27.6.17

Kenzie update

I realized Its been a long time since I've done a little update on Mckenzie! She'll be three in 5.5 weeks and I am amazed at the difference that comes almost every month at this age! It's like she's a newborn again learning new skills and tricks every few days. 

Her language has improved a ton and she is speaking in full sentences. Sometimes she is a little slow at completing a thought and you can tell she is searching for the right word in her head. If you give her the chance, she'll complete her sentence using the right words and phrases 70% of the time. She is starting to voice her emotions like "she made me sad" or "I'm having a hard day" or "are you mad at me mom?" Don't worry- that last one had me rethinking all my motherhood behaviors! I can call her on the phone and we talk about her day or I can calm her down if she's upset. She still very much likes to talk through things and that's the fastest way to get out of a tantrum is talk out of it. Either by explaining or putting words to her emotions. 

She loves apples and would eat 3 a day if I let her. And sometimes she does because I'm not in the mood for a battle. She is still a great eater and will try and eat most things. She doesn't really like potatoes but that's the only food I've seen her consistently not like. She still loves oatmeal and cereal and would eat hummus with a spoon. 

She's still napping 2 hours a day and goes down great at night. She's still in her crib and has never once tried to crawl out or fight it. I'm scared of the big girl bed but will start to think about it more after her third birthday. She still loves her puppy and tried to take up the binki again, but after a disastrous weekend when she couldn't have it I told her no more and she's now back to sucking her thumb. 

She can totally get herself undressed and dressed and loves to do it herself. She can also brush her teeth and brush her hair. She's basically an adult. She's wearing her summer clothes from last year and she's getting taller but not much bigger. Still in the 2T range. 

The hardest thing for me right now is her behavior toward Cooper. It's like 50% nice and 50% mean and I don't know how to teach her how to be kind to him. It's a struggle and I'm hoping I can help her somehow. 

My favorite things about her right now:
She's awesome at climbing and using her body. Can go up those kid rock walls and ladders, etc. 
She sticks with things and tries until she can figure it out. And then she practices until she has it mastered 
She's turning really social and loves playing with other kids. Calls everyone her friend
Still goofy and likes to play/goof around. Says "I'm just teasing", "stop talking mom", "you're a good parent"

20.6.17

Divine Simplicity

I do believe my journey into minimalism and living a simple life had some divine intervention. I was beginning to feel restless and dissatisfied in my life. I saw "everyone else" with their bigger homes and more stuff and I started wanting that. And questioning why I didn't get it. I was convinced that to have a productive day  I had to get out of the house and run an errand, or visit the library, or do something structured. I was feeling discontent and I was being ungrateful. 

After learning all I could about this thing called "minimalism" and living simply my life changed for the better. It didn't look too different. I still went grocery shopping-I just stuck to my list and didn't pick up some random summer toys or holiday decor. We still go to the library and to the park- but only on days Kenzie actually wants to go. Not just because "we need to get out of the house because sitting at home isn't good for you." We have more tea parties and watch movies together. She explores and seems less stressed when our agenda isn't overflowing. 

"Whatever God you believe in, He would want you to live a more simple life"

When I heard that quote from a podcast several weeks ago I immediately agreed. Living a more simple life has made me slow down and focus more on my belief in Christ and to be more thankful to God for all the blessings he has given me. It has helped me not be so focused on what others have, but how I can help those around me. It has helped put my priorities back where they should be. 

I don't think stuff is bad. I don't think buying things takes you further away from God. But for me personally, not buying things and having less stuff to worry about has brought me closer to Him. 


14.6.17

Home For Sale

I can't believe I'm typing out these words, but we're moving! Our home is going up for sale this weekend. It started with a "should we sell our house" 10 days ago and here we are. We have lived in our little town home for almost 4 years and we've really loved every minute. When we bought it as a young couple with no kids we felt like we had all the space in the world. And here we are two kids later and we still love this place.

This is where I brought two new babies home from the hospital. This is where my baby girl took her first steps and said her first words. This is where she learned to walk and run and play outside. She's biffed it on every sidewalk around the neighborhood. She knows where all the parks and swings are. This is her home. She can find her way back after we go on a walk and she knows this place like the back of her hand. This area is where we have trained for half marathons and have gone on countless evening walks. This is where we have built our life.

It's crazy how much can happen in 4 years! So much has changed. We have friends here and Kenzie has friends here. We really love it. But we've been told it's time to go on to our next adventure. We weren't planning it. We weren't hoping for it. We thought we'd be here for a few more years at least! But sometimes changes happen overnight. So here I am, typing away when I should be deep cleaning and getting ready for the photographer and open house. We've filled up a handful of boxes so our house looks less like "a family lives here" and more like "YOU could live here". Our walls are empty and our hearts are full.

I'm scared and nervous and excited and anxious and ready and not ready. We plan on living in the same general area so I'm hoping we can still keep the friends and little tot playmates we have made here and I look forward to meeting new people too. I've grown and changed a lot these last 4 years, now it's time to take that new Megan somewhere else and see what happens.

Wish us luck!

8.6.17

Hi baby: bedtime snuggles

Hi my sweet baby boy,

Tonight as I was putting you down for bed you passed out in my arms. I held you and sang a song and you were asleep before the end of the first verse. I don't think that has ever happened. I sat there and snuggled you in my arms for 30 minutes before finally laying you down. It was a dreamy way to end the day. I love you so much. I've said this since the day you were born- you bring peace into my life. You're such a cuddle bug and I'm loving it. Your smile and eyebrow-grin is still going strong all day everyday. You're starting to get up on your hands and knees and I think you'll be crawling in a matter of weeks. You're obsessed with real food and you have drastically cut out the milk you want. You're ready for the good stuff!

