Category Archives: Everything Else

#momgoals and re-learning

We are taught as kids that we should have high lofty goals for our careers and futures. We are encouraged to “reach for the stars”. You can be anything you want to be and do anything you want to do! If you work hard you can succeed. Awesome, right? The American dream is still alive today!

Yet once we start a family, we are bombarded with a completely different message:
“Find a new comfort zone.”
“Survival mode is normal, and lasts for 18 years.”
“Lower your standards.”
“Your house will never be clean again”
“If you’re sleep-deprived, nutrient-robbed and have no time to yourself, you are doing it right”.

Part of being a parent is realizing that it may not be possible to reach your goals (or that the ultimate goal of nurturing a family is more important than some personal goals we may have). A lot of my “progress” as a mom for the first few years was basically making peace with lowering my own standards. (I am a natural perfectionist and I do struggle with pride). After all, moms can’t have it all (indeed, no one can). Houses will be messy, bedtimes will be late, meals will be torture. That’s what we learn as a mom.

What if all of that is a distortion of the truth?

First, let’s look back on America’s generations before us, say pre-WW2 and earlier. How was parenting different back then? I’m sure there were lots of differences but just a couple stand out immediately to me. First, there was a supportive family structure in place for most young families. Parents were more likely to be living close to Aunts, Uncles, and Grandparents. It was normal and accepted that the “village” would help in child-rearing. Not to mention, most parents were simply not spread as thin between career and family.

Secondly, consumerism hadn’t taken hold of our culture. Instead of being bombarded with empty advertisements and sometimes dangerous “health” tips from a corrupt pharmaceutical industry, parents would get advice, for the most part, from the previous generation and raise their children accordingly. I can only assume there was less guilt and pressure for the most part…was the neighbor silently judging you over your fence as pervasive as the ever-present “mom wars” are today? I imagine not.

Now, I have to say right here that I understand that the above is dramatically over-simplified. I try not to look back on America’s history with rose-colored glasses, although I do sometimes feel envious of the simplicity of the past. I do know that social patterns are far more nuanced than I am describing and I have not researched these statements. Still, I think the two points stand: for the most part, there was a closer extended family unit and individuals were not bombarded with commercial messages and a corporate agenda to the extent we are now.  So how does that affect the way we approach our lives as parents?

I used to think I wasn’t exactly affected by commercialism. Because I never picked up the phone to order from an infomercial, I didn’t subscribe to popular magazines, and I wasn’t likely to buy the latest thing from the mall. It’s only since I have started to work toward minimalism that I realized I was affected by commercialism in a far more subtle way.

I truly and sometimes literally bought the idea that MORE was better and that success was defined by a large house, plenty of amenities, disposable income, and carefree consumerism. This is hard to admit,  because my own family has always been frugal and thrifty and in so many ways challenged the status quo. For me this dichotomy translated into a bargain-hunting version of shopaholic lifestyle. So I would try to emulate the lifestyle of excess in a second-hand, clearance rack, bargain basement way. It worked pretty well, I was able to find most of the latest and greatest at a fraction of retail. But I missed the fact that I was still buying the lie. 

More stuff doesn’t make us happier. It didn’t make me happier and it won’t make you happier. For most of us, more stuff, better stuff, nicer stuff and upgraded stuff does not make our existence easier or life burdens easier to bear. It simply adds more chaos, noise, and confusion to an already complicated existence. And it perpetuates this dangerous lie to our children that collections and accumulation leads to a better life. I am working hard to end this deception in our home and I know our lives will be better for it.

Are you ready to make a change? Read more about our journey to Minimalism. 

The Ultimate Guide to Rock-Painting

Welcome to the world of rock painting! My family is new to this hobby but we are happy to share what we’ve learned so far and hope you will comment with any ideas or products you’ve had success with!

First of all, if you haven’t heard much about rock painting or wonder what exactly we are talking about, check out this week’s article from Martha Stewart!

If you’ve followed my blog at all, you know I am pursuing minimalism with a passion, and consequently I’m pretty choosy about starting new hobbies or collections. Rock painting fits PERFECTLY into the minimalism lifestyle. The best part of this hobby is that the art is shared instead of hoarded, and each rock is created to be a blessing to the community. I love that!

