“…with space left over”: An Inspirational Story of Minimalism and Simple Living

This post was originally published on December 29, 2010, and was updated on March 29, 2020.

Here is a story that pretty well defines my take on what I perceive minimalism to be about. This is a testimonial sent out by Marla “Flylady” Cilley to all her “flybabies” several years ago.

“My elderly cousin died Wednesday night. I went to her funeral today. The church was packed. Everyone from teenagers to old people was grieving. The funeral singers couldn’t sing because of their grief. The preacher got choked up talking about her and almost couldn’t go on.

“Everyone was talking about her many kindnesses, how she helped so many people, touched so many lives–in spite of various infirmities and having so little in the way of financial resources. I kept remembering how I always felt so welcome when I visited her in the house she shared with her sister, and how much I was going to miss knowing that welcome and encouragement was always there.

“Then, her nephew got up to speak about her, and he mentioned that when they’d gone into her little bedroom, you could pack up every worldly possession she owned, and it would fit into the trunk of a normal size car… with space left over.

“And I thought–ahh, so that was part of her secret. She lavished her time on all of us, instead of investing it in things.

[edit] I’m wondering if it might be possible even for a packrat like me, to come to the end of my life with only enough possessions to fill the trunk of a car… but with a church and community packed with people whose lives I’ve touched.

Limping along, in Ohio”

This, to me, is the inspiration I draw upon when I stumble with minimalism.  I have had and read this story over and over again for many years.  How amazing, that this elderly lady could easily live with so few possessions, and yet had a circle of friends and community who adored her so much!

Now it’s your turn to tell me a story! Share your inspirational minimalism story!

Attachment Parenting: A Testimonial

This post was originally published on December 14, 2010, and was updated on March 11, 2020.

If ever I needed affirmation or example of the benefits of attachment parenting, I received it tonite.

My husband and I attended a special dinner tonite put on my our local church. Of course, we took Naomi with us. 

Throughout the evening, Naomi sat in our laps. She played with toys, she snuggled with us, she smiled and giggled and shook hands with her many admirers. She ate mashed potatoes and played with a spoon (6, actually, as she kept dropping them). Manu people came up to us and said she was beautiful, lovely, a blessing. And quite a few remarked “And she’s so good! My son/daughter/niece/nephew/grandchild is never so well behaved!”

Let me start by insisting that Naomi is the same as any other baby out there. She gets diaper rash. She has a fussy period in the evening. She gets frightened by the kitchen appliances. She doesn’t like to sit for long periods of time. She wants mommy and cries if I’m out of sight.

So why is it that she’s so good? And does that mean other babies are bad?

I have always been bothered by the phrase “a good baby”. It implies that there are “bad babies”, and I do not believe that is so. There are definitely babies with high needs. This does not, however, make them bad.

My belief is, there is a vital and underrated factor in what makes our daughter “good”. And that is her father and I. We are not going to be held up as “Parents of the Year”, and have no intentions of tooting our own horns here.

What we do, however, is the most basic and fundamental rule of any relationship: we listen.

Our daughter’s cries are responded to. If she is vocalizing, we assume she is trying to tell us something. She is nursed on demand. She is put down to nap. She is changed, cuddled, carried, held, left alone, talked to, sung to, played with, helped out, and any other method of attention we can think of. Our daughter asks for our attention and we listen to her. She is not left to cry alone for longer than is absolutely necessary (say, while she is forced to sit in her car seat when we have to drive somewhere). Even in such situations, we calmly explain why it has to be those way. Naomi knows us and trusts that we will respond to her requests as quickly and accurately as we can.

Does that mean that we get everything right? Nope! Does that mean she only cries when she has a fixable need? Nope! Does that mean she never gets on our nerves? Nope!

But we have made a commitment to her and ourselves, from Day 1, to do what is best for her. And for us, that meant building a strong, attached bond with Naomi so she knew she could trust us to do right by her and each other.

For us, that means breastfeeding on demand, dressing her in safe cotton clothes and unisex designs, having her sit with us at meal times, bedsharing/co-sleeping, taking her to family events and social environments, responding to her cries and requests (not demands, requests), teaching her how to communicate with us, wearing her at home and outside, letting her interract with other babies,ta and showing her that her parents love and care for both her and each other by showing affection (hugs, kisses, doing nice things, compliments) in front of her.

Tonite, when she started showing signs of fatigue, I put her in her car seat and rocked her slowly until she was out cold. She slept for half an hour this way, til the congregation’s applause awoke her. When she started grabbing at my plate, I gave her a small spoon of mashed potatoes and let her munch on that. When she started to fidget with boredom, I handed her toys and cooed and talked to her. When she squirmed in my lap, I passed her to Daddy. When she was restless, I put her in her sling and we walked around and rocked near the back of the room. Throughout the 2.5 hour event, she never uttered a peep.

It takes careful planning, too. We had completed the majority of our chores and I had made sure she’d had a good restful nap throughout the day before we tried this trip. Our success was apparent in the cheerful grins and bright eyes she showed to all the others in attendance who stopped by to admire our beautiful girl.

Is being an attached parent easy? No, not always. We have had tear-filled, sleepless nights. We have had angry, frustrated rants. We have had guilty, disappointed moments.

But the benefits? Restful sleep. Increased love and friendship. A strong, united family. A cheerful, healthy baby. Oh it is so, so worth it.

Do you have any attachment testimonials? Tell me about it!

6 Frugal Favourite Baby Toys You Probably Already Have In Your Kitchen

This post was originally published on October 25, 2010, and was updated on March 11, 2020.

Naomi, age 5 momths, circa 2010.

We didn’t really realize how simple a baby toy could be until Naomi was old enough to sit in her high chair. Once she was able to do that comfortably, I saw how fascinated she was at the sight of a set of metal measuring spoons I was using one day. These quickly became her favorite rattle. I realized that all the plastic junk toys we’d collected couldn’t hold a candle to a good bunch of regular kitchen utensils.

Her first favorite is the wooden spoons. She loves to chew on them and bang them against her high chair, and listen to the smacking sound it makes.

She also likes it when we pile silicone muffin cups, plastic pudding and yogurt cups into pyramids and then she swings her spoon awkwardly into them, causing a giggling crash.

Cookie cutters are great shapes to trace your finger around, to chew on, and to smash on the tray.  They can be strung on wooden spoons or over little hands like bracelets.  Smaller ones can be stacked inside larger ones to make lovely stacking toys as well! 

Mesh grocery bags are a fantastic tactile toy for little fingers to explore. It is fun to put stuff in and let her discover how to get it out, such as face cloths, small toys, clean cloth wipes and even little feet. I love the puzzled look on her face trying to figure it out.

A clean dish towels serves as a great way to play “Find the Baby”. I simply drape it over her head, and then start calling her name in a sing-song voice, wondering where my baby went. I can usually put an item or two away before she finds her way out.

But the best toy is, as always, Mommy and Daddy. Especially playing Peekabo, grabbing little feet, making funny faces or telling stories with lots of big hand gestures.

What are some of your child’s favourite toys?  Let us know in the comments!