Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Decluttering Inspiration

I’ve been really inspired to declutter this year, possibly because of the huge amount of baby paraphernalia that has entered our home. I kind of had no choice. It was get rid of stuff, or buy a bigger home, or start suspending things from the ceiling, but since we’re both quite tall, that wasn’t an option.

This website - The Simple White Rabbit - has inspired me.  I really like her goal – gradual minimalism. She basically focuses on simplifying your life slowly in little steps. She has posts that go through each room of a house, plus features minimalists in history and full length books written on the subject of minimalism and decluttering.

Empty shelves!
Six garbage bags plus a few boxes of stuff went out the door earlier this year. I couldn’t believe I had so much excess just lying around our small two bedroom apartment. Granted, I did this mainly because we brought back 4 suitcases full of stuff from our trip to America over Christmas, so it was basically a case of replacing old stuff with new.
But even if I don’t pare my wardrobe down to 30 pieces or get rid of all of my books (you may gasp here), I think minimalism is a good thing to keep in mind, and a good goal to have. It helps me when I go shopping now – is this item really going to add value to my life, or is it going to suck up my time and energy to store it, clean it, organize it, etc.

Right about now my mother is probably snort-laughing and falling off of her chair. This is because my parents are coming later this week for a visit…with three (four?) full suitcases of stuff, mostly for Moonpie, mostly stuff I ordered. She’s still so brand new that I haven’t felt the need to declutter any of her stuff yet, and it’s not out of control...yet. I can see if you got a few of these kids around how it could get pretty non-minimalist (maximalist?), though. I think back to how my brother and I completely took over our family room with Barbie houses and piles of toys. Sorry, mom.

Space in the pantry!
Anyway, the point is, I like the goal of gradually simplifying. This past weekend I decluttered my kitchen pantry. There were 2 grocery bags worth of stuff that was expired, or stuff I could combine and throw out the excess packaging, or stuff I knew we would never use at home, but could get used at work (How did we get so much instant coffee in our house?). I should have taken a "before" picture, but it is a fact that something fell out every time I opened it. I also tackled my wardrobe over the past month, and we have two empty shelves on our bookcase. This is in a home of two people who had two full bookcases when we got married!

Where are you in the process of decluttering? Having trouble starting? Going gradual like me? Or are you slash and burn, get it all out at once?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Featured Expats Blog!

Marie in Stitches is now a featured blog on Expats Blog.com! Notice the nifty badge to the right confirming this!

You can check out my page there at this link http://www.expatsblog.com/blogs/6768/marie-in-stitches

If you click on this link from my blog, though, you'll basically be redirected back to...my blog. Still, if you feel inclined to write a review over there, please do so.

Plus, if you do head over they have a whole bunch of really cool blogs from all around the world!


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ramadan in Turkey and Baby Sleep

I haven’t had much else on my mind lately besides sleep. I want some. I want Moonpie to have some more, and not in the “so I can watch a movie and put my feet up” sense. I really think her mood and possibly health are suffering due to a lack of sleep. Mine definitely are. In a major, major way. I’m not complaining about Moonpie. I know she’s not deliberately plotting ways to make me lose my mind (although that did cross my mind the other night at 2:37AM). She just needs a little more help to fall asleep and stay asleep, and I’m not sure what that help should be, because nothing I’ve tried seems to be actually helping her.

Got this image from http://www.emirdagcity.com
They usually aren't this cute, though.
And then we have the delightful tradition of the Ramadan drummer – we are now in the month of Ramadan in Turkey (and everywhere else, actually), and here there is a tradition of having someone walk through the streets banging a drum to wake people up in time to eat before the sun rises, since people are theoretically fasting during daylight hours. Ramadan is a month in the Islamic calendar, which is lunar, so Ramadan rotates through the entire calendar year. This year it’s smack in the middle of summer, which means people who are fasting are fasting for 16 hours or so on the hottest days of the year with no water. It also means that the drummer comes around at 2:30AM. Sometimes Moonpie is already awake at that time, but sometimes...she's not. And then she is. And I get stark raving mad angry at those drummers.

I understand why they have the drummer, (here is a nice video on BBC and here is an article) and I usually think it’s nice when people hold onto their traditions, but I have to admit I would like to see this one tradition go. My in-laws, who do fast, also think that having the drummer is ridiculous. They just set their alarm clocks J I’m just an outsider looking in on all of this, so I can’t make a full commentary. I just know that I want my baby to sleep, and I don’t want someone banging on a drum at 2:30AM!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Baby Poo Camouflage

I have been trying really hard not to mention baby poo on this blog, because although it's a big deal in my life right now, both it's presence and absence, I know some people would be grossed out by it. If you are one of those people, don't read this post.