So let’s get to the specifics of rock painting, are you ready? Here is what you will need:

Rocks: “River Rocks” are usually what you want, because the surface will be nice and smooth to apply paint or markers. The Dollar Tree sells small bags of smooth black rocks that work well and are an easy way to start out. I’m looking for a good local source currently. These rocks on Amazon look like a good price for the weight. 

Paint: Most acrylic paint should work fine for painting rocks. We used whatever we have on hand for solid colors including craft paint, spray paint and leftover paint samples from the hardware store. My daughters can free-hand well with fine paintbrushes; but for someone like me, (who is artistically challenged) I needed something more user friendly. Which is why we ordered markers…

Markers: These markers by Uni-Posca are AMAZING for rocks! The color is so vibrant, the tip perfect for fine details and it’s pretty quick drying as well. The colors even layer well, with just a brief drying in between. This makes it easy to draw and write on even the smallest rocks.

Rock ID tag: If you are part of our Facebook page, you will want to tag your rock so that it can be shared and re-shared. Click here to download the labels for free! (For smaller rocks these will need to be trimmed to size).

Sealing Spray: The most important step is to waterproof your rocks before you leave them out in the weather. There are lots of clear spray products that will work for this, such as Mod Podge Spray or Krylon Clear Coat Spray. A few light coats should do the trick. You will be ready to hide just as soon as these have dried!

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. 

 

Friday Favorites March Edition

It’s been a while since I have done a Friday Favorites, but I do a have a few new fun things that we are loving lately. Things have been super busy for work and homeschooling and my personal blogging has been put on the back burner, but I don’t want to leave it there! I only have a few minutes to create this post, so let’s get right to it. This post will contain affiliate links for your convenience! Don’t worry, it’s not all stuff!

Organic Mascara: I asked for this Organic Mascara (Endlessly Beautiful) for Christmas and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a bit pricey for me, but I have a really hard time with mascara irritating my eyes and have tried many brands. This is a nice, basic black mascara that is by far the gentlest I have found (better than Neutrogena, Almay, and Physician’s Formula). This doesn’t have some of the amazing features of drug-store brands (no extra crazy length or super waterproof coating) but it goes on nicely and stays well. Mostly, I am happy that I am not rubbing it off, so if you have sensitive eyes, I would recommend it.

The God-Centered Mom PodcastI’m ridiculously late to the Podcast Party, but I’ve recently been catching up and mostly choosing minimalist topics. But my friend recommended The God-Centered Mom Podcast and it’s been fantastic. The handful of episodes I have listened to have been incredibly thought-provoking and relevant to where I am right now as a Christian mom and wife! I am still processing the last episode I heard about “Smiling Depression”. If you have ever struggled with shame or perfectionism I think this will really interest you. Thanks Susan for letting me know about The God-Centered Mom!

A Streamlined wardrobe. I am loving my simplified wardrobe. I have not made the transition to a true capsule wardrobe. However, I am trying to move in that direction slowly, with practical steps. I have cleaned out my closet in phases so that after each purge my clothing becomes more “me”, more simple, and more functional. I’m loving it. I have been forcing myself to experiment with monochromatic choices and it has been surprisingly helpful. Just another way of cutting out decision fatigue in my life! Specifically, I purchased a couple of these soft and comfy tees in grey and black and have been wearing them weekly. 

Just one purse. I had no idea the bags I owned were really complicating my life until I got rid of them. I knew that I had neck and back issues so I decided to eliminate all of my heavy bags (even though they tend to be *nicer*: Goodbye to my lovely leather Michael Kors tote!). Also, I realized the patterned bags were just to difficult to match (Vera Bradley, I’m looking at you). Plus switching bags by mood or color was causing the clutter to build up and receipts to become lost. Guess what? I don’t miss those bags a bit! I received a lightweight Thirty-One hipster for my birthday last summer and have used it every day. Recently, I decided to make one more handbag purchase keeping in mind my vow for embracing neutrals: the Houndstooth print Kava rope bag. The compartments of this bag have taken me a little time to get used to, but I LOVE how light and comfortable it is. It feels almost strangely light on my back compared to a shoulder bag with the same contents! It’s obviously a casual bag, but it was time for me to admit that 99.99% of my time I am dressing casually, and HELLO!? there is nothing wrong with that!

