Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Paradox of Materialism

It shouldn't come as a surprise to you that you may still encounter various temptations after diving into a minimalist lifestyle. Decluttering and getting rid of things is such a liberating experience, but those uplifting feelings of relief and freedom from your possessions are constantly warred against by the desperate feelings of need and want. Our society, especially during this time of year, bombards us on a minute by minute basis with  all of the things we need to be happy and healthy and successful.  My current problem areas are Walker and Ebay.

Walker is a baby and baby things are cute, so it is a DAILY challenge to say no to things I want to buy him. I obviously don't deprive him of things he needs and he is currently swimming in a pile of toys in the middle of his floor, so we're not having a problem there either. But I do have to constantly remind myself that he might need some new sweats to fit his growing little legs, but he doesn't need all eight pairs of the new sweats on Zara. He might need a toy food basket to go with his play kitchen for Christmas, but he doesn't need a basket for every food group, he's not actually eating the darn things. When I'm 100% honest, 95% of the things I want to buy him are really for myself, which is a humbling observation.

Ebay is so tempting for me. I love to buy used items on Ebay for multiple reasons including discounted prices, support for small businesses, environmental conscientiousness, etc. I think it's a great way to get quality items that will last at more affordable prices, especially when we're talking about clothing. The problem isn't the calculated, thought-out, researched items I buy. The problem is the suggested sales Ebay throws at me multiple times a day based on previous purchases. It is SO tempting when you see things you want at such cheap prices, and the auction-style sales are so enticing in themselves. I needed one pair of shorts, so I found some and bid on them and won them, but now I have suggestions day in and day out for similar items! I still have it in my head that I need them, so my initial reaction is to bid on them, but I have to remember that I need ONE pair of shorts, not two, not ten...and that one pair is already in my dresser.

Just a little transparency today. I still struggle with the desire to consume. It seems that would only be natural as it's been ingrained in my identity for 25 years.  Don't be discouraged if you have days again when stuff seems to define you. Minimalism is a journey. Take some time in those moments to think about who you are. What really defines you? I'm not the mom in our neighborhood defined by the least number of Lululemon yoga pants or the smallest amount of Christmas decorations, I'm the mom defined by my sweet Walker. I'm not the girl defined by wearing the same few outfits to church every Sunday, I'm a child of the King defined by grace and salvation. The craziest thing is you're most likely the only person defining yourself by the lies of materialism. When is the last time you looked at someone and thought WOW that girl doesn't have nearly enough stuff, how pathetic is she? Probably never! The ugly paradox of materialism is that the point is to impress everyone, but the only person who cares about the stuff is you.

Now get out there in this week of family and Thanksgiving and celebration, and value yourself and your family for who you are and the experiences you've shared...without the stuff.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Hand Knitted Mittens

When (if it ever) gets cold this winter, we will need something to keep little man's hands warm. I learned to knit when I was little when it was a super uncool home school thing to do. I got made fun of plenty of times for bringing my latest "grandma" project to class in high school, which in retrospect was pretty nerdy, so whatever, but who's laughing now?! While these handmade bad boys sell for $15-$30 on Etsy, I was able to make my own for under $5. I followed this YouTube tutorial and just lessened the amount of rows to 11 on the ribbing and 14 full rows on the glove body to make them toddler size. I used size 7/4.5mm knitting needles. I didn't mess with a thumb this time because Walker's chubby little thumb will be too hard to get into a glove, but I love how easy it will be to add one next year! If you've never learned the purl stitch, this is a great tutorial that I found. I am so excited to have this skill to use for all our cold weather needs and to pass on to my future daughters, Lord willing. If you don't care to learn how to knit or don't have the time to make these yourself here are some shops on Etsy with a few really cute options:


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Shop Three Fergs

I am super excited to announce the opening of my shop - Shop3Fergs. (Super original title can be attributed to my son's recent teething episodes which equal zero sleep and a lot of caffeine in every form.) I have always loved creating things, and in the midst of three moves in the last three years it's been all about decorating my home(s). I know there are lots of you girls (and maybe some guys) out there who love to decorate but don't necessarily have the time to devote to creating your own decorations, so check out the handmade, one of a kind items for purchase in my shop! Right now I'm obsessed with mid-century and minimalist themes. It's a work in progress, so come back often to see what's new, and follow me on Instagram for updates!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Preparing for Christmas

Major retailers are doing it already, so why can't I?

