Toy Control

Disclaimer: we still have a play kitchen and some Little People castles, and a wicker basket for stuffed animals, but otherwise here are the bins that I limit the toys to in our sunroom:

IMG_5927

Current categories of bins: Dishes, Food, Little People, Magnetic Blocks, Balls, Figurines, Stackables.

Instead of filling all of the bins that this organizer/shelving unit came with, we decided to eliminate some bins (like more than half of them).  Less to put away.  My husband came up with the categories and labeled them (engineer that he is 🙂 ).  The dishes bin is a bit out of control but most of the time a lot of those items go in the play kitchen so it’s not usually so overflowing.  We have significantly decluttered play food and figurines over the years – really all of the categories.

What do you do to keep the toys ‘under control’? 😉

The influence of one

I had two majors and a minor in college.  That happened in four years because I brought AP Credits from high school, did an internship, did some travel summer trips for credit, etc.  Less wasn’t more for me, and most people, at college.  It was busy busy busy.  Then… I went to work a couple days after graduating, traveled abroad to Spain to start my Masters a couple weeks after that – you get the idea.

I became a Spanish teacher immediately after graduating.  I had double-majored in accounting and Spanish, and had gone on mission trips to Ecuador and really felt like Spanish was where my talents were.  I wasn’t super drawn to the accounting firms – I didn’t want the long hours and I knew that I could get a job there if I needed one, but it wasn’t what I wanted.  I was still finding myself, so-to-speak.

During the years that I taught Spanish, my grandfather (dad’s dad) kept asking me – like, all the time – “what about accounting?”  He really thought that I shouldn’t close the door there.  He thought that I should take advantage of my degree and sit for the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) exam.  Here he is [seated in the middle] with my grandmother and parents [and I am on the left]:

Grandparents

His parents immigrated to the United States from Italy.  His father owned a textile company in Manhattan.  Most of his siblings and he owned their own businesses.  He learned first hand the importance of a good CPA.   My grandfather had a small business and now I help small businesses.  I like having small business clients.  For me they are the heart and soul of our country.  For me this all reminds me of my grandfather.

Everyone’s story is different.  My career hasn’t been a straight path but I feel like I’ve learned a lot along the way, and I wouldn’t change anything – no regrets.  I’m thankful for my grandfather.  Seven years after graduating college I finally became a CPA, and I was thankful that he was alive (in his 90s) when I did.

One person can make a difference.

Why some photos need to be printed

My mom kindly makes a Shutterfly photo album each year for each of my three daughters.  My daughters take these albums in their hands and talk about them.  I don’t want them looking at a phone or computer screen every time they want to see a photo.

AdobeStock_40717329.jpeg

I had loose photos (from decades) in sleeves up until a couple months ago when I scanned the ones I wanted to save, and threw the hard copies out (save a couple I kept).  It didn’t do any good to have them in a big bin, neglected.

Our families make a calendar for my parents and my in-laws (and our extended families) with photos from the past year.  It’s a nice way to memorialize things.  LESS paper and MORE thoughtful than sticking tons of photos in an album, if you ask me.

Do what works for you, but I encourage you to explore photo book/project options rather than printing loose photos if they are just accumulating and not being enjoyed.

Leave a comment below to let me know how you organize your photos!  I’m sure there are ways out there I’ve never explored before.

Why I want junk mail…

…to never come to my house!  Gotcha to keep reading here.  I just want to briefly share about two things that I do to cut down on junk mail (I would like to put a sign on my mailbox that says NO JUNK MAIL, but I kind of think that won’t do the trick).

no junk mail, 3D rendering, triple flags

First thing I’ve done and recommend: use the app Paper Karma and scan addresses of unwanted junk mail, and then Paper Karma contacts these companies to unsubscribe you from their mailing list.  I definitely see that my junk mail has decreased, to the point that I don’t even get mail everyday.  See also this video on Paper Karma – this individual presenting has also been featured on the Today Show:

Second thing I do is automatically put any junk mail items that I receive in the garbage, bag to recycle, or in a pile to shred.  I sort mail the day it comes to my house.  I don’t let it overwhelm me – I get it out the door.  Occasionally my kids use ‘junk mail’ magazines for art projects, but they aren’t a must-have.