Our evening routine: For the first time as a mom, I feel like our evenings (and mornings for the most part) are truly productive and we have formed actual habits instead of forcing ourselves through painful routines that just never became second-nature. Although I can’t completely explain how this process has been crystallized I will tell you it has 100% been about simplicity and mindfulness and all began by eliminating excess in every room of our home. Just embracing the idea that motherhood does not have to be a series of complete failures and looking for actual solutions to the problems has been revolutionary for me! It has become blissfully simple to leave our house neat each morning and go to bed with everything (at least in the living areas) in their proper place. I will try to blog more about this later! Right now, I just really intend this to be an encouragement. As moms, sometimes we don’t need to hear over and over: “it’s normal, everyone struggles like this, don’t strive for perfection”. Sometimes we need to hear, “Being a mom is hard. Look for the best way to succeed as a mom and work for it”. That’s what I am telling myself from now on.

Ellie HolcombMusic used to be a huge part of my day…. when I had my days virtually to myself. Now there is so much NOISE that I often hesitate to add to the audible clutter by turning on anything. But I realized that I missed inspirational Christian music, so I was pulling out my old CDs from the 90’s. Then a friend on facebook suggested Ellie Holcomb (thank you Rebecca!) and I have got to tell you that I AM HOOKED. She has a beautiful voice and a wonderful message that I really relate to. Here is one of her music videos, but I have been listening to Ellie for free using Spotify! Click here for her Album Red Sea Road.

That’s it for now! Have a wonderful weekend!

SnoSpice Review!

As a blogger, I get a lot of comments and solicitation to my email address, but sometimes I get really cool start-up companies offering to send free stuff. And when those products involve ice cream, you know it’s going to be good. Thank you Brett from SnoSpice for sending us these yummy flavors for free and giving us a chance to review them!

SnoSpice Ice Cream Infusions were created to add fresh flavors to vanilla ice cream. All natural, no sugars, and vegan and lactose free; these are perfect for so many diets and best of all, Made in the USA (yes!!!)!

Directions: Sprinkle on ice cream, Stir and Enjoy! Ya’ll know recently I’ve been working on minimalism and one of the concepts I have really tried to adopt is carefully choosing products that are high quality and also serve multiple purposes. That means limiting spices and condiments as well for the sake of simplicity and space. So at first I thought perhaps these specialty ice cream spices wouldn’t quite fit into my cupboard. However, after testing them out I have found great uses for recipes far beyond ice cream. Yep, these flavor mix-ins are keepers for sure. Here are just a few of my ideas for spicing up your diet with SnoSpice!

*Homemade Banana Cream: This is a recipe my kids adore and it is amazing how deliciously smooth and creamy it is with only two ingredients: frozen bananas and milk! I can’t wait to try SnoSpice as an extra little kick to give us some different flavor options!

*Smoothies: We make smoothies ALL the time in our Vitamix and absolutely love trying different flavors. SnoSpices will be perfect for adding a little extra “something” to these healthy combos, especially since we try to keep added sugar very low.

*Gourmet Oatmeal: I’ve talked before about how much we love our oatmeal (check out one of my favorite recipes of all time here). I buy a HUGE carton at Costco and keep our pantry stocked at all times. The secret is adding a nice scoop of butter and whole milk; I promise you will never feel the same about oatmeal again. At this very moment, my Instant Pot is full of raisin oatmeal that my son flavored using Cinnamon for Optimists. We will definitely be using the other SnoSpice flavors in the future for our breakfasts!

Dairy-free Desserts: When I was breast-feeding my son, I had to cut out dairy, soy, grains and eggs. For awhile it felt like fruit and veggies were all I was eating and boy did I miss ice cream. I did finally find delicious coconut ice cream but the flavors were super limited. SnoSpice would have been perfect to “spice up” the vanilla and add some variety to an already pared down diet!

Fried Apples: I happened to be making this delicious copy cat recipe of Cracker Barrel’s fried apples (totally recommend, by the way). Instead of plain cinnamon, I added Cinnamon for Optimists as well as a few shakes of Lemon+Basil. These apples were a huge hit for the whole family and my husband told me to ditch my apple pie recipe and just use this dessert as filling in my homemade crust!

