What Are Your Priorities?

As 2011 approaches, mere days away, I am called to look upon it and decide what I am to strive for in my future. To do this, I have to determine what is important to me and what is not.

So let’s talk priorities. What matters to you the most? What takes president over all other aspects of your life?

  • Jesus
    Well, the first one, for us at least as a Christian family, is fairly easy. Our savior asks to be our first priority in all things and we choose to obey him. For us, this means: 

    • Attending worship services
    • Praying together as a family and as individuals
    • Helping others less fortunate through our time, gifts and charity
    • Reading our Bibles
    • tithing

  • Family
    it is, of course, no surprise that the members of our family come in second (and a very close second, I might add!). However, in caring for our family, many other aspects and priorities melt together. So our ways of making our family a priority includes: 

    • Enjoying meals together at the table.
    • Talking our issues out
    • Spending quality time together
    • Being kind to each other in thought, word and deed
    • Being responsible for and to each other
  • Health and Well Being
    This one actually requires an effort. And a lot of effort at that. Our health is a major factor that often gets put on the back burner. In order to keep our health a top priority, we plan to: 

    • Be active physically
    • Eat more fruits and vegetables
    • Stick mainly with God-made, not man-made, foods
    • Eat local, organic and raw as much as possible
    • Eliminate as many chemicals, salts, sugars and junk as possible
    • Become aware of what we put in and on our bodies
    • Attend regular doctor and dentist appointments
    • Cut out our bad habits (salt, pop, laziness)
    • Drink more water.
  • Financial Freedom
    We are under our creditors thumbs right now, but have dreams of escape. We strive to become free of the oppression our cruel taskmasters have chained us to. Our intention is to: 

    • Develop and maintain a budget
    • Eliminate most unnecessary spending
    • Consider our options and choose the best one for our family
    • Pay off our debts as quickly as possible
    • Create an emergency fund of $1000
  • Our Environments
    While I recognize the plight of our planet and our need to take actions, it is important to recognize our other environments as well. ¬†Specifically our home and work environments. Focusing on these, we intend to: 

    • Find Michael a new job
    • Eliminate clutter
    • Simplify our home as much as possible
    • Reduce, reuse, recycle, and my favorite, upcycle
    • Look at home based employment for me

While it seems like a lot, the truth is that once we begin, we will see a lot of these things meld together. Eating local saves money. Attending Church improves our environment. Selling and eliminating clutter helps us financially.

You can monitor our goals and progress here at 43things.com. I am excited — always ready for a challenge!

Welcome to the miniMOMist

“I worry she’s too stressed,” my husband Michael said of our daughter one December evening. She had been crying again for what appears to us to be no valid reason and we didn’t understand her needs. Our daughter, Naomi was only 6 months old at the time. From birth, we had never left her side. We¬†practice¬†cosleeping, babywearing, breastfeeding and taken her with us to each and every event we attended. We were practicing attachment parenting and seeing wonderful results from it. Our beautiful baby girl had always been ahead in her development; she rarely fussed or cried without valid reason. She was a bright, cheerful and happy baby.

So the idea that she could possibly be stressed baffled me. How was this possible? She had no reason to be stressed! We lived for her, did everything we thought we could do for her. How was it possible she was stressed?

After Michael’s comment, I began to look around me and started to realize where it was Naomi’s stress might be derived. Our home life, work life, diet, energy, social life, and finances were in crisis. I couldn’t keep up with the housework. Michael loathed his job. We were in debt. We ate carbs and protein almost entirely with very minimal variety. We were always tired and sick. We were more often than not neglecting or avoiding non-crucial social gatherings, especially church. Our hobbies had long since been put on the back burner.

It quickly became apparent that it wasn’t just Naomi who might be stressed out, but her parents as well!

Now before anyone jumps to conclusions, I wish to make the following point completely clear and understood: Neither of us in any way see or believe our attached parenting style had anything to do with our current situation. We had decided before her birth that these guidelines were chosen and implemented in order for us to provide for her what we feel is a loving, comforting home. And what’s more, we had been seeing results almost from day one! Naomi slept through the night from about day five to present day, had never been sick, was clear with most of her communications and was one of the best behaved babies we had ever known. In short, even though we knew we were biased, our choices had helped us culture in our daughter the lovely and friendly little girl that she is.

What had happened, I realized, was we had been duped by the traditional line fed all new parents: the gorgeous, cooing baby lying docile in his crib, while his lovely, perfectly dressed mommy (usually in a crisp white blouse and pearls) leaned over his crib and sighed dreamily at her little bundled angel. The rooms they were in had surely never seen a speck of dirt since the mother had turned 13. All babies slept on schedule, ate neat and clean, all housework was done without effort, no cost need ever be considered. In short, all new mommies and daddies should be able to do it all, and what’s more, maintain the perfection they had in their pre-baby lifestyle.

Well, reality was quickly settling in. No baby is perfect, and what’s more, certainly no parent is perfect. And what’s more, having a baby changes you, your spouse, your life, everything. And no one and nothing prepares you for it.

