I think back to my years growing up. and I can only remember a handful of material possessions.  A pink teddy bear, a wooden rocking chair, an old pot.  And in truth, I have two of those items still.  The material items are not what I recall.

But the legacies?  That is what lingers in my mind.  The quiet, clean country home my father built from scratch around us.  The dusty driveway my brother and I rode our bikes up and down throughout the spring.  I remember when that little blue box of macaroni and cheese only came out as a treat.  I remember homemade curtains, a kitty cuddled by the front door, a garden in the back yard that always yielded plenty of tomatoes and green beans.  

Christmases around a real tree.  Toads in the font yard.  Deer in the driveway early in the mornings.  The radio playing in my father’s workshed.  An old kite that was stuck in a tree for years.  Ghost stories late at night.  The smell of woodsmoke.  Homemade cotton sundresses.  Bare feet.  My dad and brother playing the guitar.  Fresh fish and potatoes.  Sunlight streaming in the many windows of our bright yellow kitchen.  Reading by the light of the hallway (until I got caught).  

A grove of trees that we spent hours and hours exploring.  A playhouse with an upstairs.  Jumping in puddles in the rain.  My mother’s delicious homemade lasagna and chocolate chip cookies.  Rushing past the windows in the dark, always afraid of what might be outside.  Fresh air from the cracked windows in the spring.  

These are the things I remember.  These are the legacies my childhood has left me with.  So many joyous, pleasant memories.  I strive every day to provide my daughter with the same experiences in our quiet home. 

Someday, when she looks back, I pray she recalls fresh bedsheets, homemade bread, warm quilts and hot chocolate, bedtime stories, prayers at the foot of the bed, a pot of soup always simmering, hours spent at the library, bible reading around the dinner table, playing Lego with Daddy, garden fresh veggies, grass between her toes.  

I hope she remembers journals and diaries, late night talks with Mommy, warm mugs of tea, cheerful songs on the radio, weekends with grandparents, fun Daddy dates, lazy Sunday afternoons, homework around the kitchen table.  

So many aspirations and so many joyous memories to leave.  Raising children is not about buying toys and clothes, it’s not about obsessing over schools and playgroups.  It’s not about proper manners and being the all-star mommy.  It’s about so much opportunity to create legacies.  Today is a wonderful time to start.  

What will you do today to leave a legacy?

Mom Talk: Attachment Parenting and the miniMOMist

you may be surprised to learn that some minimalists have *gasp!* children! Leo Babauta of Zen Habits has 6 children. Dave Bruno of The 100 Thing Challenge has three daughters (good luck, Dave!). And those children were, at one time, babies. Wiggly, giggly, squiggly, gorgeous little babies.

For something that, on average, only weighs 7.5 lbs at birth, babies come with a lot of stuff. Cribs, clothes, toys, bottles, bibs, playpens, strollers, pillows, diapers, soothers, and laundry laundry laundry!

But in truth, this need not be the case. When Naomi was born, we too had the copious amounts of stuff. But since then, I have realized how much we didn’t need, because of the method of parenting we are practicing.

Attachment parenting is a phrase coined by Dr. William Sears. It is described as “sensitive or responsive parenting that allows the child to build a strong, trusting bond with his caregiver and allow him to grow confident in his world and it’s surroundings.”

It involves a lot of techniques viewed rather taboo by mainstream culture, including, but not limited to, breastfeeding, babywearing, positive discipline, cosleeping, and gentle sleep habits. Most attachment parents participate in some, but not all, of these traits.

The truth is, however, mindful attachment parenting can actually help dwindle the material baby objects you have in your home.

Babywearing involves using a simple or structured carrier to keep your baby on you while you are walking/moving around. Examples of baby carriers include stretchy or woven wraps, ring slings, pouch slings, or structured carriers. These allow you to carry, comfort, soothe and care for your baby without leaving him in a stressful situation, such as in a car seat, all alone. Babies can sleep, look around and learning more at this higher vantage point.

What it Elimilates: Strollers, Possibly Car Seats, Play Pens.. If you have no car, you wouldn’t, in theory, need a car seat, but I would have one as it is illegal and extremely unsafe to drive without one with a baby in your car. However, with baby riding high and happy in a comfy carrier, you don’t really need a stroller or a playpen. We have a very expensive stroller we got as a gift that has hardly been used, since both Naomi and I love babywearing so much.

