Back to the Basics | 30 Day Minimalism Challenge, the beginning

minimalism challenge

Original list by Into-Mind.com

So, it has been awhile since my last post. I have a ton of excuses of why my time has been consumed elsewhere… but I’ll save you from my pity cry. ūüôā

I recently read a post from The Minimalists about their favorite bloggers (I can’t find the original post! Sorry!) and of course I clicked on every single recommendation – as I can not get enough of other people’s simplifying testimonies. One of their recommendations was Blonde on a Budget. I spent a great deal of time catching up on some of her recent posts and found this: the 30-Day Minimalism Challenge. I think the list/idea was originally from into-mind.com, but I LOVED how she attached her daily updates from the challenge in the post. I am also really digging the simple concept of the 30-day challenge.

Now, my life is so far from simple right now. I have way too many irons in the fire than I am comfortable admitting at the moment. I suppose I am a perfect candidate for this challenge, but the looming possibility of failure scares the crap out of me. Now is better than never, right? Plus, it will give me purpose for giving my blog the TLC it needs.

When I sat down to start planning out my July 21st – August 19th challenge, I noticed some of the points of the challenge were singular events and others were more of a daily practice; so i’ve sectioned off those singular-event items from the others. My daily updates may just be that – updates. Others will be addressing points of the challenge directly. Hopefully my method of challenge-organization will make sense when it is all said and done.


 

Daily Practice Items

  • #2 | Meditate for 15 minutes
  • #6 | Follow a morning ritual
  • #8 | Learn to enjoy solitude
  • #10 | No email or social media before lunch
  • #17 | Practice single-tasking
  • #19 | Go for a walk and practice mindfulness
  • #21 | Journal for 20 minutes
  • #24 | Practice Gratitude

The next 30 days will be interesting to see how it unfolds for me. Won’t you join me and hold me accountable? Pretty please.

Here is a printable version of the list (thanks Blonde on a Budget).

If you are joining me in the challenge, let me know your updates too! If you are just following – any ideas or words of encouragement would be greatly appreciated!

Have You Heard? | #mothermanifesto

#mothermanifesto cissyromano.com

I was on the phone with a friend of mine from college this morning. Our sorority house is being demolished this weekend in order to make room for a larger and fancier house on campus. I don’t know the history of the house and how long it has stood – I should know, but my days of pledgeship are over, so just take my word that it is old. My friend mentioned that I will probably be the only sister not there this weekend, which makes me sad. Sad, because I know the reason I am saying no is because I’m having to make very tough choices these days in order to manage how stretched thin I am. I am sad because I know that I am missing out on yet another event with friends¬†who were once a priority of mine. Sad. Sad. Sad. I miss them. And I miss that part of my life.

Motherhood is hard. Ok, you are thinking this is going to be a complaint post. No, not a complaint post. More like a PSA for all of you mothers that are living day-to-day right now. So I get to my point. A friend of mine from high school has co-created an initiative called the #mothermanifesto. She charges all women from all walks of life to band together in support of being a #mother. While I know that a simple pledge is not going to be life-altering or grant me more sleep at night, I do find encouragement in a band of sisters lifting each other up in support. Sometimes, you just need to reinforcement that you are not alone. There are other #mothers out there who have to flake out on their college buddies for important events. Because, you know, you have kids. And no babysitter to be found. And you are renovating your kitchen. And those weekend hours are spent at the library picking up site-word books for your kid that is starting school in the fall. Or making Costco runs and freezer meals for the upcoming week.

So, here I am – very transparent. Letting you know that I am riding this ride with you sweet mother. I feel your struggle and I know the way your brain is rationalizing decisions. I signed the manifesto because I want others to feel my digital embrace and to know that they are not along. If you feel the need to encourage, you can sign the manifesto here, and order the cool #mother shirt here.

Back To The Basics | Less Toys = Life With More

So, it’s been a little over two months since the lightbulb went off. That is about 10 weeks of increased sanity, increased time, and increased love of my home. I’ve tackled several areas of my home thus far, but my happiest is our toy collection. It is my belief that no matter¬†if you have one or 10 children, you loathe toys. Am I right? They are everywhere. No matter if you are diligent about picking up said toys, they seems to appear in every spot besides the spots that you designated: sock drawers, your bag for work, the fridge… I was ready to declutter this part of our lives. R.E.A.D.Y.