As I was holding you tonight staring at your perfect button nose and juicy lips I tried to imagine the boy and man you will grow up to be. Will you be a sweet and mellow dude? Or a crazy kid bouncing off the walls? Will you be kind and happy? Or an angsty teen? Will you have addictions or a mental illness? Will you grow up and live a long and healthy live, or does Heavenly Father have a different plan for you? Will you always be my sweet baby boy? Or will you demand independence and space and call me once a week? Will you be responsible and respectful and hard working? Or will you struggle to find your space in this world? There are so many people that go so many different directions. I can't help but wonder what paths you will choose. What mistakes you make. What decisions will guide your life? I can't imagine the little boy or toddler or teen that you'll grow into (well I can, in my mind you'll be that smiley kid that everyone likes and maybe a little trouble...but we'll see if I'm right). But there is one thing I know about the future. I will always love you and you will always be my sweet baby boy. 

Xoxo
Mom 

6.6.17

The Truth About Living SMALL

So excited to be part of this community and contribute my thoughts to their monthly topic! I hope you enjoy and connect with me over on IG @minimalistmeg

We are a family of 4 (kids 3yo and 7 mo) living in 1,200 sqft. Some people live in much smaller spaces. Some live in much bigger. Bart and I moved in before we had kids. We thought it was huge! After living in apartments in college, a two level town home felt like a castle. Our home comes with two "master bedrooms" so they're both big, have 2 closets and their own bathroom. Our spare room was totally empty until our first child was born. Babies bring a lot of stuff with them. Now our second baby is 6 months old and we are adjusting to our space that now feels less roomy. Before I stumbled upon minimalism I was getting antsy and unsatisfied. But that's a post all on it's own. Now that I have rearranged my priorities and point of view, I am very happy in our home. We have a kitchen, living room, 2 bedrooms. 2.5 baths and a 1 car garage. Here are my thoughts on "the truth about living in a SMALL home" 




SIMPLE- We live in a small space. And we live a pretty simple life. We go to work. We go to the park. We eat dinner together and kiss our babies goodnight. I don't spend my weekends cleaning my home or shopping for more stuff. We don't schedule out every second of our day- and some weeks are less "simple" than others. Our life in a small home probably doesn't look much different from yours. It's simple. 


MANAGEABLE- Not only is living in a small space manageable, it's enjoyable. We make it work. When my second child was born he spent a lot of time napping in my bedroom walk-in closet because it was the darkest, quietest spot in the house. He still takes his afternoon nap in there while my daughter naps in their room. Bart calls him Harry Potter sometimes. But hey- he doesn't seem to mind. We have toys on both levels. We have one couch and 4 kitchen chairs. It's enough. It also makes cleaning SO manageable. Our entire house can be a complete disaster with stuff everywhere and it takes maybe 15 minutes TOTAL to pick everything up and put it away. It takes maybe an hour to scrub/vaccum/deep clean the entire place. 


ABUNDANT- We are very blessed. We have more than 99% of the people in this world. My small home doesn't equal hardship or scarcity of resources. Could we afford a bigger home? Yes. But we find joy and value in the home we are in. We have an abundance of laughs, good food and happy memories in our small home. We sleep on comfy beds, watch TV and movies, go on vacations. The size of your home doesn't equal the size of your happiness. A small home doesn't mean you're living a small life.  

LESS STUFF- With less space automatically comes less stuff. We have a one car garage that actually houses a car- so we have some shelves to one side and that's it. We don't have a lot of holiday decorations. We don't have dozens of bikes and scooters and countless bins of stuff. We don't have a spare bedroom with everything a house guest might need. (a blow up mattress + a few extra towels is what we can offer!) Don't ask me how I was able to find a few thousand items in my 5-day purge back in March! Our closets, cupboards and drawers are a lot less full. But I do still have to be intentional with our organizing and make the most of the space we have been given. We have stuff. We just have less stuff than others. 


LOTS OF LOVE- A loving family can exist in any size home. Big or small- it's the relationships and people inside those 4 walls that matter. We are happy, thriving and content. One day we will live somewhere else. But today is not that day. So we spend our days in close quarters and right on top of each other. We try to fill the "empty" spaces with lots of love. 

I know some people wonder how we live in such a small space, but to be honest- I wonder the same thing about them and their big house! So what's the truth about living in a small family home? Well...the truth is- it's probably just like living in a large family home with 2 little kids. Messy, loud, sometimes stressful, most of the time wonderful 

This post was written for inclusion in the June collection of the Small Family Homes Blog Community. Read below for more writings on the truth about living small from our community of writers. Check back next month for a new topic and posts in the series and follow our community board on Pinterest for the latest small homes and family minimalism pins!

Minimalist Meg -- “The Truth About Living SMALL” : What does living in a small space look like for a family of 4? Probably not a whole lot different from you.

Little Bungalow-- "Less Space, More Happiness" : In a small home, less space doesn’t equal more happiness. Except, of course, when it does.

600 Square Feet and a Baby-- "The Truth About Living in a Small Family Home" : Living small as a family of four is sometimes uncomfortable, a bit awkward and never boring. Sharing the awkward and imperfect of living small with 4 humans that you always wanted to know (or maybe you didn't.)

Shelley Vanderbyl-- "Five Things You Don't Need in a Small Home" : Gatekeeping is about recognizing what things you don't need or want, and trying to keep those objects from coming into your home.
The Streamlined Life-- "The Truth About Living Small: Less Possessions, Greater Value": Just because you're a minimalist family doesn't mean you aren't sentimental.
The Justice Pirate-- "What Small Home Living is Like" : No matter if I lived in a cardboard box or a small home, I just like being with my family, who are my home.

Our Nest in the City-- "The Truth About Living in a Small Family Home" : My post gives three challenges to living in a small home with our family of five, and counters them with three ways we "cope" and thrive despite it all :)
Fourth and West-- "You Can't Have it All" : Small space living requires compromise and sacrifice.

RISING*SHINING-- "The Truth About Living in a Small(ish) Family Home" : A smaller home is why we're able to live such a full life.


Family At Sea-- "The Meaning of Space: Thoughts from a Former Tiny Home Mom" : After moving onto a boat, I thought the hard work of decluttering and downsizing was done, but I didn't realize that living in a tiny space was the beginning of the real work of the soul.

Real Food Simple Life-- "The Realities of Living in a Small Home with a Big Family" : A look into the benefits and challenges that a family of 6 (going on 7) experiences living together in an 800 square foot home in Scotland.

