Sunday, July 23, 2017

Simplicity and Magnification

Post-church photo means tired, hungry kids. But we made it on time for the Sacrament!

My life is not simple. I care full-time for three tiny people, pretty much by myself while my husband lives 231 miles away most days. I attempt to work while my children sleep, helping to establish a center for constitutional history at Oxford and creating a foundation for its enfranchisement in France  (though I am suppose to be identifying best practices in constitution-writing, but all in good time). I personally manage a 3.2 acre farmlette lush with poison ivy, grown-over blackberry and blueberry patches, a small herb garden where order reigns, and woods that threaten to swallow us whole daily (didn't really understand logging till I moved here!).  I am almost done curating our 250-year-old house into a home. I hope to do and learn many more things, including reading the great works my practical degrees did not require, learning how to can, dry, and freeze the abundance of food that makes its way into our home, and living again with my husband some day.

Among those things, I hope for peace. The kind that simplicity brings. I'm convinced that simplicity helps us to experience more of the good in life.

Someone in Sunday School today talked about magnifying and simplifying. Magnification in this sense is used to depict enlarging, leaning into, and expanding the voluntary responsibilities we accept in my faith.

It got me thinking - focusing, for instance, on bringing the Spirit into a meeting or lesson is much more important and much simpler than making sure you have the right centerpiece.  It will also likely take less time (if you get in your daily study), but more focused time in studying, pondering, and praying.

Likewise, I've found the last few weeks that simplifying my Sunday morning routine helps my family get to church on time and feel the Spirit more. They and my house don't look as great, but we feel better.

Here are a few more ways I simplify so I have more time for what matters:

* Cut my hair so it's pretty much wash-and-go, and have trained it so I wash it only twice weekly.

* Do laundry once a week unless there is a bathroom incident, and only wash the clothes with stains on them or that smell bad.

* Open mail once a week.

* Try not to leave the house in the afternoon - it's naps, work time, projects/playing outside and dinner.

* Have almost exclusively white towels and sheets - just bleach the lot when it's dirty, and everything is interchangeable.

* Purge weekly - especially toys that seem to accumulate and random papers.

* Serve my kids corn and beans from cans on Sunday for dinner (really).

* Dress Esther and Ingy in dresses almost exclusively. Saves so much time rather than worrying about what matches!

* Pack a lunch and feed my kids out or in the car for lunch. Every day. I can't manage three cleanups in a day!

* Outsource. I might be the full-time mom, but I get help for the things I would normally do during nap time while I work - folding, ironing, and cleaning. I also have to get help outside, as Lance needs time with the family on the weekends rather than managing the farmlette. Some day when my kids can be trusted around the front of the house where cars roll by at 40-50 mph, I'll be able to do the pruning and weeding - I actually love it, but not now...

* Barefoot house. I don't vacuum (the cleaners do once a week).

* Make sure the food is good, but skimp on setting and decorating the table. Perhaps I should do more here, but maybe when I have children who are older and can help?

* Have the same thing for breakfast daily.

Question: What do you do to simplify? I'm always looking for more ways!

Small Wonders:

* Gideon (4)
- In reference to a particular babysitter, "I don't like her so much"
- Dad driving up to New Hampshire for the weekened - "He's a great man!"
- [To me] "Is your milk doing well?"
- "Have you ever put fire in your mouth and said "roar" like a bear? Well, I haven't, too."
- "Raspberries on my pancakes? That's going to be like a feast or a picnic!"
- Excellent at excuses for not doing things.  Recently, its, "But, the Lamanites are coming!"
- When I tell them to move in the direction of the car, Gideon breaks out into Madagascar "Move it move it" singing.

* Esther (2 1/2)
- While changing her poopy undies, a reluctant chang-ee said, "not fair!" When I asked to whom it wasn't fair that she had pooped in her undies when she knew how to use the potty- me, or her, she then said, "I can't help it!"
- While holding her, Esther will say, "I got you!" then start singing, "I've got everything, I've got you!"
- When I ask the kids to backup, Esther will start saying, "beep! beep! beep!" like a utility truck
- Esther will drag on bedtime as long as you will let her. When asking which book she wanted in her crib to read while she settled in, she said, "I want my favorite book. The one that is special to me." After inquiring which that was, she said, with a wry smile knowing there were several and it take me a while to figure out, "it's green..."

* Ingy (seven months)
- Sitting like a champ. She can sit and entertain herself for 15-20 minutes, especially on the sand at the pond
- she's started blowing bubbles and gurgling. Can carry on a conversation for minutes on end.
- can go from sitting to laying down
- wouldn't know from looking at her, but she has an off-the-charts, massive noggin!
- has started to cuddle - on purpose
- wants to be in the middle of her siblings' play, and has started mimicing certain things
- plays peak-a-boo of her own initiative and bounces much of the time because she is so excited about life.

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