*Coffee stir-ins: Confession: I am addicted to coffee and am trying to break my equally strong addiction to coffee creamers. In effort to simplify my diet and cut out extra chemicals, I have been sticking with sugar and half & half. It turns out I absolutely love the Pumpkin Carriage SnoSpice for coffee! I am not usually a huge pumpkin fan but this is delicious without having that artificial taste and it helps me cut back on calories by adding less sugar.

*Soups: last week I made Meatball Tortellini Soup from Great Food Fast in our Instant Pot. I used homemade bone broth from a good ole’ Costco rotisserie chicken and seasoned it with Lemon+Basil SnoSpice. Let me just say, this was the best version of this recipe we’ve made and it just might be because of the SnoSpice.

*Ice Cream: My entire family (four year old, ten year olds, hubby and me) really enjoyed stirring these flavors into vanilla ice cream. The children all loved Pumpkin Carriage the best, but surprisingly enough Lemon+Basil was my favorite! It’s the best of citrus plus sweet plus a little something else (obviously, the basil!). It’s nothing I ever would have thought to try but I can’t wait to taste it again. My husband preferred the Cinnamon for Optimists. Honestly, Turmeric’d was the only we tried that wasn’t a big hit for us, however, I am still very interested in using it in different recipes to take advantage of the health value I keep hearing about!

SnoSpice sent me their products to try out for free,  but this review is 100% honest and written by me. Thanks, SnoSpice!

Happy New Year

I am feeling very optimistic about 2017 for our family. I feel so grateful for the blessings of 2016 and I can truly say that I feel more at peace than I have in a long time about attacking this coming year.

If I had really been on the ball with blogging, I would have a series of posts lined up to greet the new year. A minimalist challenge, a meal planning calendar, a homeschooler’s guide to getting through winter.

If I were on the ball, I would be hosting a giveaway, sharing DIY essential oil projects, and working on my Instant Pot Recipe ebook (this book does not exist, except in my imagination).

Instead, I am catching up on sleep. I am cuddling my kiddos. I am putting away holiday decor with more excitement and glee than I have ever had in opening a gift. I am staring at my new planner with stars in my eyes, imagining what the next year could be. I’m making lists and I’m taking my time. I’m thinking about a theme word to guide my year. (I’m considering the word savor. Kind of weird but it jumped out at me. Any thoughts?).

A dear friend asked me what happened to push me towards minimalism. I can’t exactly put my finger on when the change happened. As I rebranded my blog in the spring, I renewed my passion for writing, shifted my efforts away from looking for deals and began searching for my niche as a writer. But the significant change happened somewhere in between my Target boycott and when I started researching ethical shopping practices. In the midst of the busy everyday of parenting and life, I was crying out to God, asking Him for direction. I was so tired of being so overwhelmed and feeling like such a failure as a wife and mother. I begged God to show me another way.

God answered me very clearly by saying, “Stop valuing stuff”.

Soon after that moment, I read the article “How Getting Rid of Stuff Saved My Motherhood” by Allie Casazza and I knew that this was my answer. My answer was minimalism, and next I had to find out how to become it myself. I then began reading furiously everything I could find on the topic and spending every spare moment emptying our home and studying minimalism as if my sanity and survival depended on it.

In this process, we have filled and emptied both cars many many times. Boxes of donations, from furniture, clothing, gadgets. Tons of papers have been recycled or shredded. We’ve pared down, and pared again, and realized we still aren’t done. We’ve parted ways with items both sentimental and senseless. We’ve worked hard, we’ve had a few moments of panic and we’ve seen the holidays come and go with less chaos than usual.

So that brings me to today, January 4th 2017. I’m still tired and overwhelmed. We haven’t finished the process, there is so much more to do. But I am so hopeful and can’t wait to see what this year brings. Here’s to 2017!

MORE Last minute deals!

I wanted to share a few things I will be giving as Christmas gifts as well as some great ideas I am still considering (two more days of prime shipping for Christmas delivery!). As always, I’ll be linking with my affiliate links, which gives me a very small percentage if you choose to purchase at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Chasing Santee!

I was looking for another building toy that would be fun for all three kids and I was hoping for something a little more versatile than legos. I actually think I found a winner! These snowflake builders are only $12.99 for a pack of 500 and have great reviews.