Tiny Ass Camper-- "I Didn't Know Tiny Living Was For Me" : My thoughts on the give and take of living tiny.

Family Pedals-- "Location Trumps Size" : The truth is, it has been our home's location--not size--that has determined our happiness in a given space

5.6.17

3 Weeks of Whole30

Now I know what you're thinking "Um, Megan....whole30 is something you do for 30 days...hence the name?" and you're correct. Except we only did it for 3 weeks so let's call is Whole21 for this post shall we?

4 weeks ago Bart started up the conversation about how he was feeling exhausted all the time, was emotionally eating (he was at the peak of the business between end of school, start of summer football and start of a new semester for his masters) and just overall not feeling super awesome about himself. So of course I immediately took advantage of his vulnerability and said we should do Whole30! It's not a secret that I have stuck to an anti-inflammatory diet for the last 4 years, but Whole30 is even different and "more strict" than that! So after some discussing and "but can I just have ranch and one cheat meal? (no and no)" he finally agreed to do it with me. This is the FIRST TIME EVER Bart has agreed to do something like this with me that actually had real rules with no exceptions and a required length of time. I was totally pumped because I see so much value in real food and it's connection with health that I knew this would be awesome for him. I was also looking forward to having some motivation for myself too.

So I make a menu, stock up on food and we get this party started. I think Bart asked "how do we feel about Ranch?" multiple times that first week- but he stuck to it! I have to say it was totally easy for me to do this kind of restrictive eating when he was along for the ride. We both had the same things for dinner. I didn't have to worry about adding anything to his plate. He complained about the situation, but not about me and my cooking :) I finally had my person on board with the boring and depressing way I had to eat- haha!

We got the hang of it and got sick of eating eggs for breakfast. Our new favorite snack was a heated up apple sausage with mustard on it. mmmm. Bart ate more vegetables than he had in the last year combined. I was more motivated and did much better too. I usually can have corn and rice, but Whole30 says nay, so we didn't. That was an adjustment for both of us, but I realized I am totally good without it! Bart really missed rice and tortillas, but seemed to be fine without bread. He also really missed his milk. I can usually eat dairy, but Whole30 says nope to that too, and again, I didn't miss cheese or yogurt that much at all! Sure, those things are convenient and make for a quick healthy snack, but not having them wasn't a big issue for me. Bart did fine without them too (although we both agreed cheese makes EVERYTHING taste better).

The hardest thing for both of us was our craving for sweets. A sweet at the end of a long day or on a Sunday night when the kids are in bed- let's just say we tried to fill that void with a smoothie or a bowl of fruit but it didn't quite hit the spot. I am so proud of Bart for staying away from Pepsi! Even though our Whole21 has ended (more on that later) he still hasn't had any soda. Proud wife moment.

Bart lost about 7 pounds almost instantly and I've lost 5 this past month. We weren't too motivated to exercise religiously so I say that's a pretty nice side effect! Bart didn't say "I'm tired" ONCE  that first week and didn't need a Saturday nap (which was pretty awesome). I could tell he was seeing a change, even if he wasn't super vocal about it, because he really didn't complain or ask if we could be done. (okay, so he only did that a handful of times.)

To be honest, we stopped at 21 days because we were both just over it! Bored of the food, and straight up sick of all the time it took to cook/prep. We also felt like we had gained some really good habits and broke a lot of our bad ones (there's something about that 21 day mark!) We also had a discussion before we officially stopped and decided what we wanted to add back in. So we are saying yes to rice (even though I'll probably not include that just because I've been fine without it) and milk for him (but not the rest of the dairy products) and then a sweet treat on the weekends. Whole30 has SO MUCH PREP WORK in the kitchen. Like soooo many dishes and time spent prepping and cooking and cleaning. It can feel a bit much sometimes. But I tried to embrace it and find recipes that were realistic for us to cook and enjoy without taking hours to make. I should note that Kenzie ate mostly what we did, but did have yogurt and sandwiches for lunches here and there.

As much as I hated spending all that time in the kitchen, I was reminded of how warped our perception of eating has become. Our grandparents or great-grandparents spent all day in the kitchen cooking for the next meal. Real food means real cooking. And I'm trying to embrace that. We don't eat prepackaged/premade dinners anyway, but something about these specific food restrictions made it feel like we spent a lot more time prepping and cooking.

When we officially ended the first thing I ate was a bowl of plain cheerios with almond milk. It was so good- and then I INSTANTLY got a headache. -cue the eye roll emoji here- Despite it being gluten free, and only having 2 grams of sugar per serving, my body wasn't super happy about it. My autoimmune disease will always have a big impact on how my body reacts to things and at this point I've just gotten used to it!

So here is a sample menu from one of the weeks:

Breakfast:
Banana pancakes
Fried egg "sandwich" (fried egg on top and bottom with a piece of turkey in the middle)
Sweet potato hash
Scrambled eggs + fruit
Egg muffins
Sausage + veggie hash
Omlets

Lunch:
Leftovers!
Salsa chicken lettuce wraps
Turkey wraps (turkey, lettuce, bacon, avocado)
Salad

Dinner:
Fried cauliflower rice
Chicken poppers
Taco soup
Spaghetti squash + marinara sauce
Salmon + veggies
Pot roast + veggies
Veggie soup
Grilled chicken strip salad

Snacks:
Veggies + hummus
Apple + peanut butter
Fruit
Mixed nuts
Leftovers
Turkey slices


So as you can see, there's nothing fancy about this menu! It's just whole, real food. We didn't make any "whole30 ranch" or our own mayo. We just stuck with what was naturally whole food.

One of my favorite things about doing a restrictive diet like this for a set amount of weeks, is that it helps reset your eating habits. It teaches you what "hungry" feels like, and it helps your mind get over the thought that you really NEED that the-kids-survived-another-day-and-you-deserve-a-treat moment that comes every other night. I don't think it's realistic to do this long term, but I would recommend it to anyone who feels like their eating habits are out of control. Because learning to control your eating and diet is such an empowering feeling! Not to mention your body loves you for it too :)

31.5.17

Little people big feelings

As I crawl into bed after a LONG day with the kids I can't help but think of their little perspective. 