Christmas has always been a BIG deal to my family. At least four of the seven of us (one being myself) have gift-giving as a love language, so that giving nature really amps up around December. This will be our first Christmas since fully embracing the idea of minimalism, so I have been putting a lot of thought into how we can maintain this lifestyle through the holidays. Because of the atrocity our society has made this blessed holiday into, it's tempting to just boycott everything, "Christmas with the Kranks" style, and take a vacation away from the madness. Unfortunately, avoiding the problem will just push it out to next December and the next, so it's probably better to face it and come up with some solutions. The great thing about this journey is that progress is progress. We are going to try a few new things this year, and see how it goes!

  1. Draw Names: This is something Tom's family does already, and it's a great way to simplify gift-giving. It's really straight forward, you draw names for each person to see who gets who a gift. You set a reasonable budget for each gift, and then open all the gifts at your Christmas get-together. It minimizes the number of gifts each person receives to one gift, and it minimizes the number of overall gifts you are expected to purchase, meaning you can spend more money on each gift to get something that person will really use and enjoy. We are trying it on my side of the family for the first time, so I'm really excited for the outcome! 
  2. Purchase Gifts Together: Tom and I usually decide what gifts to get each other together. We've found that when we try to give hints and do surprises, we typically end up with a huge pile of really nice and thoughtful things that we could really live without (and sometimes a small pile of things we don't really want to begin with). So instead, we set aside a budget and take a shopping date together to spend time with each other and pick out our gifts. This ensures that we give each exactly what we want so that we don't end up with a box of items we keep for an obligatory amount of time and then throw in the yard sale. 
  3. Give Intangible or "Experience" Gifts: I am trying this out for the first time this year. For my gift from Tom I actually chose to get my hair done. I am really excited about the new look! It's a gift I will use and appreciate that won't clutter my house. It involves some me time and pampering, and it's something I will appreciate for months or longer. I haven't actually gotten around to Christmas shopping yet, but when I do I am hoping to find more "experience gifts" to give. Examples that come to mind are concert tickets, event passes, day passes to a theme park, etc. 
  4. Four Gifts: This is technically Walker's second Christmas, but he was only ten days old last year soooo we didn't get him anything (gasp!). Well...I labored him out of my body...does that count as an "experience gift" haha? Since this will be our first gift-giving Christmas, we are really hoping to set the standard for future years. We have decided as a family to give four gifts to Walker and our future children: something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read. It's a great guideline to reign in my desire to spoil Walker rotten, and with only four gifts to buy it has really helped me to focus on making each one the very best! 
  5. Make Suggestions: This tip is best used defensively rather than offensively. Making suggestions for a gift to the wrong person or in the wrong way can come across as suuuuuper tacky. But, if you can manage to pull it off appropriately it can actually help in your quest to simplify by again ensuring that you will receive a gift you need, use and love. For example, my Nana has been asking me what to get Walker for Christmas. I normally would say "Oh, we would appreciate anything, whatever you think!" which is true; however, I took the opportunity this time to tell her exactly what items we are wanting for his new play room and asked if she would like to choose some of those for his gifts. It was perfect, because she can confidently choose something she knows we will want and use, and we will get the items we want for his playroom instead of toys in addition to them. Now, my Nana and I are very close and beyond social courtesies, so this was an appropriate and well-received response to her question. Don't write a Christmas list next to your name on the Secret Santa drawing at work. I think a good rule of thumb for this one is just to answer honestly if people ask you what you'd like or what your kids want/need. 
I'll check back in after Christmas with an update on how these ideas played out in real life. My hope in maintaining a minimalist lifestyle during the holidays is to cut out the clutter and make room for family and the celebration of our Savior. Leave a comment if you or your family has a good way to simplify the holiday season!