Next up, I was looking for an organic tinted lip balm for myself and possibly the girls and I found this four pack from Sky Organics. Good reviews, the colors are nice and they are on sale for $10.95!

Now here is something cool/weird/interesting that I stumbled across when browsing Amazon. Stainless steel soap. That’s right, a “bar” made of stainless steel that removes odors. Reviewers claim to use it for everything from kitchen smells like garlic, onions, and fish to body odor in the shower! I browsed reviews on multiple listings and apparently it works because of negative ions…..or something like that. I’m definitely going to order this sooner or later, it’s an add-on item for only $4.24. If anyone has experience with stainless steel odor removers, please let me know!

I have been wanting one of these ever since I first saw them and I think it’s such a useful smart idea. It’s a simple cuff bracelet in silver, rose or gold and it’s a cute way to carry a hair tie along with you without it cutting off your circulation! Cute, right? Only $10 each. 

I’ve mentioned this game before, but it’s such a fun, simple, portable game that I have to share it again! Monopoly Deal is only $4.70 as an add-on item. 

If your kids’ dearest wish for Christmas is to have a snowball fight (they’ve got a snowball’s chance in hell for a white Christmas here in SC), they will LOVE these soft but squishy snowballs that are great for chunking at each other. These are way more fun than I ever would have expected! The price is a little steep, but just remember how much money we save by living in the warm south.

One of our dear friends gifted this cute infinity scarf kit to my girls and they love them! They both learned the technique really quickly and they liked that it came with a drawstring bag for carrying the project around.

That’s all for now, please share any gift ideas, especially for the guys as that’s

The Nightmare before Christmas

I have a “nightmare” that repeats around Christmas every year. Usually in early December I have a dream that it is somehow January and I have missed Christmas altogether. This is something I have legitimately dreamed multiple times during the holidays. I wake up feeling so sad, and then relieved, kind of like Scrooge in a Christmas Carol, realizing that I still have time to make the holidays count. This year I haven’t dreamed the dream. Maybe because I am working towards a more meaningful holiday? I am pretty sure it’s totally random but it is kind of funny to me that my first “minimalist Christmas” I have yet to have this “bad dream”. I want to be able to enjoy and participate in Christmas without my to-do and to-buy lists sucking up all my time. So far, so good. But on the other hand, I have yet to purchase a single Christmas present this year, which means there is definitely panic in my future.

 

 

What’s in my Amazon Cart and mini-victories

I just churned out three posts for BargainBabe but I still can’t neglect my sweet spot here. I just have a few things to share but let me first say that a couple weeks ago I read The More of Less by Joshua Becker and it is incredibly positive and inspiring. (If you read Marie Kondo and thought that woman was spookily animistic, depressing and kind of in need of psychiatric help, you need to read this.) I just can’t say enough good things. I connected so much to this version of minimalism, with a greater purpose in mind.

moreofless

It’s only $1.99 on Kindle (back to $11.99, so sorry but still totally recommendable) so now is the moment! What’s more minimal than a digital copy, anyway? I still think the book is worth reading at $11.99 but I would probably suggest the library instead unless you are dying to spend the money. I will be watching for more deals on this!

Have we talked about capsule wardrobes? Sometimes I get confused about which blog I posted what in, but in case we haven’t touched on this, Courtney Carver does a fantastic job of explaining this with Project 333. I was fascinated to learn that Courtney delved into her first wardrobe challenge as she was re-vamping her entire lifestyle. Her ultimate goal was to cut the stress out of her life in order to help treat a chronic illness. I thought this was so interesting, as many of the articles you read on capsule wardrobes seem to be fixated on hunting down the perfect items to satisfy an arbitrary scavenger hunt of “necessary” pieces. I love that her perspective was so different and practical. Finding the perfect wool pencil skirt is not part of this equation. Making your closet a functional, simple and stress-free part of your life is.

qtq80-j9Od1k

I’m not ready to go to a true capsule wardrobe, because I really don’t want to perform a complete purge and also frankly right now I am not at my ideal weight or shape. But I am looking at making purchases with much more precision and thought. Towards that end, I’m very interested in a brand I recently noticed on Amazon because the pieces are exactly in line with my style, very inexpensive, and also made in America! I feel like it is probably too good to be true, so if anyone has any feedback on this please fill me in. The brand is FRUMOS; please let me know what you think!