Cooper is cutting another tooth. His second in as many weeks. I can't imagine how bad that must hurt to be growing a bone up into your mouth. Ouch! I remember when Kenzie was teething I wondered WHY? Why do babies have to go through that pain? I don't have an answer. But thinking about it that way- how painful it must be- has helped me be more patient with the teething process. If I was in constant pain I would want to be held ALL DAY too. I would be irritable and grouchy and I for sure wouldn't want my 2 year old sister all up in my grill (no pun intended ;) 

And then there is my big small old baby girl who will be 3 in two months (cue all the crying emojis). She woke up crying and didn't really stop today. And all I could think of as I was driving her to the babysitter's this morning as she screamed and cried the full 15 minutes was how hard it must be for her to have those big huge emotions and not understand what they are or how to deal. I freaking don't know how to deal and I'm 27 years old. So I just let her cry. I didn't get impatient and tell her to stop. I tried talking her off the ledge (because she does like that kind of communication) but she wasn't having it today. She just needed to let it all out. I get it. Sometimes my pillow ends up soaking wet too. 
And then after a dramatic and traumatic experience at the pool where I had her wear a puddle jumper (cue another 20 minutes screaming crying fit) we went home and proceeded to do nothing but watch movies naked (well SHE got to be naked) because I get it. Sometimes all I want to do is curl up on the couch and eat some of my feelings and not wear pants. 
And as I was tucking her in bed tonight she gladly snuggled her puppy and went right to sleep. Because sometimes we just need to sleep off our bad days. 

My little kids are humans too. Perfect imperfect humans that have real big powerful feelings. And I'm just glad I could see it that way today. And I'm glad for bedtime because....these days are exhausting for mom too :) 

Questions to ask yourself as you minimize your stuff

I thought it might be nice to write down a few things I say to myself as I'm going through a cupboard, drawer or closet and letting things go. As you gain momentum and a habit for letting go of things that no longer add value, the process becomes a little easier.

First, where to start? If there is a space that stresses me out every time I look at it/open it- I know there is work to be done. First you need to take everything out. As you're removing do the initial purge of things that are clearly good to toss. Expired food or stained clothes. A random piece to a toy you no longer own, etc. it may or may not be garbage, but these things are pretty obvious and easy to get rid of. Next when you have that pile go through it again without putting anything back yet. Ask yourself these questions as you go "when was the last time I used this?" "When was the last time I even thought about this?" "Have my children outgrown it and is it worth storing?" "Why am I keeping this?" "Would I buy this again right now?" "Is it useful?" "Do I really need _(insert number here)_ of these? "Does this go somewhere else?" Etc

At this point if there is a lot of stuff you can start making piles. Make a mess before making everything clean and organized. Make the following piles:

• for sure to keep
• goes somewhere else in the house
• donate
• garbage
• can't decide

I usually give myself just a few seconds with each item. What is your gut telling you? If you go to toss something don't second guess yourself or put it in the "can't decide" pile. Just get rid of it. I have come to trust my subconscious and instinct and it makes the process go by much quicker. I NEVER go back through my get rid of pile. If you give yourself long enough you can talk yourself into keeping almost anything.

It's time to put things back. The goal is to organize as you go. Do you have an extra plastic tote lying around that would work well here? Go get it. Need to refold all those towels to fit better? Now is the time to do that. If you find yourself over-stuffing the space- get brutally honest and either find a new home for things or get rid of them. Remember, fear or greed are the two things keeping us from letting go. Be honest and give yourself permission to lighten your load. You will NEVER regret it.

At this point your space should feel light and stress free. You should be able to open and close the door without having to adjust everything. Everything should have a place. Remember our family's needs change and so can your storage places. If you're kids are growing up you can switch things from down low to a little higher now that they can reach, etc.

Address the other piles. Go put things away in their actual home. Don't just shove them somewhere for now. Put the garbage in the dumpster and your donate stuff in the trunk! You shouldn't put your donate pile/bag/box in a place you can see. Get it out of your line of sight and out of mind until you can drop it off.

This whole process can take 2 minutes if you're re-addressing a small kitchen cabinet or 2 hours if you're going through your closet. Even after purging my home I find myself adjusting and making changes whenever I feel the "flow" is off somehow. Again, if you feel any kind of stress or discontent  when you open a drawer/door/cabinet it's time to make a change.

Hopefully this process will help you! What space comes to your mind as you read this? Let me know how it goes as you simplify and minimize :)

Xo

14.5.17

Hi baby: Mother's Day

To my sweet babies,

It's mother's day and I feel so thankful for you. Without you, I wouldn't be a mother. And being a mother has become my greatest joy. You two fill me with such heavenly love and happiness. Your dad and I are amazed by you every night as we climb into bed. We talk about you both, wonder at you. Mckenzie, you are the best person in the whole world. We love watching you grow up and learn and talk. You make us laugh and shake our heads and we are so proud of you. You're a beautiful little girl who is so kind and thoughtful and loving. You're spicy and feisty and full of life. Cooper! You make my world go 'round. You bring a feeling of peace to whoever is around you. You have a charming smile and when you raise those eyebrows- hearts melt. You are growing so fast and my mommy heart can't take it! You make me so happy. 

So while people tell me "happy mother's day" today, I want to tell YOU, thank you for being mine. Thank you for forgiving me and loving me. Thank you for being patient as I learn how to teach, love and raise you. 

I love you with every bone in my body
xoxo

Mom



12.5.17

3 Misconceptions About Minimalism

I loved sharing some info about minimalism on Good Things Utah last week. It's been such a life changing thing for me, I could talk about it all day. But for now, we settled for a 4.5  minute segment ;)

You can watch the full segment HERE

and here is the text I shared for the web story. We didn't really touch on this during the actual segment, but hopefully you can find some value in the words.