I should set the stage. We have a very small home compared the American average. Please don’t ask me the square footage, because I have never been able to understand why we talk in square footage when it comes to homes. But, either way, trust me – it’s pretty compact for a family of five. I love that it is small. Small house payment. Small surface area to clean. We are on top of each other – and I like for my family to always be in my line of sight or within an earshot. – sorry for the tangent – OK, so our toys lived in every part of our house: the kids rooms, our rooms, the bathrooms, the kitchen, the dining room, the living room, the den, and even outside! Seriously. Every room.

I decided I was going to confine the toys to three areas: my oldest daughter’s room, the twins’ room and our den. Then, I used the KonMari method and dumped everything into the floor of my den and started sorting. I found the easiest to get rid of where all the miscellaneous piecy kind of toys that had missing parts or were bound to have missing parts in the near future. DONE. The hardest to get rid of were books. We have been given so many beautiful children’s books over the years that I found the memories of people giving them to us made it difficult to part with them. I then resorted to a max number of books allowed and reminded myself of our fantastic library and the experiences we have had going to the library to pick books out. DStorage Container for decluttering toysONE. I purchased a clear box with a handle similar to this¬†for a small collection of toys for the twins room. I also left a toy castle in their room between their cribs. Because my oldest daughter is at the age that she is able to play by herself, we allowed a few more toy options for her room. She houses all of the children’s books in the house as well as most of the stuffed animals. The stuffed animals now live in a pop up tent/castle that does an excellent job at concealing the large collection of stuffed animals that she was not able to part with. She also had a small(er) collection of Barbie and Barbie accessories in her room. All toys are now contained in similar clear boxes in her storage unit from target. The third place that houses toys is in our den. We have another cube storage unit that we store the following in: music toys, puzzles, blocks, plastic toy animals, and dress up accessories. We also have a basket with our balls and then a small kids table for the girls to sit at and play. The toy kitchen and kitchen accessories are also down there. Our arts and crafts are housed in a small fabric box on top of our tv and the games are right next to it in a plastic storage bin.

So, we no longer have toys in our line of sight no matter where we walk in our home. It takes me – MAYBE – 15 minutes to pick up the worst tornado that is possible. Yes, 15 minutes. I have control back. My kids are starting to play in concentrated areas instead of at my feet while I cook. I am happy. My husband is happy. And my kids hardly miss the HUGE AMOUNT that we donated to the Salvation Army.

If you are struggling to find a place to start in your home – try the toys. Everyone is happy to see those go!

Back To The Basics | Living Life With Less

Budda Quote_CissyRomano.comHave you ever seen those programs about tiny houses? The ones where the people live in spaces under 500 square feet? If you haven’t – check out this YouTube channel. Absolutely fascinating. While this lifestyle would never work for me right now, it got me thinking if one day I would be able to live with a minimal number of possessions – truly live with only what I need. I’ve been intrigued by this lifestyle for at least a handful of years. It was only recently that I started making changes in my own life to get closer to this minimal way of living.

Regardless of what you have going on in your life and the number of warm bodies (human and furry friends) you are responsible for, have you ever spent an entire Saturday or Sunday cleaning up your crap? I’ll take that as a resounding YES – even if you aren’t admitting to it now, we’ve all had to take time out of our valuable and precious weekends to sort our things out. Call it “spring cleaning” or whatever you want – it exists. And it stinks. It makes you realize real quick that you are an adult and that being an adult is just not fun sometimes.

So this whole minimalist movement is about solving that problem. What if you controlled your living space and possessions instead of these things controlling you? Admit it – its intriguing right? And completely counter-intuitive to our Western culture where more is more and less is less. What if less really was more?

As I mentioned before, my husband and I have already started making smallish changes in an effort to explore this new less-is-more lifestyle. It was easy to get him on board by merely talking about how much time we would save on our weekends and dedicated free time if we weren’t having to do mounds of laundry and spend hours picking up the explosion of toys that happens immediately after the previous pick-up session.

My first step happened in January of this year – I started in my closet. Clothes seemed to be the easiest starting place for me as I am not emotionally attached to clothing. My reason for having so many items of clothing was practical and rational for this point in my life. My body has endured so many changes over the past 6 years – I have grown and delivered three human beings, so of course my body shape has been all sorts of shapes and sizes during this time period. I was hanging onto clothing with plans in mind of not being as large or round in certain body areas forever. OK, so its taking longer than I would like for this to happen. I’ve accepted it and I have now parted with the variety of sized clothing in my closets. It is still not where I want to be – I need to shed some more – but it is better than it was when I started.

