15 September 2014

Our Summer Without

You may recall from this post that our family moved here with only the things we could fit in our suitcases. 

And we are bringing those same suitcases to Germany with us this week. (Did I hear an eek?) Some people think we are crazy . . . or magicians . . . for living off only what we can carry. But the truth is we kind of love it. 

Since we got married, Curtis and I periodically chat about our lifestyle—and how we are changing from two separate people into one unified couple. One of the first times we went grocery shopping as a married couple, I reached for one of my childhood favorites: Hamburger Helper beef stroganoff (Mmmm . . .). Can you believe Curtis turned up his nose? "You will cook only from scratch, slave," he shook his finger at me. Ok, he probably called me "lovely," squeezed my hand tenderly, and encouraged me by telling me some of the benefits from cooking from scratch, but that isn't what I remember. Looking back, however, I'm grateful that he forced inspired me to learn a new skill. And now I love it.

That's the pattern with some of the other changes we've made together. When I first brought up using cloth diapers with Sebastian, Curtis was skeptical. But he'll be the first to tell you—(That's a lie. I'd be the first to tell you.)—that we don't understand why more people don't do it. Same story for green, non-toxic cleaning and starting a garden. We did our research, we made the switch, and we're all happier.

For our future, Curtis wants our home to be totally energy efficient (and has even considered living off the grid). I've always been a fan of living TV free (I can hear my mom, What?!). I'm interested in ditching the crib for all future babies. We might even try ditching furniture all together! (Probably not.) For us, we have fun thinking of ways that we can adapt our lifestyle to make it more frugal, more natural, more interesting, more enjoyable, more us.

Our life in bags.
Back to those bags! This summer, we've really got to experience two of the ideas we have talked about periodically but never got around to doing. These, like some of our other decisions, aren't popular or culturally normal, but they are Mustachian, and we really think they will work for us.

Restricting our Toy Box
A family in our ward in Provo had an interesting "toy free" policy in their home. Upon first hearing that my friend would discourage people from buying her kids toys, I thought, "What deprivation! The inhumanity!" But over the three years that we lived there, I would walk past her house. Her kids, as well as other kids from the neighborhood, were always playing outside, using their imaginations, and engaging with each other. They may not have had expensive toys, but they clearly had a playful childhood—climbing trees, pretending to be pirates, being creative, running with other kids. They didn't feel deprived. They didn't find their mother inhumane. In fact, I would say their mother gave them a great gift by not giving them toys.

Sebastian is nearly two, and we've been really blessed to have friends and family shower him with fun gifts over the past two years. What I've noticed (as well as probably every other parent who has bought toys for their kids) is that he will play with a toy . . . until he doesn't play with it anymore. It could be one day or it could be one month. But eventually, that toy ends up in his box more than in his hands. There are a few toys that he plays with constantly: Matchbox cars, sidewalk chalk, plastic bowls, and a small collection of Mega Bloks (Oh wait, that's because that's all he has.) And we kind of love it.

I called my friend from Provo to ask her exactly what she meant by "toy free." It turns out that she does allow a few toys, but only toys that she knows her kids will play with. They have a small house, and with four kids, they can't just collect toys. Her boys always played with train sets and car tracks. Her girl has a few dolls. They've always had a set of blocks. But they've always played.

Curtis and I really want to restrict the amount of stuff we bring into our family space. We see the value in many toys, but we also see the value in spending time together and exploring Mother Earth's toy box. We can also force ourselves to be creative in our gift giving. Rather than buying things for our children, we would love to offer more meaningful service and provide more memorable experiences.

Restricting our Closet
In May, as we were packing for the next six months, we had to evaluate what we really needed. We had (as you can see) limited space, and considering what we thought we needed for two babies, we had to cut the clothes. I once read a post about a forty-hanger closet. I once jokingly asked my mom if she'd be willing to try it. We went back and forth, but ultimately came to the conclusion that it was a ridiculous endeavor. Who honestly has only forty hangers in their closet?

Well, here is mine today.

My side.
His side.
Miss Forty Hanger, I believe, hogs all forty hangers to herself. We—together—have a total of twenty hangers. That's right! 2-0. Have I mentioned we kind of love it

Clearly, we also wear pants. We've got a dresser with six drawers: One drawer each for five days of socks and underwear, another drawer for a week's worth of shirts, and the last drawer for three pairs of pants. But would you guess how many full boxes of clothes are sitting in that storage unit in Portland? I won't tell you. But if we've learned one thing this summer, it's that we don't need them (or miss them) one bit. 

What I love about our closet is that I love everything in it. I never have to debate about what to wear that day (which has nothing to do with the fact that I see no other adult humans, I promise). I know I've tried on an outfit before church only to decide I feel like wearing something else. There are dresses I haven't worn in years, but I can't just get rid of them, What if I want to wear it again someday? And so the closet grows . . . . 

So, when we are reunited with our boxes, we plan to do some major purging, It sounds lovely and liberating to us. And we are planning to move into a 774-square-foot apartment so we don't back out on ourselves. 

So both of these ideals are not things we have ever thought we would have wanted, nor are they lifestyles we are used to. But I think the thing we love most about these ideas is that they are just unconventional enough to make us nervous to bring them up. But then we do. And we accept each other. And we make our ideas ours. And we become a stronger team. And we kind of love it

1 comment:

  1. Have you heard of Norwex?? For cleaning? I kind of love it. :)