Our executive producer Megan Bowen shares her recent obsession- minimalism. After watching The Minimalists' documentary "Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things" she was inspired to go through her home and get rid of stuff she no longer needed and the things that didn't add value to her, or her family's life. She changed her mindset of how she looks at items and asked, "does this add value or serve a purpose?" and if not, it was donated. She purged more than 1,000 items over a 5 day span and in the past 6 weeks has gotten rid of more than 2,000 items from her home. 
She shares 3 misconceptions about minimalism and 3 tips on how to get started. All of her advice is adapted from what she has learned and applied from The Minimalists and other resources online. She recommends finding more advice/tips/info on The Minimalists' website www.TheMinimalists.com

3 Misconceptions
  1. Minimalists never buy anything

    You can buy things. You just have a different motivation behind buying things. Instead of "because everyone else has one" or "I think I need to fill that empty space" it's more "is this necessary?" or "why do I really want this?". While I personally haven't bought anything outside of groceries for about 6 weeks, it's just because I haven't needed anything. My mindset about need vs want has changed.

  2. Minimalist have no home décor

    Did I get rid of some of my home decor? Yes. Because I realized I had it up because "that's how your house is supposed to look" and not because I loved it. My home is still decorated. But only with things that I love and that were put up with intention. I love having photos around my home, so those stayed up on my walls. Decorate your home however you want. But be intentional with your decorations.

  3. Minimalists go without

    I have felt zero deprivation in the two months since changing my habits and mindset. I buy groceries when the fridge is empty. I put gas in my car when the red light goes on. I spend more on stuff so I can spend it on experiences, security and to help others. I say "no" to a lot of things so I can say "yes" to the important things.


3 Tips to getting started
 
  1. Watch the documentary “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things” 

    As you watch, remember minimalism looks different on everyone. You don't have to live in a tiny house or have all white walls. Focus more on their message about over consumption and less on the "look" of minimalism.

  2. Pick a cupboard or closet to tackle first

    I suggest your bathroom cupboards. Take EVERYTHING out. Touch everything. Is it expired? Are you really going to use that 4th bottle of travel size mouth wash? Think about the rule "Have I used it in the last 90 days or will I honestly use it in the next 90 days?" If not, toss it. Set boundaries for your makeup/hair/beauty/health items. Organize them into their own space and when that space is full, evaluate and see if there is anything you can get rid of (one thing in, one thing out rule). 

  3. Play the Minsgame (day 1 get rid of 1 item….etc to day 30 get rid of 30 items)

    The Minimalists created a fun way to get started and try it out without going totally crazy. It's called The Minsgame. Find a friend, family member or group of people. Every day post a photo of what you're letting go of. First day is 1 item. Second day is 2 items, and so on. Day 23 it's 23 items, etc until day 30. It's a great way to ease yourself into it, and by the end you have let go of 500 items! (my preferred style was purge for 5 days straight, but not everyone likes that idea) use #minsgame to see other people play and connect with that community.

Follow along @minimalistmeg on Instagram for more intentional living and minimalist posts. Connect with The Minimalists on social media for their "expert" advice.

5.5.17

Cooper 6 Months

Umm...when did this happen?? Cooper baby boy is 6 months old and I may or may not have cried about it. It's so funny how with Mckenzie I couldn't wait until the next milestone. I was always thinking "when will she do ___". It was fun and exciting to watch her master a new skill! And now with Cooper...it's like I haven't been able to stalk him as much so he learns something new and I don't want to believe it. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be a really hot mess when his birthday rolls around.


We just had his well check and he's weighing 17lbs 12oz. He's in the 50% for weight and 30% for height (even though I think the nurse didn't totally measure him accurately). So even though he was born 97% in weight, he has evened out to be an averaged sized baby. He's so strong and is sitting up like a champ and rolls from back to front. He shows no interest in rolling the other way so he's not mobile at this point. He smiles allllll day. His pediatrician said he's the happiest baby he's ever seen! Will totally just look you in the eyes and smile. He loves physical touch and I love cuddling with him. He's a great sleeper and is down to 2 naps a day. He is obsessed with food. If anyone is eating his whole body wiggles until he gets something in his mouth. He's basically eaten everything. I prefer Baby Led Weaning so he's been enjoying the food we do. I've been making these banana oatmeal muffins and both the kids eat the whole batch within a day.



Cooper loves Mckenzie and gets so excited when she is willing to play with him nicely. She will now read him books or have a tea party with him and he is in heaven. She can still be rough sometimes, but the bigger he gets, the better he can handle himself. Toys entertain him more than they ever did with Kenzie and I can put him in the pack-n-play with a pile of toys and he's set for up to a half hour playing. He loves his binki during the day, but is using his thumb still for naps and nighttime.



I always want to remember his big gummy grin and how much peace he brings into my life.

Also- look at this picture with both babies at 6 months! All the heart eyes for these two



16.4.17

Intentional Easter

Today my kids won't be waking up to Easter baskets filling to the brim. There are no decorations or bowls of candy. 

And it has nothing to do with me being anti-consumerism (because I'm not) or anti-celebrate Easter (because I'm not). It's 95% because I have been so busy that I really just didn't take the time to plan this holiday out. 

The last 6 weeks I've been really trying to live a more intentional life. Getting rid of things that don't add value, and being more aware of how I spend my time and money. Easter was going to be the first holiday and I was so excited to see how I would want to celebrate it now! Instead of just doing all the things because "that's what you do for Easter" I wanted to be deliberate and intentional with our celebration. I wanted to figure out what Easter meant for our family and what traditions we wanted to start or continue or get rid of. I talked to Bart about it about a month ago asking "what we should do/get the kids/etc" and he said a nice Easter outfit for everyone and that should be fine. And I liked the idea of getting something "useful" until I really thought about it and realized since none of us NEED any new church clothes, a new outfit actually wouldn't be super useful. It would get used- but we would be totally fine without it too. So I guess that kind of gives you an example of my thought process for this holiday. And I realize you can talk yourself out of buying ANYTHING and that's not my point either. Maybe next year we will get a new outfit because it will be 12 months since I became a crazy person who doesn't buy things & a new outfit WILL be useful. We'll see ;) 

So it turns out being intentional takes a lot more work, time and energy (insert laughing emoji here) because instead of being intentional and have an amazing and special Easter celebration- we aren't doing anything as a little family unit. The Easter Bunny skipped my house this year. Don't worry- Kenzie still enjoyed 3 different egg hunts Fri/Sat and ate so many candies and cookies that by the end of the day she was just throwing candy everywhere instead of eating it. She had a basket and dyed eggs with my mom & I think really enjoyed the holiday weekend. But here we are Sunday morning and as they sleep I can't help but wonder if I did something wrong. I know I didn't- but man, that expectation of how holidays are "supposed" to look is big and bright and hard to ignore! 