My second step was our kitchen – again out of rational thinking – we are about to undergo a much-needed kitchen reno next month, and therefore we need to have all the crap that we don’t use out of the way so its easier to work around the reno and store our belongings. I have 4 of the same-sized pyrex! How does that happen? I also shed our old plates we received from our wedding. We had more than we needed and the majority of them were chipped anyway. We upgraded to stark white plates, which I am obsessed with and they bring joy to me every time we sit down to eat.

After the kitchen purge, I watched a review of a book that seemed to be taking over people’s conversations (in the social/web community I take part in): The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Her book basically summed up everything that I was reading and watching that was inspiring me to make these changes. I picked the book up in hopes that it would help me organize my plan of attack for this new exploration of mine. I’m about half-way through the book and it is amazing. And life-changing. And magic. I highly recommend it.

This past weekend we purged toys. It was amazing. It was joyful. My house smiled when we finished. My children did not even notice. Again, I feel we could purge even more, but this was an awesome starting point. My next attack will be my closet again. I plan on documenting my process now that my house is not as embarrassing. Had you only seen where I started.

I can tell you that so much peace has already come upon me and my family. After three months of slowing chipping away at the over-abundance of STUFF that was taking over our lives, I have never felt so at-ease walking into my home. It is slowly but surely becoming a place I enjoy spending my time.

Have you been intrigued by this minimalist movement? Have you tried changes in your own life? Please share with me any successes or failures you have experienced. I hope at the end of the day the promise of minimalism comes true, and I hope you enjoy our journey.

I feel a “Namaste” is an appropriate exit of this post. So, namaste.

Cissy

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TAG | 25 Facts About Me

1003570_10101919504614435_1907611018_nFor me, starting to¬†blog is like starting a new book that you just can’t put down. I’ve entered into a new world and every door I open increases my desire to learn more and see more. Tag videos on YouTube are some of my very favorite videos to watch – mainly because you get to know the people you follow on a deeper level. I’m pretty new to Bloglovin’¬†so I’ve been spending a lot of time (probably too much time) exploring all of the beautiful and creative blogs that exist! I stumbled upon The A Style yesterday and saw this tag and thought it would be appropriate for new-ish blog. So here we go!
 
What is your middle name?:¬†My given middle name is Curtis. I know. It’s¬†unattractive and boyish. Not something I would have chosen for my girls. I legally changed it to my maiden name when I got married. So glad that chapter of my book is closed. It does, however, still exist on my college diploma, which hangs in my office.
What was your favourite subject at school?: Theology. I was blessed with the opportunity to go to Catholic Schools and I was always fascinated with the deep thought required in all of my theology classes. Props to my teachers who encouraged such thinking!
What is your favourite drink?: Beer. If I had to choose a fav, it would be Hoegaarden. I love it. I also love the huge craft beer movement that is going on in my town right now. So many different varieties! And I love shopping local!
What is your favourite song at the moment?:¬†It would have to be¬†Slumber by NEEDTOBREATHE. I’m slightly obsessed.
What is your favourite food?: Ice Cream. No doubt.

What is the last thing you bought?:¬†A dishwasher. Life of a homeowner…
Favourite book of all time?: The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Takes me back to being a teen.
Favourite Colours?: Red. If you are into the psychology behind this, read more here.
Do you have any pets?: We have a dog. His names are: Charlie, Charlie Brown, Charles in Charge, BoBo, Buddy, Dog!, Bub. He is old. He is our original baby. He used to sleep between my husband and me in a queen sized bed. He is now blind, can not eat table scraps, and has a HUGE mass of fat on his undercarriage that can not be removed because its tangled in blood vessels. Poor BoBo.
Favourite Perfume?: Very Sexy by Victorias Secret.
Favourite Holiday?: Thanksgiving. I love food.
Are you married?: 7 years strong!
Have you ever been out of the country, if so how many times?: Yes. Italy twice. Spain twice. Caribbean a few times. Mexico a few times. Canary Islands once. And I stepped into France for about 10 minutes. Spain is my favorite. I love you. I hope to see you again soon.
Do you speak any other language?: I fell in love with a boy from the Dominican Republic when I was 16. *Sigh, young love!* That will make you want to learn a language like nothing else. I then majored in Spanish in college and spent a couple of semesters in Spain. So I would say my Spanish is good enough for a basic conversation. I can read and write fluently though.
How many siblings do you have?: I have an older sister and a younger brother.
What is your favourite shop? So many to choose from! It all depends on what I am shopping for. Food – Whole Foods. Clothes – Gap. Makeup – Ulta.
Favourite restaurant?:¬†Oh, Hot and Hot. Let me count the ways…
When was the last time you cried?:¬†I have three kids ages four and under. I cry a lot. Mostly because I am tired and don’t know how else to react.
Favourite Blog?: If I had to honor just one, it would be Essiebutton. But there are LOADS of others that I am in awe of.
Favourite Movie?: I have issues with watching movies more than once, so I am going to skip this one. I do love movies though.
Favourite TV show?:¬†I’m really into Sherlock right now. I will also watch the crap out of Criminal Minds. Criminal Minds is probably my only exception to watching a show or movie more than once.
PC or Mac?: Mac
What phone do you have?: White iPhone 5.
How tall are you?:¬†I would not use “tall” as a descriptive word for me. I am short. Lets just leave it at that.