Breastfeeding is by far the best thing you can possibly do for your baby, after unconditional love. Human breastmilk is designed for baby’s delicate digestive system and provides your baby with any and all nutritional necessities. It’s free, always the right temperature, decreases gas bubbles, reduces the chance of allergies, earaches, colic, etc. The benefits of breastfeeding are numerous!

What This Eliminates: Baby bottles, nipples, covers, formulas, breast pumps, bottle warmers, bottle sterilizers, bottle brushes. I will go on record and declare to the world, that I hate pumping. If I were to die tomorrow, that can be my epitaph. While some women with an overabundance might need it, if your child is exclusively breastfed, as Naomi was, until she begins solids, you will not have need for any of these things. The breastmilk is always “on tap” so to speak.

Co-Sleeping involves many variations, but in essence, the baby and parent share some form of sleeping space, such as sharing a bed, sidecaring a crib to the adult bed (our arrangement), having baby sleep in a bassinet beside the bed, etc. Never more than an arm’s length away, the parents can both monitor baby’s breathing, can nurse baby when he wakes up, can change baby quickly, etc.

What This Eliminates: A separate room, baby decor, the majority of baby furniture, etc. So much space and money is saved via this route. My own personal preference, sidecarred crib, allows the best of both worlds. My daughter sleeps soundly, and I can nurse her back to sleep as soon as she wakes up, while she still has her own space, away from us, in her crib. All she needs for bedding is a crib sheet and a sleep sack and she is good for the night!

Other branches of attachment parenting, while not so material-based, can include but are not limited to: natural childbirth, home birth, stay-at-home parenting, homeschooling, unschooling, anti-circumcision, natural health, cooperative movements, naturism and support of organic and local foods. We ourselves practice many of these activities. However, as these are not our focus, this can be left for another discussion.

Minimalism is about removing distractions from your life in order to focus on what is truly important. Whether through birth, adoption or fostering, having a child in your life is one of those things that should make all your other distractions pale in comparison. With the help of attachment parenting, Michael and I have been able to commit so much love and time to our daughter, that we have a relationship with her that is hard to describe. We know her so well and are so deeply bonded to her, that we can tell just what she needs before she even realizes it. In truth, I am awake now because I woke up a few minutes before she did. I am so in tuned with her that I can wake up to care for her even before she makes a peep.

Your thoughts? Ideas? Have you experienced something similar? Different? I’d love a discussion!

Control Over Purchases

This morning, when my daughter and I woke up, I grabbed my iPhone and scanned my latest Tweets. My husband, Michael, doesn’t often tweet, so I was surprised to see one at all today. But the content was as follows:

“No sense in being greedy. I have to control my purchases, even free things. I already have something that will work, no need for more junk.”

Now, as much as I love and adore him, Michael’s tweets are not normally so, shall we say, deep. The one before that came around Christmas, and said, “Why don’t you take me to Turkey Town?” So this one really caught me off guard. So when I knew he’d be on break, I sent him a text message asking him what the story was behind his insightful tweet.

He responded, “I saw a metronome on freecycle and thought hey, help us to sleep. Then I thought, well we have the ocean sounds [on CD] and several devices to play them on. So why get the metronome when someone else can use it and we don’t really need it.”

I stopped receiving emails from Freecycle weeks ago, because the minimalist in me can easily be drowned out by the frugalist in me, and can see the free items as “a great bargain”. Needless to say, I was acquiring far too much junk. Instead, I left the offers up to my far more discerning husband and I only request or offer items now. Freecycle is a fantastic program, and it easily has prevented a multitude of things from ending up in the landfills. But for me, it’s just too tempting.

It was so refreshing to hear his thoughts and know that even though he isn’t attempting minimalism in the same degree as myself, our priorities are the same: we want to create in our home a quiet, peaceful environment without a lot of clutter and chaos, where we can focus on what makes us happy.

If you’re interested in any further pearls of wisdom from my Beloved, you can find him on Twitter under @iamjacksnick.

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!