As I was grocery shopping last night I could have grabbed everything last minute and filled a cheap basket with cheap grass and candy and toys she wouldn't really want or need or remember in 2.5 minutes. But I didn't. Not because I'm against all that- but because I wanted to buy all of that intentionally and not just last minute because I felt I had to. 

So a few lessons I've learned 

1. The world still turns when you don't celebrate a holiday in the "traditional way". My kids are still babies so Mckenzie will have absolutely no idea that something "should have" been on the table this morning. We're going to have a great day spent with family and food and there really won't be anything missing. 

2. Being intentional with celebrating a holiday is actually a lot of work. And I wonder if that's why many people don't do it. It's so much easier to just do-what-we-always-do or follow that pattern that has been set out for us. (Again, not saying that pattern is wrong! But I think we can all agree there IS a pattern). So don't mind me as I'm over here planning Christmas in April so I don't eff that one up too ;) 

3. There's a surprising feeling of #parentfail that I wasn't expecting. I didn't stress last night after I left the grocery store empty handed. But when the kids were in bed and the house was quiet I thought "this is when the Easter Bunny would come" and it was a moment of ME as the MOM feeling like I am missing out on something. 

4. There has been a really nice feeling about not spending any money or having more things in our home. That is definitely the #1 perk to totally dropping the ball! I'm definitely not stressed, don't have buyers remorse or see more crap I have to clean up. 

So while this holiday didn't go exactly as I thought it would. I have learned a few things and actually feel really happy with how it all turned out. It was good for me to miss out on the Easter Bunny this year to realize how much you can still enjoy and celebrate Easter without him. Today I will spend Easter with my babies and husband and family and think of Christ & the sacrifice he made for me and them. I will eat some chocolate & take pictures and maybe all of that is intentional enough. 

Happy Easter! 

22.3.17

4AM and 4 Months Old

Oh hi there 4am. It's been a while, but the last 2 weeks or so you have been showing your stupid face again. Sometimes, like today, it's because my 2.5yo wakes up whining which then wakes up my 4mo and I have to rush in there to quiet all the chaos. As much as I love our house- there is a downside to having the kids share a room! When normally I would just let either kid fuss for a bit (and they quiet down after just a minute or two) I now have to quiet them myself in fear of waking up the other. #firstworldproblems and all that. 

I also want to know if anyone has dealt with this: Kenzie is now insisting on a binki like Cooper. She hasn't taken a pacifier since she was 4 months old but because baby brother has one- she needs one. So today she woke up at 4 saying she needed a binki and it "would help me a ton". Which is adorable at 4pm- not 4am. I told her no, she'll be ok. But man- the day I can get rid of Cooper's binkis all together is going to be a great day. I actually think I could probably do it now because he sucks his thumb. The only time I give him a binki is to get through that last like 40 minutes before his night bottle. So maybe I'll have to experiment a day without one and see how it goes...

Cooper is 4 months and a few weeks old but since I never posted an update ill just consider it a little late. 

He is ALL smiles. Just a big fat grin almost the majority of the time he is awake. It's the best! I just have to make eye contact with him and he gets a huge grin and so wiggly. 

He is rolling now- from back to tummy to back. He's a big dude and so he's different to watch than Mckenzie at this age! He's grabbing his feet and moving his body so much! It's adorable 

He's 15.4lbs and 25in so he hasn't maintained his 90th percentile from birth (mr 10.2lbs) but he's still in the high 60's. It's fun to have a big baby! He's so strong and he can't wait until he can sit up on his own. 

He's our little dream boat baby and he makes me so happy! I really love being a mom of 2! It's been the best thing ever and seriously brings me so much joy and satisfaction. 

11.3.17

My First 5 Days of Minimalism

March 6 Day 1 

After watching Minimalism last night I am looking at my house completely differently. I couldn't wait to get home from work and do a sweep of stuff. I took out random knick knacks off shelves, bit the bullet and got rid of 2 dozen pieces of clothing plus shoes jackets and bags. Threw away pounds of old school papers, old photographs and random folders. I went through pics from my childhood (taking selfies before selfies were a thing!) and kept a stack to scan. I threw away a dozen unused plant pots and at the end of all that, 2 big plastic tubs were empty and my garage a little less crowded. I am slightly addicted and can't wait to do more tomorrow. 

March 7 Day 2

Went to Smiths and saw the Easter section and was so much more aware of ALL THE THINGS. I avoided the children's clearance section because I always find a good deal I can't walk away from. Over the years I have learned to just not put myself in the place where the things are to buy- mall, boutique, etc. so grocery stores are my jam. But even there I find extra things I think I need. But I'm realizing more and more that I don't technically need any of it.  The Easter spot really just yelled POINTLESS STUFF at me today. It was kind of shocking. I don't really know how holidays will work. My kids are young enough not to know any different if we don't buy anything. I'm interested to see what I end up doing! But I will say the idea of taking money you would spend on stuff and saving it for a family vacation appeals to me soooo much. 

I got rid of more stuff today. I went in my kitchen cabinets and found things I have literally never used that we got as gifts from our wedding 6 years ago. Those are gone. I reduced our dozens of spatulas and spoons to a handful. I got rid of an extra 8x8 and 9x13 pan because I don't need 3 of each. I got rid of extra blenders (because we don't need 3). I got rid of some old picture frames that I've had since high school. I took down a few things from my walls. I keep the photos because those add value and bring joy to my life. I went through my bookshelves and got rid of maybe 2 dozen books. Those that I didn't really like when I read them, and will never read again. I'm keeping the books I loved and would recommend to someone or read again. I had purged books about 5 months ago so there wasn't as many books to get rid of. I got rid of 2 more pairs of shoes because I just can't wear them and function as a mother (too high, not stable, etc) and I finally let go of half a dozen necklaces that are old and out of style. I almost saved a few for Kenzie's dress up box but decided against it. 