Can you cook?: I repeat. I love food. Which translates over to cooking. Love of cooking is something my husband and I share. I love him only slightly more than I love food.

El fin! I really enjoyed this tag! I hope you did too. Share with me if you decide to do this tag as well!

xo, Cissy

How to Survive a Beach Trip With Babies

emma backYes, a beach trip with babies and toddlers is completely doable. When my parents approached me a year ago about my thoughts on “spending a week at the beach” next summer, my only response (in thought of course) was “Are you flipping crazy?”.

Here is why:

1. I only get ONE PAID WEEK of vacation a year – and you want me to spend it all at one time?

2. Three kids ages 4 and under?

3. No pool?

4. A FULL WEEK? What will happen to my desk at work? It will take me 3 weeks to recover!

Ok. Ok. Once the automatic “No.” was decided upon, my husband sat me down and made me think about it. How often will we get the opportunity to spend the week at the beach? AND paid for?

So… we decided to go. And because it was not last minute (nothing with my family is unplanned), we had the chance to prepare the Dave Ramsey way. We saved a little each week for a year so that we wouldn’t have to worry about spending money while we were down there.

We are notorious for believing we are millionaires while on vacation.

So, my point here is to show those scared mothers and fathers that a beach trip is totally doable. AND, with proper planning, it should not break your piggy bank either.

SOME TIPS:
  • Plan to cook your meals at the beach. Not only is this a piggy bank saver, but a trip saver. We turned into so-called “beachbums” that week. We woke up bright and early for those inspiring sunrises (and because we usually had a kid screaming), ate our breakfast, then headed to the beach. We did not leave the sand until it was time to head in for supper. Cooking our meals allowed us to savor each moment in the beach breeze.
  • Don’t stay at a place with a pool. I was downright frightened about this lack ofbeachbums amenity. Our daughter has been on sand before (not during the summer) but we had never spent anytime at the beach in our 4-year parenthood journey. I have always heard horror stories about kids hating the sand / afraid of the ocean / stung by a jellyfish… what was I going to do with three young kids at the beach for an entire week if they hated the ocean and sand? So – my answer to this is to not give them the option to hate it! My oldest now looks like she is of a south-of-the-border ethnicity (I guess she already is a 1/4 Italian though) and could be a certified beachbum for the rest of her life.
  • Don’t overpack. Wow – you should have seen our van. I am now regretting not having a photo to hang in my house to remind me¬†never to overpack again! Because I didn’t realize my family would turn into beachbums, we had enough clothing and toiletries to dad and twinslast us at least a month in our normal lives in Birmingham. If we were not in swimsuits, we were in swimsuits with coverups. The fancy outfits I brought to clothe my children in for the quintessential beach photo opps remained in our Vera Bradley bags for the entire week. I only remembered I packed them when I was repacking everyone on the last day. Geez. I can be very silly sometimes. I guess the saying down at the beach is true, “No shoes. No shirt. No problem.”.In that same vein – you don’t need $100 worth of toys and beach accessories to keep the kids happy. My four-year-old literally spent an entire day sitting on the edge of the water while scooping and pouring sand over her legs. The buckets and nets and frisbees and kites and sand tools all remained under our ez up with the adults and babes.
  • Don’t overplan. I know. I know. I just finished saying how important “proper planning” was… What I mean here is that you don’t have to have a slue of activities planned to occupy your crew. I mean, it costs a small fortune to head to the coast anyway. Jet-skiing, parasailing, deep sea fishing, etc. will not make the trip any better if you are hopping from one activity to another. My best takeaway from our trip is that my brain went to Jell-O for 7 days. Thank you Jesus for such a great blessing!
  • Swimsuits not required! haha… no, I am not an aspiring nudist. BUT, my babies – thetwins real babies (14 months) – did not, I repeat, did not need the 5 sets of swimsuits I bought and brought with me for this trip. They also did not, I repeat, did not need the swim diapers. They wore regular old Pampers for the duration of the trip. I did put them in a t-shirt at bedtime, but they were semi-nudist for a week. And they loved it. And the pictures are¬†adorable because of it.

