel frustrated that I'm not doing what I want to do. Instead, I feel a patience and peace and connectedness. That sounds a little cheese and whack, I know this, but I can't figure out how else to say it.

And while my little family is the general recipient of all these yeses, it's spilled over into other areas of my life as well. That guy in the bulk section who wants to talk about his IBS even though I have to be at work in 20 minutes? Yes. The 96-year-old who wants to talk about Our Town History when I'm just there to pick up her subscription check for Abby? No problem. My buddy Lloyd who keeps calling the office to ask us to look up phone numbers for him because he can't see? Will do.

The moral of the story is that it's been an interesting experiment. It's gotten way easier now that we're on day 25 (of Lent). I feel a little shabby that I have to work so hard to, you know, pay attention to the three people I love most in the world.

P.S. Of course I have to say no sometimes (Johanna really wanted to go to the park this week, but it was cold and rainy, so yeah, wasn't feeling it). I just try to make sure it's truly worthy of a no before I open my mouth. Um, or that's the idea, anyway.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Project 333 winter wrap-up

Johanna's anime snowman I may or may not have already posted.
The last time I wrote about Project 333, I was fighting serious shopping pangs and looking forward to selecting my next 33 for the April-June cycle. And here we are, right on the cusp, and I find that I don't really mind my winter 33 that much after all.


Well, this stuff has served me well. I didn't keep track of numbers this time because numbers are boring, so I can't give you exact figures, although why you would care about the exact figures of my wardrobe is beyond my comprehension. I can tell you that my winter capsule got me through weekends, work days, hospital visits, church, a whole slew of basketball games, interviews, walks, road trips, cold snowy days and warmer spring days. Some of my items I decided I liked in theory but not in real life, and they are currently in my basement awaiting the annual church rummage sale in June. Some of my items I decided I like way too much to part with for the spring cycle, so they will stay in my closet.

The other day I emptied out my wardrobe, aka Where I Store All My Extra Crap Clothes, and it was kind of fun to see what I had in there after all this time. Some of this stuff I haven't seen in six months, and it was like, hey, I remember you! There were a few no-brainers to include, and a few more that I had to really think about. Because 33 is a lot, and also a challenge.  Especially when you're holding over 19 of your winter items. But that's another post for another time.

Here's what I learned this winter from Project 333:

  1. It's okay not to shop and enjoy what you already have.
  2. A nice tank top will serve you well when the weather unexpectedly turns lovely.
  3. All the clothes in a 33-piece wardrobe need to be your favorite/best clothes.
  4. Bright scarves keep neutral basics from feeling so... neutral.
  5. Sometimes what sits untouched at the beginning suddenly becomes the go-to piece at the end (looking at you, beige and denim jackets).
  6. Whatever you wear on any particular day is going to make you feel like a rock star (see #3).

And here's why I encourage you to join Project 333 if you're on the fence:

  1. There's a lot of freedom in dressing with less. It's not as limiting as you might think.
  2. NOBODY notices. Seriously. They just don't.
  3. Feeling like a rock star all the time is awesome.
  4. Worry about not having enough/needing something in the future/making the wrong choice never, ever pans out. 
  5. Look, it's not like you pick 33 items and toss the rest. You just put them away. You can go back to those items any time. This isn't clothing jail.
  6. And yes, you can still shop--you just have to cycle other items out.

So that's it for winter. Shout out to my wool-ish coat for keeping me toasty warm every single day, my tall black boots for just being awesome, and my black long-sleeve t-shirt for being a workhorse.

The end.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Abby Texts: Smiley Steve

Me: Smiley Steve says hi. His words.

Abby: Hi Smiley

Me: Great. That went to his head.

Abby: So now he's Conceited Steve?

Me: Kinda interesting. He's happy because the sun is shining. Weird.

Abby: Interesting Steve. Weather Influenced Steve. Sunny Steve.


Me: Steve not smiling anymore. Swearing under breath.

Abby: Ah, cheer up Steven.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Care Package Project: March

Good news on the Care Package Project front this month: No freak snowstorms hindered the purchasing of items! Um, except then I picked up a few extra hours at work to write articles for a special upcoming spring-themed edition of the paper (that's another story for another time). So I ended up getting a later start than I meant to is what I'm saying. Well, nobody expects a Revolution to be easy.