March 8 Day 3

Have I mentioned how ADDICTING this is?? I have spent the last three days going through my entire house multiple times during nap time and keeping finding stuff to get rid of. Today I went through Kenzie's old clothes. I got rid of clothes that were out of style when I received them as a hand-me-down and that she never wore. I got rid of the little stained shirts and the 20 extra receiving blankets we never used. If I didn't use this stuff with my first- who arguably gets the most stuff/special treatment as a baby- I'm not concerned that I will need it for my third (if my third ends up being a girl). I still kept a lot. I kept the jammies and onsies and I know I have more than I "need". But they're all still in great condition and in style and I don't see the logic behind getting rid of stuff you'll need eventually. It's been really hard to get rid of random/excess stuff around the house and in my room, but the kids are different. I plan on keeping the chair that Cooper grows out of. The toys Mckenzie doesn't play with, but Cooper soon will, are staying. I just ask "does this add value" and for the most part, all the kids' stuff does. But the old girl clothes I never had Kenzie wear didn't add value then, and it won't add value down the road. I want to find a place to donate the clothes and blankets to help those who will find value in them. I should make a side note saying I'm not throwing anything away. It's all getting donated. Minus old pictures and papers- nothing is just going in the trash. 

So my trunk is full again and I'm feeling more free than ever. I went through my drawers AGAIN and picked a few more items to get rid of. I've gone through my clothes every day this week. It's getting easier each day to toss stuff. Today I put on a shirt and hated how it fit. Instead of putting it back in my closet I put it in the donation pile. This is honestly making me so happy. 

I had some extra energy tonight so tackled the pantry and spice cupboard. I threw out expired spices and expired food. I believe in food storage and having food and goods on hand ADDS VALUE to my life- so my pantry still looks like a pantry. But there is no longer random bent gift bags or cookb


ooks I have literally never opened. Minimalism doesn't have to be about an empty looking pantry. It's about having a pantry that is full of useful things that have a purpose. I also went through our junk basket and pen/scissor/anything vertical cup. We don't need 30 pens or old recipes or expired coupons. 

March 9 Day 4

I want to talk to everyone I know about this. I can't explain how much it has changed my outlook in less than a week. Random example- I pull a jar of tootsie rolls out of the pantry and pour out a handful. I pause, and put all of them back except one. Because one little tootsie roll will be enough to satisfy that want for sugar. I don't need, or even really want, to eat 10. But since they're small- why not? But because my mind has been in constant minimal mode I reevaluated in a split second and only kept one. Might seem small- but it's an example of how my thoughts are changing to be more aware of the decisions I'm making. 

I finished going through Kenzie's old baby clothes and found a few more things in my closet to get rid of. I've gone from having a dozen purses and bags to 3.  My old heels from high school (the pair I wore at graduation and a pair I bought for prom) are gone. Because they don't fit me as well two babies later and I never wear them. I think there are a lot of people who already do this: get rid of stuff when it's no longer useful. But me, and a lot of people I know, hold on to things for other reasons:

"Just in case" 
"I might need that one day"
"It's still in good condition"
"For when I go camping" (how I justified having 30 t-shirts I never wore) 
"It was a gift"
"It was free" - I am guilty of this!! I get stuff from work ALL THE TIME and bring it home because...why not?? It's free! 
Etc

When I was 16 I got a job at the mall and from my very first paycheck I bought stuff. I bought new clothes because I thought if I had hundreds of clothes people would like me more, or tease me less. And so I think I held on to things because why not have 100 shirts? It's actually a pretty cool seal of being on trend right? A huge overflowing closet is a sign of....something? But who says that?? And more importantly- Why should I care? Do clothes bring me joy? The ones that fit me and help me feel confident- absolutely. I won't be getting rid of those. But I will get rid of the clothes that just don't fit me right anymore. And clothes that have sat in my closet for more than a year but have never even been considered as an outfit choice. I don't want my self esteem to be tied to my closet or my home decor. I know I have really improved over the years on that point, but I will say this week has brought me more mental clarity and freedom than ever before. I am truly letting go of the emotional insecurities that I have placed on things.

March 10 Day 5 

I said at work today "I think I'm pretty much done going through everything" and then came home and got rid of 50 more things from my closet and 2 big bags of stuff from my bathroom and the kid's bathroom 😳 I have now gone through all the clothes, shoes and accessories I own and took out so much stuff. I had a little bit of anxiety for the first time as I got rid of some nice, quality and in style pieces. But as I felt that anxiety I asked myself "why?" And was really able to just sit there for a few minutes and decide where those feelings were coming from. And once I did, I was able to let go of the stuff, and the anxiety. The other time I had a "crap...what if I'll need that?" was when the people at Saver's were dumping all my bags and boxes of stuff into their carts. I saw so much...I was worried that maybe I got rid of too much. Or that I got rid of stuff that we might need one day. But then I came home and my house looks...the same. That stuff that was being stored in closets and cupboards were not adding value to my life. So I guess I'm saying that is hasn't been easy 100% of the time. But it has made me so happy and satisfied. 

I also went through our desk and my old CD case. I downloaded a few CDs onto the computer and then tossed them all out. Again, CDs hanging out at the bottom of my desk wasn't adding value to my life. They weren't even in my car where they could be used. So I just downloaded all the music onto an iPod and will keep that in my car. 

After 5 days and several hours, I have gone through every single room, drawer, cupboard, bag, tote, container and folder. I got rid of the things that don't add value to my life. And kept everything that does. It's not about not having any stuff. It's about having a purpose for your stuff. It's about having stuff YOU want. Not stuff just because you think you SHOULD or because that's how your home/closet/bathroom SHOULD look. It's about living a more meaningful life with less. What brings value to my life, might not bring value to yours. And the things that add value to my life now might not add value in 2 months or 8 months or 3 years. And when they no longer do, it's time to get rid of it. 