All in all, the trip was better than I could have ever imagined it. For a woman who works full-time, I was slightly frightened at how my system would react to being around all three of my kids 24/7. I did MUCH better than how I imagined myself – not that I don’t believe myself to be a good Mom, but I am definitely not accustomed to hearing my name five million times in a day. ūüėČ

sandcastlessand hillemma sandcastle

So, if you are on the fence about a beach vacation with your youngin’s, I am here to witness that a parent can survive and make memories. Best of luck to all of you parents, grandparents and guardians out there. Summer of 2015: I am looking at you with eyes wide open. You better be ready for the Romano crew!

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Prayers For Rain On Your Wedding Day

78_526597033435_7508_nYes, you heard me correctly. Rain on a wedding day is such a blessing. I remember counting down the days to my wedding day back in ’07. I was obsessed with checking weather.com for updates on a daily basis. April weather in Alabama is so unpredictable. I take that back. Weather in Alabama is so unpredictable. It really does not matter the time of year – you never know what you are going to get.

All of the planning and expectations could not have prepared me for the actual day. The beautiful, bright floral arrangements Рbecause it was SPRING after all! The dogwoods were blooming. The azalea bushes were exploding with color. My wedding day pictures were going to be perfect. Perfect.

All week the forecast had been warning me of rain for Saturday. But, it was Alabama after all – so I believed in the forecast about 50%. The weather the night before our wedding was beautiful. 65 degrees. Zero humidity. The cute, cropped sweater I bought to go along with my dress would have been totally optional. I thought to myself, “self – we may get through this with rainbows! Oh, rainbows – what a magical touch for those flawless, colorful outdoor photos. Right.

308_610089508845_2575_n

At our rehearsal dinner.

I woke up on my wedding day around 5am. My two best friends from college had spent the night with me and were going to help me get to the hotel where I would be getting made into the bride who was going to look amazing in front of those blooming azalea bushes and dogwood trees. We dodged the sprinkles as we loaded up my friend’s car with all of my bags, wedding dress, veil and shoes. It was gray and dreary. I wanted to cry. My friends kept assuring me it would probably clear up by my 3pm wedding and not to worry. I worried anyway.

I can’t remember if it was that morning or later that day that I received a text message from my soon-to-be-partner-for-life. He had done some research regarding superstitions of rain on your wedding day. He said he found that the Hindu believe that rain is a good sign as a “wet knot is harder to unravel than a dry knot”.

So, for all of you brides-to-be out there fretting about rain on your wedding day. Here are some other thoughts to help ease your worries. And, if you don’t get the wedding photos with the blooming trees and bright azalea bushes – it is not the end of the world. I would much rather have the luck of rain bring me 80+ years of a committed marriage.108_518339776045_3174_n

OH RAIN… How I love thee. Let me Count the Ways!

Rain renews. It feeds and brings new life. It hydrates our Earth. How can a life-giving and life-sustaining thing be bad?

Fertility. There are some who believe rain on your wedding day is a symbol of fertility. Well, my three tiny blessings are living proof of this theory/superstition/belief.

Fresh Start.¬†Most religions believe that rain is symbolic for a new beginning. I am Roman Catholic. I baptized all three of my munchkins shortly after birth. The Holy Water was used to cleanse my little ones at baptism for their fresh start in the Catholic Faith.¬†Also, if you have ever lived in a place where blooming trees and bushes paint the sides of streets and fronts of houses every spring, you also know how welcome rain is to wash away all of the pollen that is making you and the rest of your house ill from allergies. ūüėČ Rain washes away the impurities and allows for the air you breathe to be fresh.

God bless you rain.

10253801_10102192903685505_2461846037452914752_n (1)So, as you can see, rain on your wedding day can bring so many blessings to you and your significant other. It is raining, once again, on my 7th wedding anniversary. I feel just as blessed today as I did 7 years ago. Our knot is strong because it started off drenched with rain.

Happy Monday everyone!

-Cissy

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