I do have a few minimalist victories to share for this week. Because our progress hasn’t been incredibly speedy, I sometimes forget that things are becoming steadily better. Packing for an out of town trip, reminds me that YES we are getting there. This was our easiest car trip, even down to leaving the house completely picked up and ready to return to. Small victory, yes, but I am grateful. Thanksgiving was delightful.

I used to go shopping all the time. Multiple times a week. Sometimes every day. Things are different now and last weekend I had a list of returns and ISO items that needed to be fulfilled (actually needed, like allergy covers for the girls’ beds after a recent diagnostic test and shoes for my rapidly growing 10 year olds.) We went shopping as a family and I was able to find the needed items and purchase them with store credit. It was so nice to be able to focus and not be distracted by a gnawing urge to consume aimlessly. We found all the needed items and didn’t bring home a single thing that wasn’t on our list. A different sense of satisfaction than the brief thrill of bargain hunting, but it felt good.

I used to have a big, stocked gift closet with items for almost any occasion, but I have been minimizing it as steadily as possible. This week I was able to use several of the items as gifts and I think they are really going to be used and enjoyed by the recipients. As more items are disappearing from my once plentiful stock, I feel lighter and gain a closet back!

Also, a brief mention of Black Friday: we went out for the morning because my hubby and I had the opportunity to spend a little time together sans kids. (Rare, oh so rare). We had a nice romantic breakfast at Waffle House (because coffee and waffles without kids is poetry to my heart) and shopped a few stores. We found nothing of particular interest and I felt a strangely pleasant casual detachment from the entire process. Although we enjoyed talking and planning a bit for the holidays as we walked around and having fun with each other without having to answer 21 questions from the four year old, there was no NEED to spend.

spire

One last thing in my Amazon cart: I am super intrigued by the Spire, a new-ish fitness monitor that claims to improve your breathing and anxiety. Anyone have experience with this? I’m pretty tempted to try it. If it was wrist worn, I wouldn’t hesitate, but I’m concerned it might be problematic for me to wear. Any feedback?

Well, that’s all for now. This is the kind of post that I throw together after being away from the blog for too long, so I apologize for the random collection of thoughts. I hope your Thanksgiving Weekend is peaceful and sweet!

November days

Hello, Daylight Savings Sunday and Writer’s Block.

There is plenty to say, but I’m kind of tired of trying to say it. I’m numbed with anxiety over the election. Praying for health for my family. Feeling like the “stuff” is a mountain I can’t conquer. Realizing I’m behind on things I’ve barely even acknowledged are on my to-do list. Feeling disconnected from my friends. Missing my brother who is getting married this week far away from me.

Isaiah 54:10
“‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, still my love for you will not be shaken, nor my covenant of peace be removed’, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”

God is in control. He always will be. He holds our country in His hand. He knows the outcome, He knows the needs, He knows the questions and the answers.  He is good all the time.

Step 3: Attack Problems

This is Step 3 of the Simplify Your Life Challenge! This is a general outline of the steps I am taking with my family to simplify our life and become more minimalist. If you haven’t seen them, please click through to Step 1 and Step 2 for more details!

Step 3: Attack Problems

This is where the rubber meets the road, guys. Prepare yourself, because this step is crucial and you can’t back down. This is the time to really recognize the “issues” your family struggles with and be totally honest with yourself. This is the step that will mainly focus on attitudes and how we approach parenting, and less on physical action. (Which means it could be the most difficult step of all). Keep reading, this is an important part of simplifying your life!

To attack the problems, you first need to recognize (or admit!) what they are. I made a list of some of our “problems” that I wanted desperately to address. I tried to stick to broad, overlying issues that were affecting our family’s “big picture”. This isn’t a time to list every petty complaint you have about your spouse or children, but a time to think about what small changes could make a monumental difference in the atmosphere of your home.

eliminatingexcess

Attitude & Chores:

I’m so sure that we are the only family ever to struggle with children who don’t want to do chores, right? That’s not a common issue at all! (heavy sarcasm) I was frustrated because there was constant competition between the twins with sharing the workload and almost complete belligerence from my four year old son when it came to simple tasks.
(Like, “Go wash your hands”. “No”.  Seriously? You’ve had to do this multiple times a day your whole life. You really want to fight this?! )
I knew we needed a smooth and full proof system, so I started asking friends and working on solutions.