We decided to shower my brother Tim with some extra love this month because he's just gotten over pneumonia and that kind of seems like a big deal. Everyone had ideas about what the package should contain, but when the dust settled, here's what we ended up with:
Figure 1: (Most of) the package contents.
This month's theme: We don't need no stinkin' theme
Tim's packaged contained:
McDonalds gift card (I freaked out the kid behind the counter when I asked for a gift certificate and he had to get a manager and everything to explain to me they only sell gift cards. As if, people. P.S. I voted Papa Murphy's Pizza, but was vetoed by both girls)
Glow Stick (that's like a flashlight, glow stick, whistle and flasher or some dang thing. Weird. Johanna was adamant that Uncle Tim needed this)
5 Peanut Butter Mountain Bars (Tim's favorite. He eats one a day or some such madness)

P.P.S. I'm linking to give you an idea of what these things are, should you not hail from the Pacific Northwest. Do not take this as an endorsement of any kind. I sent what Tim likes, not what I would get myself. :)

Once we got the contents together... well, the interruptions continued in the form of my grandfather having kidney failure (outlook is not good, don't really know what else to say about that) and a trip to The Town of My Birth to visit him in the hospital... so getting the letters and pictures going took an extra few days, too. Ah, well.

Side note: I compile the Yesteryears column for the paper and lo and behold, I found the following picture of Tim at the State basketball tournament in our archives. From March 17-ish, 1994. Obviously that had to go in my column. Because I do what I want.

So I threw in a tear sheet of that, too.
Figure 2: Probably violating copyright laws right now.
Tim will undoubtedly get me in trouble (or more like give me an exasperated, "Trish!") for putting said photo in the paper (he doesn't know about the blog I don't think, dodged that bullet), but you know what? Yolo.*

We had another box to reuse (Eric's been ordering a lot of packages lately) that I just wrapped up in blank newsprint (work perk) before sending out and wallah! In the bag. I was beginning to wonder if we'd ever get this out. Kind of feeling like a rock star for managing.

One more note: While the Care Package Project began as mine and Abby's New Year's Revolution, Johanna and Eric have now both joined the fray. So we're all in revolt.

*Note for my mother: Yolo means "you only live once." Abby says this CONSTANTLY. Well, she's 14. That explains more than you know.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Abby Texts: Sub campaign

The scene: Abby is participating in the newspaper's kids' subscription campaign, even though she can't win any prizes because hello, I'm an employee. Um, I don't think she cares, but a few of our friends have been quite offended that Our Abby is exempt. Hey, she makes $20 per book, which isn't too shabby for a kid.

Not the point. My sister-in-law asked for me to look up when their sub runs out, so I sent the following to Abby.

Me: Bub paper due June 2015.

Abby: Oh OK. I will text Elaine at home.

Me: K

Abby: Dude all I get is a K for a response? What is life?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Knowing "my people"

I follow a few minimalism et al blogs, and a recent post by Kandice at The Simple Year really struck a cord with me. She wrote about relationship decluttering and knowing your people: How minimalism--and life--helps clarify who you want to spend your time with, sometimes because things change (or don't change) and sometimes because you were mistaken about who your people really are.

It was that last part that got me. I have made that mistake a time or two, trusting in a friendship / relationship that wasn't really real. Here's what Kandice wrote about that:
And then there are those who you thought were one of your people until the shit hits the fan and you look around and they have disappeared. And that sucks. Because it stings. You mourn the loss. You might feel duped and embarrassed. But, really, it’s a gift. With a giant red bow.
 It does sting! I do mourn the loss! I totally feel duped and embarrassed! And it IS a gift!

It's a gift because I know who my people are. Some people have always been my people: My parents, my grandparents, my Aunt Ann. Some people have been my people since we became friends as teenagers, like Mara and Shannon. Some people treated me as family the minute I started dating Eric, like my favorite in-laws and my sisters-in-law Debbie and Elaine. There are also a host of others who I count as my people because they are my friends and I enjoy being around them. Sometimes you just need someone to laugh with.

P.S. Eric isn't on that list because he's a list unto himself. He's mine, I'm his, the end. :)

Anyway, here's the thing: I have come to really appreciate my people, to not take these relationships for granted, to understand what an amazing gift it is when the people you love love you back.

You can't win them all. And that's okay. You can't demand that someone be your people--they are or they aren't; it's given freely or not at all. Sometimes you mistakenly believe someone is your people only to learn otherwise. Sucks. But who cares? The people I've been mistaken in--that's a much smaller list than the people I claim as mine. I really like this paragraph of Kandice's:
One of the results of my advanced years is that I no longer have a filter and my patience is limited. And you know what? My people still love me. And while this may sound callous, I’m no longer interested in investing time, energy, resources, whatever, to relationships that are one-sided. Knowing where to invest your very limited resources is a good thing.
It's interesting to me how it's generally looked upon as desirable to downsize and declutter your possessions, but not people. I felt like that at one time too, but now I'm thinking maybe it's healthy. It's not that I no longer care about the people who have discarded me... it's more that, knowing they do not care for me, I'm giving myself permission to turn instead to healthier relationships. It's a total bummer to work and work and work at a relationship that's one-sided. You can work forever and still be at Square One, or you can choose to spend that energy on someone who actually wants to be around you.