So, right now I am sitting at my desk in my professional job, which I have had for nearly 6 years, with baby poop on my shirt. I got Moonpie in the car this morning on time, and there was no hint that anything was amiss until... I got her out of her car seat and noticed a warm, wet sensation on her legs and back, and on my hands and arm, accompanied by a strong scent. Oh goodie. I clung her as close to me as I could and bee-lined it for my in-laws (which is up a sizable hill, by the way). My mother-in-law usually takes her from me as soon as I reach the door so I can get my shoes off comfortably, but today I alerted her that she did not want to take this baby today, as I tried to stop the poo from dripping onto the floor. Ok, it wasn't that bad, but I did have poop smeared all over my arm and shirt. My mother-in-law spread out the baby changing mat and took over while I tried to wash up and get the spots off of my shirt. Incidentally, I wore the perfect shirt for this type of thing today!

Might as well be called "Baby poo camo"
I even talked to my university's construction manager this morning about getting the plans for the new building to add to the campus map I'm working on, and she was none the wiser that I had poo on my shirt! But I did call my husband to tell him about my morning, and he suggested that I might want to go buy a new shirt just for today. Hmm...He might be right, as I'm not sure the shirt will also camouflage the odor come high noon. Oh, the sacred bliss of motherhood.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Beach Weekend with Baby in Didim

This past weekend we went to Didim, a beach town on the Aegean Coast of Turkey. I was extremely worried that it would be a disaster. But, I didn't want to be a person who drags her feet reluctantly to a weekend at an all-inclusive hotel on the beach, so I decided we would just go with the flow and hopefully Moonpie wouldn't cry the whole time. And...it was great! It was amazing! Moonpie loved the beach, and that made me love the beach even more. My wonderful husband took her back to the room for her nap so I could stay on the beach...get this...by myself! I...get this...read a book! It was just what I needed to get back some perspective and recharge my batteries. I hadn't realized how much two weeks of very little sleep had affected my ability to cope with, well, anything. I now feel great and recharged and ready to take on Moonpie's sleep challenges with more patience and grace!

Here are some scenes from the trip:

Moonpie chillin' and checkin' out the scenery on the drive there.

Turkish countryside

View from our balcony

"What's this Mommy? Does it taste good? No, it does not."


I love this view.

Baby feet in the sand!

On the drive home

Friday, July 4, 2014

Ellen Brock's Novel Boot Camp

Here is a resource for anyone who is working on a novel: Ellen Brock's Novel Boot Camp.

As many English teacher-type people do, I have about three novels in the works at any given moment, and I ran across Ellen Brock's website while browsing the web for writing advice. She is currently doing a "boot camp" free of charge on her blog, and so far it has been really helpful. She is direct, thorough and gets her point across in a fun way. I think the boot camp would be most helpful for people who have at least a first draft of a novel completed, but even if you don't, I would sign up for the emails and just save them for when you do!

Here's the link to the first lecture:

Happy writing!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Tim Duncan Inspiration

The Spurs just won their 5th NBA title this year. That makes them 4th all time in the NBA, but they’re up against the Boston Celtics’ record of 17, with 8 in a row from 1959 to 1966. That’s incredible. But five is also incredible, and they’ve done it with more or less the same group of core players each time. Anyway, I tend to really dislike the Spurs because, I don’t know, they always win, and I’m a Suns fan. There were a few years there at the height of the Suns’ Steve Nash era where it seemed like every time we felt like we had a chance to make it to the Finals, Tim Duncan was just standing there, like, “Nope.” Grrr. But, they are a really good team, not flashy, but really, really good. So, I let my bitterness go and decided to be really happy for the Spurs and learn more about them, because Tim Duncan is 38 years old and just won his 5th title. That’s quite a career. I watched a little YouTube video about his life and career (this link is for part 1), and it made me sorry that I disliked him so much. He seems like a nice guy, and he’s one of those people who just worked really hard and then got swept up by “luck”. I even felt inspired by how he found his path in life. A hurricane and his mother dying when he was a teenager pushed him away from the sport he loved, swimming, and towards a sport he wasn’t very good at, basketball. At least in the video, he attributed this to God’s direction for his life. I was thinking all about this during my “lunch walk” today. He says he wasn’t very good at basketball at the beginning, but through encouragement and practice, he got good enough to be recruited by a US university, where he got good enough to be a number 1 draft pick! The guy is talented, but I’m sure that also involved lots and lots and lots of hard, hard work.

And I was wondering - Am I putting in that kind of effort towards the purpose God has for me? Am I floating through, or am I really giving it my all? It was a little heart-check moment. I’m not talking about earning God’s grace. No way. I’m talking about what God has me on the earth to do, my “calling” or whatever you want to call it. Am I doing the hard work required to be a great wife and mother? Am I sweating it out to be a better teacher? I could definitely improve. Not to please people or earn praise, but just to be the best I can be.

I also thought about the book I’m reading now, Raising Kids for True Greatness by Dr. Tim Kimmel (Amazon affiliate link below). I’m just a few chapters in, but so far the book is making a case for our goal for our kids to be “true greatness” instead of “success”. It seems like Tim Duncan’s parents raised him for true greatness, and he found success along the way as a byproduct.

I never thought I would be inspired to follow God more closely and parent with more purpose by Tim Duncan. Thank you, God. And thank you, Mr. Duncan. Congratulations on amazing success!