Attitude & School:

How shocking that the second category was also related to attitude! (Perhaps, next I need to tackle the personal problem of excessive sarcasm). My older girls have the complex challenge of being identical twin girls who are also sharing the first-born role and descended from two high-stress strong (stubborn?) personality parents. Don’t you just feel like weeping for them? Seriously, I am fully convinced that my three children are going to do truly great things one day, but for now, where is the balance between loving them where they are and addressing pride issues that arise from chronic perfectionism? This has been one of the main difficulties with homeschooling and one I am fairly certain will persist in challenging me.

Attitude of Entitlement

Noticing a trend? I must begin by saying that this a family issue (well, I won’t blame my husband but I do fully implicate myself) not just something the kids deal with. Despite our very blessed life, we are all finding it difficult to have gratitude and temper our entitled expectations. I’m pretty sure this is also a universal issue among humans (and particularly Americans) but does that mean we should just accept it?

 

I will probably create more detailed posts about what we have done to improve the three areas above, but for now I will just promise you that the more you simplify your life, routines and living space, the easier it will be to actually deal with problems.

ChasingSantee2

I want to treat parenting like my life’s mission field, which means taking this job seriously and not allowing the mundane tasks of unloading the dishwasher and washing the clothes to take the place of the true battlefield that is parenting. This is about so much more than cooking and cleaning and carpools! This is about shaping the next generation and responding to God’s call on my life to glorify Him as a mom. For me, all the stuff has kept me from my calling….and I refuse to allow that to happen any more. I don’t think that minimalism is the cure to every ailment, but in my life it is making a profound difference.

Before I started down the minimalism path I felt so overwhelmed all the time that discipline issues came down to the quickest possible end to whatever was currently disturbing the peace. I had trouble actually addressing the root of problems. The more I simplify, the easier it is to focus on the big issues. We’re a work in progress, for sure, but at last I finally feel like the progress is moving forward!

I encourage you to ask yourself, what is preventing you from fulfilling your calling? What is keeping you from the greater good? Is it stuff, or commitments, or money, or work, or debt? Is it selfishness, jealousy, or pride?

 

Minimalism Journey Ramblings

When I re-branded my blog a few months ago, I wasn’t 100% sure where my posts would take me. I knew that I wanted to write and that I loved connecting with others through blogging. I was determined that this blog wouldn’t fade into the past (like so many have before), and that I would stick with this project. I painstakingly chose the title “Chasing Santee” after a place that is incredibly dear to my heart. I wrote the tagline “sweet and simple things of life” because I knew that’s where my heart was and where I hoped to take the blog. At that moment, though, I had no idea how I would get there or where Chasing Santee would lead.

At the time, I felt like my “niche” was shopping and finding deals. It had been such a big part of my life and a hobby I had enjoyed for a very long time. It was something I was good at, which I sometimes admitted sheepishly. I didn’t really love the fact that my talent was tied so closely to material things, and really didn’t line up with my personal values.  Even though it didn’t perfectly mesh with the “simple things”, I kept sharing the deals as I hunted them down. This was what my audience wanted, I assumed. This was what I enjoyed?

In an unanticipated metamorphosis I could hardly follow, I began to realize my perspective was changing. Slowly, at first, then much more akin to a rock slide, I began to reject some of the ideas I had been repeating to myself for years. “That purchase will make my life easier”. “This system will improve our day to day struggles”. “If only I had __________ I could better enjoy ____________.” I started to feel like I was finally waking up from a hazy dream where I just wasn’t seeing clearly. One minute I was stressed, overwhelmed and defeated. The next minute I was committed to becoming a minimalist.I was optimistic and confident. I can hardly imagine a more unexpected change.

When I started the Simplicity Challenge, I really wanted to call it the minimalism challenge. But I felt like that was too drastic, too extreme, and that maybe my readers would doubt my sincerity.  I was afraid to commit, knowing once I typed it in cold hard Helvetica 12, I wouldn’t be able to go back.  It felt like a decision too big for me, almost like moving my entire family across the country. Were we ready for this?

