receiving gifts from others

September 29, 2008

an interesting conversation occurred with my wife last night when she informed that a good family friend of ours had offered to give our 2-year old daughter a large box of hand-me-down toys that her daughter had outgrown. included in the collection is a large-wooden dollhouse. my wife was interested to see how i would respond based on our decision to become minimalist.

as i began to think through what it would mean to bring in a large number of toys, i had a number of questions for my wife.

  1. are the toys something that our daughter will enjoy playing? easy answer – yes. she absolutely loves dolls! that’s her thing – playing with dolls. i can picture the joy on her face already of having a dollhouse to put them in. shame on me if my quest to become minimalist would rob her of that joy.
  2. are the toys something that the other family wants to use to bless our family or just get out of their own house? we all know the family that graciously offers to give you their old treadmill or foosball table – not for the sake of blessing, but for the sake of removing the clutter from their own house. my wife assured me that they were genuinely hoping to bless our family – even to the point that the daughter ran up to her excitedly to tell about the toys that she had picked out for us.
  3. do we have toys that we can remove from our daughter’s current collection to make room for the new ones? absolutely! there are many toys in the toy room that my little girl has outgrown or no longer has an interest in. we will sort out some of those toys and remove them to make room for the new ones.

i can’t wait to see the joy on my daughter’s face when the new dollhouse appears in our toyroom! and i am very grateful for the wonderful family whose generosity will bring her that joy. thank you.

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cheap toys for young children

September 26, 2008

simple mom reminds us all that the newest, flashiest, and most expensive toys on the market are not necessarily the best.  in a recent post, she offered 11 cheap (and free!) toys for young children.  including:

  • egg cartons
  • chalk
  • empty food containers
  • crayons and paper

i found this post significantly timely as i just put away some of my son’s birthday presents that he hasn’t opened yet.  his birthday was in august.  even though he received a number of flashy toys with colorful (and expensive) packaging, he seems to be most content with a baseball bat and ball.  when will we parents ever learn?

i love selling books on ebay. first, it gets them out of my house. second, i like turning my old stuff into money. and third, it’s so easy!

if you have never sold a book on ebay, i highly recommend it. ebay (as a minimalizing technique) can be very time-consuming. taking pictures, writing descriptions, and shipping packages tend to be a hassle for only a $4 profit. but ebay eliminates nearly all the time-consuming hassle when it comes to books.

when selling books, all you need to enter is the isbn number located on the back of most books. ebay automatically registers all the information about the book (title, author, description, etc.) leaving you to enter just a one sentence description and your shipping cost. not to mention, shipping books is easy (one manila envelope, please) and cheap (usps parcel post).

i hopped on ebay today to list some books that i found in my basement. i was surprised to see that ebay is offering a special 5cent listing fee on books until the end of the year. got a shelf full of books (or a box in the basement)? go grab a few popular titles and turn them into cash today (or at least in 5 days…)

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sane minimalism

September 23, 2008

sane minimalism is not a term i would have picked, but i appreciate the thought.

i once taught a seminar on “the personal benefits of serving others.” actually, i called it “the joy is in the serving” which is not all that more catchy now that i see them side-by-side. regardless of the boring title, it was good information and a good seminar. i especially enjoyed teaching it because i really do believe that there is personal joy associated with serving others.

this weekend, we received an opportunity to continue our minimalizing and mix in the personal satisfaction that comes from serving others – both at the same time.

at my son’s bus stop (of all places), my wife struck up a conversation with a lady who volunteers with Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program. they help refugees and immigrants gain personal independence and economic self-sufficiency. the volunteer mentioned the desperate need the organization was having for donated towels, linens, and cookware. knowing that our household (along with most of America) has more towels, linens, and cookware than we need, we offered to help and quickly compiled several boxes of the desired items to be donated.

of all the minimalizing projects that we have done around the house, there seemed to be a special joy associated with this one. the special joy of knowing that our stuff would be going directly to people who need it. there is a satisfaction and sense of purpose that comes from serving others… almost like we’re not truly living unless we’re living for others. look up your local chapter of the USCRI and see what needs your local chapter is experiencing. you just may enjoy minimalizing more than you ever have before.

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celebrating 10,000

September 20, 2008

it wasn’t too long ago so i still remember the conversation vividly. i told my mom that we had decided to become minimalist. she called me back a few minutes later to report that she had talked to my uncle who was intrigued with the notion. he had gone straight to his computerto google “minimalism,” but was dissapointed in the results. he wanted more information. i said to myself, “i’ll give him more information. i’ll start a blog about we’re doing.”

i saw several benefits to starting a blog about our journey to become minimalist:

  1. it would keep us accountable. even if i didn’t know who the readers were, i’d still feel accountable to follow through with the decision to become minimalist because “people are reading.”
  2. it would encourage others. reading about our journey towards this better life would surely encourage other to do the same.
  3. it would serve as an on-line journal. a fun way to look back and see where we’ve come.

as this blog goes over 10,000 hits today. i’m reminded of the many unforseen benefits that have come along with its creation.

  1. i’ve gotten to meet new people – albeit, only digitally. nevertheless, i’ve gotten to meet many like-minded people through the comment sections of the blog. people i never would have met without it.
  2. i’ve been forced to think through minimalism on a deeper level. creating a blog post takes effort. it takes thought to write down what you did, how you did it, and why you did it.
  3. i’ve been encouraged myself. what began as a desire to encourage others has become an encouragement to me. thanks for everyone who has visited and posted comments. they have helped in our journey to become minimalist.

thanks again for stopping by.

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thursday evening is garbage day around my house. knowing that the trash collector and the recycling truck would take away anything i put out on the curb tomorrow, i got to minimalizing as soon as the kids were put to bed.

first, i spent some time in the fridge – i’ve posted about my condiment failure previously (and apparently raised quite a stir with the “condiment table” that i posted just for fun). i got the condiments a bit more under control now.

after the fridge, i went to the basement and continued going through old boxes of memories picking up where i left off. the old boxes of memories always slow me down – as well they should. they are filled with people, events, and places that bring back many memories to relive. and secondly, deciding what to do with the stuff can be very difficult depending on my mood. tonight, i kept more than i should have…

all in all, i ended with 2 large bags of garbage, 2 full containers of recycling, and one small pile of ebay items. magically, when i wake up in the morning, the garbage/recycling will have disappeared forever. the garbage man does bring a certain sense of motivation, doesn’t he?

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