So here's to knowing my people. Here's to appreciating my people! Here's to lunch dates and emails and phone calls and care packages and even just exchanging pleasantries at work.

I love you people!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Abby Texts: Arts Award!

Abby: Dude, I won first place in an art competition I didn't know I entered?

Me: Yay you! That's rad.

Abby: Hella rad but i don't know which piece it was.

Abby: Oh crap, there's an arts assembly tomorrow to honor the winners. Oh no.

The next day...

Abby: Dude, so the award for art wasn't actually mine, it was the Abby Walker from %&$# and I'm laughing so hard because I'm getting awarded for it.

Me: That is AWESOME. Great story!


Me: Award ceremony yet?

Abby: Hahaha they didn't call me thank God.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Our Tooth Fairy is AWESOME

I'm not sure how to write this without making Johanna look kind of gross, but anyway, the kid had a loose tooth for months and months and months, and even though it was basically hanging by a thread, she refused to just pull the dang thing and be done with it. She actually faints at the sight of blood, so she will never be in the medical field, I guess. Not the point. The point (-ish) is that she had that tooth in her head so long that eventually little bits of it would break off that she'd show us before tossing into the trash.

Last week, her tooth was all but gone, so we were pleading with her to just rip it out already. Maybe it was our word choices (oh, wait: No, it's the thought of the sight of blood), but she refused. But then she was all, what if my tooth falls out when I'm sleeping and I swallow it?, and we were all, nah, won't happen.

Guess what happened?

One thing motherhood has taught me is that I have a high threshhold when it comes to discussing poop. I'm not sure if you do, though, so let's Reader's Digest this thing and just say that Johanna was fairly certain she had expelled her tooth by the following evening.


Anyway, so the next morning, Eric is all, should I just leave a couple bucks on the toilet for Jo's tooth?, and I was like, that is AWESOME. DO IT. So he did. And left for work.

Johanna comes into the kitchen about five minutes later, holding a couple of bucks. She's totally confused. She's like, I found this money on the toilet but I don't know whose it is. Is it Abby's?, and I was like, ha ha ha! I bet the Tooth Fairy left that for you! And she was all, on the toilet?, and I was like, well, think about where that tooth ended up.

She turned slightly pink as the truth sunk in, shrugged, and put the money in her piggy bank. And I have been giggling about it ever since.

P.S. I am 95-percent certain Johanna knows who the Tooth Fairy is, but she's unwilling to go there. I'm cool with that.

P.P.S. I keep seeing all this Tooth Fairy stuff on Pinterest, like tiny Tooth Fairy letters and money origami-ed into little shapes. People, look, I don't want to be a downer, but do you know how many teeth a kid has in their mouth? Like a billion. And if you do that tiny letter or origami money thing even ONE TIME, it will be tradition and you will be doing it a billion more times. Do you want to be doing Tooth Fairy crafts at midnight one billion times? Just take a step away from the computer, breathe, and think this through, okay?
Yes, it's adorable. But not when you're scrambling
to even just find a dollar in the middle of the night.
You're welcome.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


The other night I was laying on the couch reading, when Abby comes into our living room/dining room/kitchen area (side note: I would never do the great room thing again. Having a separate living room would be lovely) and tosses Eric (who was at the table watching TV) a permission slip for her high school lock-in. So he's reading the fine print and is all like, no more than two energy drinks allowed?, and I'm all, that's no energy drinks for you because that shit will kill you.

And... horrified silence.

People, look, I am not really a swearer in real life. I mean, yes, "shit" is my favorite swear word, but I have children and that kind of has put a damper on my swearing in a general sort of way. Um, in all honesty, though, I do swear in my head all the time. I find it therapeutic.

Anyway, I was all like, I am sooooooo sorry! and Abby was like, you're never sorry when you swear when Dad's not around, and I was all, YOU ARE NOT HELPING.

And then Eric was like, at least you have something to blog about now.

The end.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Saturday "Art," March 1 is practically spring, right?

Oh, those tiny little snowflakes that don't really show up as well as I'd hoped?
Yeah, just ignore that.