Taking two weeks off due to baby bday and Fourth of July holiday! Wheee! Family in town, parties and more. Be back shortly.


week fifteen: gift wrap “station”

This is one of those stupid things I purchased after getting married that I thought was required for our house. A hanging-on-the-door gift wrap organizer. You know, for all of those presents I wrap constantly. Look! Four rolls of paper from Big Lots! Plus a spool of ribbon! They need a home. And not just boxed up with the Christmas stuff – that would be too logical. They need a special wrapping-paper-designated organizer. Perhaps one I hang on a doorknob – because that’s just what I need on my office door, a fucking plastic garment bag with cheap wrapping paper tumbling out of it whenever I enter the room. WTF is wrong with me?

This has had a few homes over the years. Hanging off my office door. Hanging off the door in the guest room. Hanging off a hook in the garage. Hanging off a ladder in the garage. Hanging off the door in the soon-to-be-baby playroom. I kept moving it when husband ran into it or the dogs sniffed at it to see if it was something they should pee on.

Over the weekend it was hanging in the garage (This time off some plywood! What a great spot for my gift wrap organizer!) and baby kept grabbing at it when we went outside. He knocked it on the ground twice, then I was all like “Fuck this shit! I don’t need no gift wrappin station no more!” (I said it in my head, lest you worry about me cursing in front of baby.)

I decided to forgo Christmasy wrapping paper from now on. I have a bigass roll of kraft butcher paper in my office I use for packaging up some products I sell. Last year I wrapped a few gifts in it, using cute stamps to decorate the paper. It’s one of the few craft projects I can actually do, as it’s quick, fun and easy with very limited set up and clean up. This Christmas maybe baby can even help, if he stops trying to eat everything he gets his grubby little mitts on.

So this Christmas, we’ll be a little more like this under the tree:

You know, sans the stupid top hat as a star (???). Also, I’ll go out on a limb here and say we will probably NOT put a fucking tumbleweed in our fireplace either. But you get the gist. Butcher paper plus some cute ribbon and maybe some stamping fun. Much better than the garment bag clotting up my doorways. Hurray!

week fourteen: the birthday party

My little baby is almost one. I won’t bore you with the requisite “Oh my gawd how time flies,” or the “I can’t believe it’s been a year!” shit. You know that when you get old time goes fast. Add a baby into the mix and it whooshes by at breakneck pace. He’s a year. It went quickly. Yep.

I’m excited for baby’s first birthday. Celebrating this milestone with friends and family sounds fun. The in-laws are flying in from Texas for the event. Husband’s business partner is bringing his family. About 28 people from my side are coming. It’s kinda the hip place to be this June.

And when I started planning this party, all I could think of was the ridiculous pile of shit I was bound to be saddled with after this event.

I’m hosting somewhere around 40 people. I didn’t invite them to get stuff for baby – I invited them because we’re having a picnic in the summertime, and the more the fuckin merrier, amiright? I just want a fun get-together, play pass the baby a bit and eat a chocolate cupcake. I don’t want the “gift table.”

Any time you throw a kid’s birthday party, there’s always the gift table, overflowing with toys, clothes and little kid shit all wrapped up in shiny paper and glossy bags. At some point during the party, people start getting all present itchy and then it’s time to sit baby down and have him open a bunch of stuff. This tradition, particularly with such a young child, seems really fucking strange to me.

Don’t get me wrong – of course I think it’s sweet and nice and thoughtful to give a child a gift for their birthday. But does my baby need 40 new things? Do I want him sitting in a sea of shiny new stuff, learning that getting shit is what his birthday is all about? Is it vital to his happiness that he receives more toys in one day than some children ever see in a lifetime?

No. No he doesn’t. No I don’t. No it isn’t.

Baby is going to be fighting against commercialism and stuff acquisition for decades to come. Right now – in these early years – is the time for simplicity. To try and instill as much as possible an appreciation for the things we have, and a contentedness in knowing that what we have is enough.

So I figured out that I didn’t want stuff. But how to pass that along to all of the invitees without sounding like a:

1. Holier than thou beeyatch (“although your plebeian son may enjoy childish toys, my son shan’t be accepting your low-brow gifts!”)

2. Annoying controlling mom (“only four of you pay attention to my Amazon wishlist and the rest of you jerks will bring age-inappropriate toys that baby will choke on so fuck off!”)