I thought about this over the next several days. I knew there were some things that I couldn’t change. I couldn’t make my husband’s job more agreeable, nor could I immediately decrease the amount of debt we currently had. But I could start making sure that my time was spent wisely. I could trim the fat of my day and focus on what actually mattered. I began to look at my day and realized that there were many, many changes that could be made to make my home life and family life simpler, more productive and easier on us all.

I began listing changes I intended to make, striving to come up with ways of working the current situation in our favor. And the more I looked at it, the more I realized that the simple acts of simplifying, minimizing and downsizing could indeed help us reach our goals.

And that is how miniMOMist came to be. Here we will share how minimalism impacts us and our world as a family. Through green living, upcycling, simplifying, thoughtful actions, nurturing, caring and loving, I intend to decrease the chaos that surrounds us and create a comfortable, sustainable lifestyle for us.

I look forward to sharing this exciting endeavour with you all and eagerly await your interactions. Over the next 6 days, I plan to lay out my plans, objectives and goals that I anticipate for the coming year.

Have you chosen to make 2011 a time to simplify your life? Is there an area you need to work on in order to make life less stressful for yourself and your children? I’d love to hear about it!

This Christmas, Part 1: What Christmas Wasn’t

In reflection on the holiday, I am so pleased to present a two part run down of what Christmas was and wasn’t for our family this year:

  • extravagant gifts. Michael and I set a limit on our budgets. I spent $30 on a lego set for him, with which I will fill his stocking tomorrow. I don’t know what he got me but I trust it is within budget.
  • long hours shopping. We created the photobooks for our parents and Nana free online. The yarn I bought for Naomi’s stocking was only $4.00. The lego were a purchase weeks ago. My brother and sister-in-law’s gifts were on CDs we had at home.
  • Increasing debt. Total spent (outside of gas) was under $100.00 for gifts for 8 people.
  • Stressful holiday parties. My mother’s side gets together several times over the month of December, while Michael’s family celebrated one large party tonite. At each function, we secured a changing spot, a comfy chair, and a sling, in which to nurse and nap our baby. And we made it clear that we intended to leave early so all three of us acquired adequate rest. No guilt trips, no fuss, no drama. Simple.
  • Polite social gatherings. Confession time: I am a wallflower. I hate get togethers with people I don’t know. Fortunately Michael’s workplace did not include a fancy party with expensive clothes or excessive alcohol. To some, this is sad, but instead they provided a lovely turkey dinner for their employees. Michael was pleased and I don’t have to pretend to understand math and machinery. Nor does our daughter have to be fondled and cooed at by strangers. Win-win!
  • Lavish meals or excess baking. We have never been good at the food aspect. We’re more the dishwashers and less the dishmakers.
  • commercialization. Because we avoided shopping malls, television, and modern consumerism, we have been able to keep our sights on what matters most for our family at this time of year: Jesus.

What about you? What wasn’t your Christmas this year?

Nostalgia

I have been on a Victorian/Edwardian extravaganza the past couple weeks. Once I rediscovered the joy that can be found in audiobooks, I set aside television and websites throughout the day in order to envelope Naomi and I in the delights of classic literature. So far, I have enjoyed wonderful romances, illuminating revelations, gruelsome horrors, and delightful adventures.

Shortly after enjoying the first three volumes of the Anne of Green Gables series, I searched and found a copy of the movie series that began in the 1980s, starring Megan Follows as the precocious little red head who delighted and thrilled dusty old Avonlea, Prince Edward Island. It brought back dear, fond memories of days gone by, when my mother and I would set aside an hour of our lives on Sunday nights to watch the spin-off television series, Road to Avonlea, in which several wonderful and vivacious characters had most ordinary adventures in their beautiful home communities. The simplicity and toil of their lives, the beautiful flowing skirts and puffed sleeves, the delight in simple things, like a new crochet pattern, an elegant poem, or a delicate heirloom, all thrilled and inspired me.

Photo Credit

What strikes me most, I think, is the love of others that was so profound of the stories. The children’s love and affection for one another; the kinsmanship and closeness of family; the connection to one’s home and neightbors. Its the closeness and connection that makes these stories so illuminating. We are so easily parted and isolated. We know all of our family and friends are just a quick phone call or email away. Going to our mailboxes no longer excites us because we know the only thing inside are bills, flyers or catalogs; we no longer experience the pleasure of a lovely handwritten note from a friend. We no longer visit with family, since everyone we wish to talk to can be done so over a receiver or through our computer screens. While the convenience is lovely, the distance between individual interaction grows farther and farther apart.

I myself miss these simple pleasures, when inviting someone to tea was as important as inviting them to a party, or when being loaned a book meant you were entrusted with something dear, since such texts were mich more diffocult to acquire. Lunches were carried in baskets; handcrafts were for relaxation as well as practicality; making do was not an option, but a necessity.

Photo Credit

What are your thoughts? Were times better way back when? Or is the convenience of modern technology a vast improvement? Do you think our advancements have put distance between us?