Remember – it’s not fan mail! 🙂

Living in Toyland

“Science says that LESS is MORE in Toyland.”  Very often I have toys all over my living room floor.  Most nights I try to clean up – I need to make sure we don’t trip, milk isn’t left in the play kitchen’s refrigerator, food doesn’t get found by ants – you know, the basics.  We do a really good clean up at least once a week.  It takes time and I don’t always ‘have’ time to do it.  My oldest daughter is helping more and more which is wonderful!

Living in Toyland.jpeg

My children are currently 6, 3 and 2.  They need to play.  I decided today that we need some rules here in Toyland.

RULE #1 NO MORE OVERFLOWING TOY BINS!  That’s a benchmark I think I can follow.

RULE #2 STOP BUYING TOYS FOR AT LEAST A MONTH [when it feels like toys are taking over the house].  oh no…won’t my kids be upset?…

RULE #3 ______________ (fill-in-the-blank) – I feel like taking more toys out of the kids’ bedrooms might help solve things too but I’m still trying to figure it out….help!

We’re working on finishing our basement right now – it will be our primary playroom.  We will see if we can stick to this LESS is MORE once we have more space.  We need to start somewhere so for now, I’ll try to follow the two simple rules I’ve made.

Two bags

My mom is in town visiting and has always been so helpful sorting my kids’ clothing.  I would ask her what I should do to organize the clothing better, and she would always calmly say “you have too much”.  Wow.  So I could be more organized if I had LESS?  Not rocket science but it was mind blowing for me.  So it’s not a good thing to have MORE and MORE clothes in the house?!  I had already applied the KonMari method to my clothing – but could I possibly find an application to my kids’ clothing, when they couldn’t tell me what truly sparked joy for them? (You have to read Marie Kondo’s books to get the humor here).

Today I went through the kids’ clothing with my mom (really we had time for just the 4T clothing for my middle daughter).  It took SO MUCH TIME.  But in the midst of it all my husband and I got motivated to purge other things in our house, and my oldest daughter caught the fever and started purging things in her room.  Once in the groove, stay in the groove – and we did for a couple hours.

So the two bags…adobestock_22394284.jpeg…one for throwing out and one for giving away to a charity (i.e. Pickup Please a.k.a. Vietnam Veterans of America or to our MOPS consignment sale at our church).  The stuff that we kept had to find a home, and that home needed to have room (it couldn’t be put back in an overflowing bin).

My mom told me about her parents who had 11 kids – they were super good at continually getting rid of things.  Disclaimer: I think this may have not always been a positive impact on the kids, still I’m impressed to think about how they managed.  MORE space for kids LESS clutter.  I only have three kids – can’t I manage to fill two bags with things to throw out and/or give away, at least a couple times a year?  How about you?

During this first week of Lent…

For six years now I have attended a church where we have Lenten services every Wednesday night from Ash Wednesday to Easter – remembering Jesus’ time in the wilderness, leading up to Jesus’ death and resurrection.  I didn’t grow up in a church that had an official Lent period, and I’m enjoying the season.

Of course most people know about Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and Easter – those holidays are pretty standard, but everyone ‘celebrates’ the Lenten weeks in between differently.  I’m trying to look at Lent as a celebration – and I’m impacted by how it goes so well with my blog’s theme: have LESS to have MORE.

I ran into an article about the 40 Bags in 40 Days Decluttering Challenge, and it made me think that decluttering could be what I do for Lent.  I’m not filling 40 bags but I’m definitely trying to give up clutter – it’s an ongoing challenge.  Recently I gave away clothing, toys, and MY FILING CABINET (I currently don’t have any filing cabinets in the house)!!

No matter what you believe about God, I think you get what I’m saying – LESS of something means MORE of something else.  And if you feel like you want to know God MORE, please don’t hesitate to ask me – or better yet, check out the Bible (here’s the app I read – there are great devotionals too).

AdobeStock_56785656.jpeg