So there you have it. My first 5 Days of Minimalism. I genuinely feel like a different person. I'm excited to see what's next and what lessons I can continue to learn. If you're interested, here is what I recommend 
1. Watch the Minimalism documentary on Netflix of Vemeo 
2. Listen to their podcast. This is where they answer questions and explain in more detail and give tips on how to apply it to yourself personally 
2. They also have some cool articles on their website theminimalists.com 

Just like everything- I love a lot of what they say. And other things aren't for me (their diet, exercise or education views just as an example). But I think we can pick and choose and not have to be a die hard to be interested. 

For more daily or random thoughts/updates I'll be posting on IG @mbowen_ 

8.2.17

4am thoughts and a 3 month old baby

I randomly woke up this morning around 4am and stayed awake because I was in bed by 9 (sorry it sorry) and because all of a sudden my bed is really uncomfortable. Bart wants to get a new mattress and I'm just like...I'd rather spend that money on a vacation. Except at this moment I would totally drop 3K for a new mattress. 

Cooper is 3 months old and is perfect. Those first 2 months gave me a run for my money, but the last 3 weeks have seriously been a dream. I know babies do that on purpose, but I'm always quick to forgive them. My happiness as a mother is directly correlated to the amount of sleep I am getting. All praises to women who can function on just a few hours at a time, but in all honestly a lack of sleep is one of my biggest anxiety and depression triggers. Baby or not- if I'm not sleeping well at night I become a jumbled hot mess of tears and emotions. I was crying to my mom one day (and every day before and after this phone call for probably a solid month) wishing I could just handle the sleep deprivation like a "normal" person. But I can't, so I put my baby on a schedule and figure out sleep training and by 10 weeks old my baby is sleeping thru the night and mommy is a sane person again. 

Cooper is a thumb sucker, which is my favorite trait in all of babyland and is the reason he sleeps so well at night and naps like a champ. He still loves to be held and I love it too and snuggle as much as possible. All he does is smile at me and guys, I'm still just as obsessed by it. He'll smile when I get him up in the morning, he smiles at me through his crying if I'm not feeding him fast enough, and he'll smile all the way through his bottle. He's also a big talker and will sit and chat/yell at me for as long as I'm in his face talking back. He's scared of loud noises like the piano at church and the chairs moving across the tile and will get the saddest look on his face before starting to cry. He loves watching his sister and isn't as scared of her anymore. Kenzie is SO MUCH BETTER and I can actually leave him on the floor and let her play because she doesn't have attack-the-baby on the brain (most days) 

I went back to work last week and this week I'm really missing my babies. But I'm glad to be back and routine/schedule is my love language so it's good. For now, working with 2 kids is the same amount of difficult, but managing the house is harder. I go much longer between grocery trips and other errands because getting two kids in and out of the car when it's cold and wet and one kid's nap time is just not a game I volunteer to play often. Maybe when it gets warmer or maybe when I don't have to take the infant car seat in every time or maybe when I grow an extra arm those things will become a priority again. Maybe. 

Bart is in full head coach mode and I'm so proud of him! The timing worked out well because now he is home around 6 most nights instead of 3, but it matched up with me going back to work, so I'm not on hour 12 of kids all to myself = I'm not staring at the clock counting down the hours minutes seconds until he gets home (most days). I'm excited for this year and it's been fun to chat about the good bad and ugly of the program during pillow talk. Kenzie already loves daddy's new work and I'm sure we'll be spending a lot of our time on the east side. 

I could keep going, but it's now time to officially wake up and get ready and if I don't publish this sucker now, I probably won't remember until the next time I'm up at 4. Xo

24.1.17

12 Weeks of Mommy Glory

I'd like to say maternity leave has been filled with only wonderful moments where my children were happy 100% of the time and I lost all the baby weight and really "found" myself and learned yoga and 50 new paleo recipes. I'd like to say I made breakfast lunch and dinner every day and my house stayed clean and my kids didn't wear the same clothes 2 days in a row. Id like to say I really embraced craft time and we celebrated each holiday with special activities. I'd like to say we spent our days outside riding scooters and feeding ducks and having picnics. But it was like 20 degrees the entire time and sometimes it was just easier to let Kenzie find a snack in the pantry than make lunch and not fight her to change her 2 day old shirt. And sometimes craft time only lasted 5 minutes because one cotton ball snowman is enough and playing with scissors is more fun anyway. And sometimes when my kids were both asleep and I had a chance to exercise I chose to lay down on the couch and binge watch Gilmore Girls because the theme song to Daniel the Tiger and Super Why was keeping me up at night. 

The last 12 weeks I have only showered every several days and worn makeup even less. I've eaten candy for breakfast and skipped countless lunches. I've slept and not slept and cried a lot. I've missed my husband and my job and my friends and my sense of "normal". We have gone to the library like every other day because it's inside and not our house and it kills 1-2hrs of our day. Grocery shopping became something we did more because we were bored and less because we needed actual groceries. Sometimes I even just loaded up the kids and drove around because all Mckenzie wanted to do was whine and try to kill her brother and keeping her buckled up and away from my view is only approved when you're in the car. 

Mckenzie embraced 3 hour naps every day and that was my alone time with Cooper and the reason she is still alive and I still have some of my sanity. We spent our mornings waking up at 6am and waiting until 10 because nothing opens until 10 except Target. Thank goodness for Target. We watched a lot of TV. We learned that "grown ups come back" and azul is blue in Spanish and that Curious George always gets into trouble. We watched Angry Birds on repeat and got through the scary parts of Beauty and the Beast until they weren't so scary anymore. I repeat: we watched a lot of TV. 

I watched my baby boy find his hands and his smile and learn how to laugh and sleep on his own. I watched my big girl learn to take deep breaths when she is frustrated and to play soft with her brother. I've learned to take deep breaths too and realize I CAN make the choice not to yell. I learned how beautiful time with a new baby can be when you aren't also dealing with post partum depression. I learned that I am a good mom EVERY DAY because I love them and am doing my best to teach them and all those nasty thoughts in my head about not being good enough aren't truth. 

Am I ready to go back to work? Yes. Have I loved my 12 weeks spent in all its mommy glory? Yes. 

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