3. Dirty hippie idiot (“the man is controlling baby’s mind via Elmo, so we’ll only be accepting natural gifts, like leaves and Trader Joe’s granola bars.”)

Well, I wasn’t sure – but a post I read on the Minimalist Mom’s blog on minimalist birthday parties for kids gave me an idea. She detailed a “Toonie” party, a Canadian trend in kids’ parties. The basic idea is that party guests, in lieu of gifts, bring the kid one or two “toonies.” (BTW – A toonie is a $2 coin in Canada.) After the party, the kid can go pick out something he’d like with his pocket full of coins. How cool is that?!

I decided that was the strategy for us. Of course, we don’t have any cool coins here in the States – I mean I guess we have that damn Sacagawea $1 coin but I never see them out in circulation and when you try and spend them at the 7-11 the clerk gets all confused like you handed him Monopoly money. A one-dollar bill seemed lame, so I went with a five-dollar bill.

I had also read online about some toonie parties being a split pot of sorts. Each guest would bring two toonies, and the kid donated half and kept half. I liked that idea, and I like the thought of baby picking a charity each year to support. You know, teaching him the world is bigger than himself, that sort of shit. So that’s the plan. This year, husband and I will pick the charity, I’m thinking Heifer or Toys for Tots.

I’m sure some people will ignore our request, and that’s cool. But if their gift gets donated after the party I won’t feel too bad about it. It’ll probably be the same people who never read their emails all the way through and also forget to RSVP. But that’s why you bring extra sandwiches, you know? Because even though those people annoy the shit out of you, you still have to invite them. Haha! Just kidding.

Not really.

week thirteen: diffusion

“you know how these things start… One guy tells another guy something, then he tells two friends, and they tell two friends, and they tell their friends, and so on, and so on…”

This minimalism thing is catching on.

I recently showed my blog to a few friends and family. And, in turn, they have started to rethink their stuff. Donating the things they no longer want or use. Tossing the old magazines they never have time to read through. Avoiding impulse purchases and taking the time to decide if a product is something they’ll love, or just something that will take up space in their home and life.

It’s often the best ideas that spread so quickly, so easily. Even so, it’s awesome to see the small changes I have been making (that were influenced by others) start affecting those close to me as well. It’s like a minimalism version of pay it forward.

And just so you don’t think I fell off the wagon this week, here’s a list of all the shit I’ve done over the past several days. Lots of smaller things, but they add up!

1. Washed and put away “the towel.” What is this, you ask? Well, when I went into labor (don’t worry, this doesn’t get gross), husband and I stayed home as long as possible. One thing we tried was a bath. In movies and TV shows, laboring mamas always look so serene in bathtubs. They breathe slowly and rub their bellies and are all “ooohhh this bath feels sooo good.” Huh. The bath didn’t really work too well for me. It turns out all I wanted was husband to knead my back as hard as possible, to the point where his hands stopped working. In any event, I had left the post-bath towel hanging in the guest shower. For eleven months. I’m not sure what my attachment to it has been – I guess it just reminded me of that night. I probably would have left it hanging there for a while longer, but the fat dog got stuck outside in the sprinklers and froze up, not knowing where to run and ended up soaked. “The towel” was the only thing I had handy to dry him off with. And once it smelled like dirty fat poodle… well, the magic was gone.

2. Donated about 50 old records. We listen to records almost exclusively (I know, how fucking annoying are we?) and buy up dollar vinyl at estate sales. Unfortunately when we started we knew next to nothing about what we were buying and ended up with lots of records that suck (Tijuana Taxi, a promotional album put out by Weinerschnitzel in the late sixties, comes to mind) or moldy slabs with old people dust all over them. Husband got into the mix and edited a bunch out of our collection. Saweet.

3. Sold more shit. Cloth diapers that baby never liked too much, more old lady figurines and the Wacom tablet I purchased ($350!!!)  but never, ever used. Moron! At least I got some decent cash for my idiocy.

4. Found a taker for some ginormous baby gear we no longer need. The bonus? It’s a friend of mine, so I’ll be able to borrow it back if/when baby #2 arrives in the hopefully not-too-distant future.

Whatchoo bitches been doin?! Have you noticed minimalism spreading n your little corner of the world, too?