To say my mindset was transformed does not seem like an over-statement. I want to be authentic as a writer, so I truly try to live out my thoughts of changes of direction before writing. So you can know that I have been pondering this for awhile. Is it too much to say that God led me in this direction? Is it off-base to feel that by changing in this way I am closer to the heart of Scripture?

I know that only time will tell or prove that I have experienced a true change of heart. I am in no way preaching, or even suggesting this is the right change for anyone but myself. However, I am stunned at the weight that I have felt lifted in the last month. I never imagined a shift in perspective would change me so much.

If I were a really good blogger, I would have been taking before & after pics and vlogging every day and making tons of posts from each step of this process to help encourage everyone and motivate myself. But the truth is, I’m slamming through this process so quickly the thrift store can hardly keep up with me. I haven’t taken before pictures and I am not ready to post after pictures. I haven’t really made it to the point where I am able to give advice (but I will try anyway). I’m moving so quickly that I am a little dizzy.

My ultimate goal is to get our home to the point that I can photograph every nook and cranny of it. That I can know what we have and where we have it. That I can know the things we have kept are being used or bringing joy to us. That our possessions are actually getting us closer to our goals as a family. That we aren’t being hindered or held back by upkeep and cleaning. I want to be able to open my home at the drop of a hat and not feel that my stuff is in the way of people. Yes, in the past my stuff has been in the way of me fully loving my family and my friends and expressing the love of God to strangers.

Let me repeat this: In the past: jump ropes, crumb-filled toasters, building blocks, dog-eared books, tangles of costume jewelry, scratched CDs, dusty vases, stacks of photos, piles of unworn clothes, all of these THINGS have interfered with my opportunities to LOVE PEOPLE. And my heart is really broken about this.

To be continued

Review: Enso Silicone Rings

Not too long ago, I posted about my difficulty with jewelry and how much I missed wearing my wedding ring. I found a few options that I was interested in trying and Enso Rings was at the top of my list because of their unique designs and beautiful color options. I had high hopes that my sensitive skin might finally be able to tolerate jewelry if I found just the right alternative.

And I couldn’t resist this beautiful Stackable series!! (These beauties are $11.99 each or even cheaper if you buy a bundle!)

enso-rings-stackable-review

When I contacted Enso Rings, they were very responsive (and super nice) and offered to send me a few rings to try out in exchange for my (always 100% honest) review. My shipment arrived very quickly (even for impatient me) and since then I have had two weeks to wear and use my rings.

Spoiler alert: I love them, even more than I imagined I would.

enso-rings

After all, Enso Rings are “rings for active lifestyles” and who is more active than a homeschooling mom of three? (this is a rhetorical question, obviously lots of people are more active; what I mean is: who has to wash their hands more than a homeschooling mom of three? See? I gotcha there.)

enso-rings-stackable-review-4

I want to tell you all the times I have worn my new Enso Rings and been 100% comfortable (even to the point of forgetting I am wearing them): when I washed the dishes, when I washed my hands a million times a day (and that’s every day), when I drove out of town (yes, I would take my wedding band off when driving. It just wasn’t comfortable!), when I pushed a heavy shopping cart all over Costco, when I pushed my son on the swings, when I changed diapers at church, when I played basketball with my kiddos, when I washed all the clothes, when I painted with the 3K class, when I helped my husband with yardwork, when I carried a concrete birdbath (don’t ask!), when I typed a zillion words for my blog, when I lifted weights at the gym (just kidding, I didn’t go to the gym. But if I had, I know these rings would have made it through with no trouble!)

Finally, I have really put these rings to the test these last couple of weeks as I have been hard-core de-cluttering and cleaning every day as part of my Simplicity Challenge!

img_0080

My Enso Rings are so super comfortable and pretty! At this phase of my life, when I am very deliberately shedding the things that caused my stress, these tiny lightweight little rings are like a symbol reminding me of my choice for simplicity and ease. I am so happy to put them on each morning (or even sleep with them since they are so crazy comfy!)! Thank you Enso Rings, for making my life more simple!

Enso Rings is offering free shipping right now and their stackable series is on sale if you are buying multiples!