Embracing the Minimalist Life

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“The things you own end up owning you.” – Name that movie!?

In 2010, pre-kids, Big Beard and I (just two of us!) lived in a five bedroom house in Portland. At the time, it actually felt kinda small! Now we’ve flip flopped. There are five of us in a two bedroom condo, and I seriously think we could downsize! I’m just loving the simplicity, organization, and freedom that owning less crap has brought.

Last week when we were out of town we were stoked to host our first Airbnb guests in our home. A friend asked, “when you have renters, what are you going to do with all your stuff?”

Ummm, what stuff? If it’s not something you need in the home for a renter, and if it’s not something you’d bring with you when you travel, do you really even need it?

We have a new motto in our house… “When in doubt, toss it out!” So far, we have not regretted one single thing we’ve gotten rid of!!

I’d love to hear from you. Are you sentimental about things? What are some things you store away that are super important (what am I going to regret not keeping down the road?!!)? Are there things you are storing away that should probably be recycled?

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We All Belong

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My husband told me that when he was younger, growing up in Florida, he kinda always felt like he didn’t belong. I guess I felt the same way in Arizona, but I had never named it. Then @bigbeardcreative came out west in his early twenties and realized he had a place in the world.

Have you ever collected beautiful seashells when visiting the ocean, and then brought them home with you only to find that once away from the water they completely lose their luster?

I think people are kinda like that. Once we find where we belong, we shine. Take us out of that setting, and we can sit dull and smelling like stinky ocean on the shelf.

Our family has been working hard to collect seashells these last few days while we visit the coast. Instead of taking them home we’re gonna put them right back in the sea where they sparkle. Friends out there, I hope you’re living into lives and in places that allow you to sparkle too. We all belong. Part of life’s journey is figuring out where. ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨

Climb On

“Stop there little buddy, that’s high enough.”

“Any farther isn’t safe.”

“You could fall.”

“If you go too high, I won’t be able to reach you if you lose your balance.”

Oh man. Sometimes I’m sooooo not okay with how I parent. I mean, is this the kind of adult I want to raise??? Too scared to test the branches? So reliant on other people’s perspective of what’s safe? Over-parented to the point he can’t trust his own instincts? Too cautious to CHANGE THE WORLD? *

“The words you speak become the house you live in.”
I have no idea who said that, but I saw it on a vintage poster as I was scrolling Insta last night. So much wisdom in those sponsored shopping ads, ya know?

Instead of squashing out all that inner, awesome, childish drive, how ’bout using words that are more like…

“How high do you want to climb today?”
“How will you decide when you’ve gone high enough?”
“How will you determine if a branch is strong enough to hold you, before you risk putting all your weight on it?”
“What’s your plan if you go beyond my reach, and then need help getting down?”
“Do you feel balanced?”

Please understand I’m not just talking about climbing trees here.

The ability to make thoughtful decisions might be one of the most important skills we can teach out kids (helllooooo teenage pressures). It’s a skill that doesn’t have to be learned in the classroom, and perhaps cannot be learned in the classroom? It’s a skill that sure can’t be learned on many of today’s school playgrounds, since trees are often eliminated due to their unpredictability. True story. How sad is that?

Dude, life is unpredictable.

In twenty years, when my kid is about to make an important *risky* decision, that will impact that greater good of all the universe forevermore until the end of time (a mom can dream, right?), do I really want my mom voice in the back of his or her (totally adorable and brilliant) head saying, “better stop there kiddo, any further isn’t safe.”

Heeeeccckkk no. Climb on little buddies. Test the branches, trust your instincts, have a plan, and climb. the frick. on.

The end.

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Wild Magic

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Wild Magic ✨

Do your kids like to hike? Ours don’t. But our family does go on a ton of really fun hikes! (Shhhh, don’t tell our kids.) These are known to our children as adventures, grasshopper catching expeditions, treasure hunts, animal track-finding excursions, dinosaur explorations, and troll and fairy quests.

Sometimes our hikes involve stories to up the level of engagement. On our hike last weekend, “Kids, last night, I woke up in the middle of the night and something caught my eye out the window… (pause dramatically). There were sparkles, cascading down, and glowing fairies dancing about…” The story went on and on, and ended with… Ana (7 years old): “Mom. Wait. Seriously. Is this real?” 🧚🏾‍♀️

“Hmmm,” I pondered, “do you have magic in your heart?”

Our hikes with our kids are 97% about the journey, not the destination. The kids are too little to make it about the destination.

But duuuuude, what if we lived life like that, everyday, no matter our age? I’m not saying don’t have goals and dreams to aspire to… I’m just saying, what if we enjoyed the ride a little more?

A few weeks ago we headed out for a family “adventure.” Ana’s hiking attire that day pushed even me out of my comfort zone. (Because, blisters and dirt and burrs and you know, all the things.) She was in the house wearing an Elsa dress. (Ironic?) We were trying to get out the door, so we just went with it.

Let me tell ya, something as simple as adding a costume made for one dreamy, imaginative, whimsical experience in the woods together. It was an awesome reminder to let go of rules and shoulds and have-tos and “the normal way” more often and just go with the flow. It was 100% about the journey that day.

✨ Wild Magic. ✨

“Is it real?”

I don’t know. But it sure seems worth believing in. ✨

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Be Careful What You Pray For

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I’ve attended and even assisted with enough parenting workshops to know better than to yell at my kids on the reg. There is a better way!!! I’ve been taught it over and over again.

When those righteous little rugrats push all the wrongeous big buttons ( 👈 totally a word), I know you’re supposed to take a breath, stoop down to their eye level, put a gentle hand on their shoulder, and redirect that blood-boiling annoying behavior right outta the house.

But since we’ve been moving all around town to kingdom come these last few months, co-sleeping on floors while we wait for our house to be remodeled, the stress level has been a little higher than ush and momma hasn’t made time for those eye to eye convos. So I’ve yelled.

At the same time, I’m been prayin’ that God would make me a better momma.

They say be careful what you pray for.

Um, thank you, Jesus, for Laryngitis?

Yup. Can’t talk. Can’t scream. Can’t yell. 😶 Can only walk over to one mini-hellion at a time, stoop down to their eye level, put a hand on their shoulder, and address them as the loving, whispering momma that I am.

Good Lord, you know all the things we need. Your mercies leave me speechless. 🥴 Thank you for making me a better momma. But also God, I feel like I’ve learned my lesson. Can I have my voice back now??

Thanks Big Guy,
❤️ Kara

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Rules to Live By

Headed to the Golden Coast today for a girls trip. I’ve been up since 4am, excited. I feel like a little kid. Just came across this beach pic from February, and thought that as I watch the clock march toward morning I’d might as well share a fun little thing that helps me remember family values / rules to live by.

Maybe you’ll be able to use it too!?
Put your hand up. 🖐

1. Thumb 👍 Thumbs up for a good attitude and a good time.
2. Pointer☝️ Point out the cool stuff. Be bold! Include others in your world. Share what you see and how you see it.
3. Middle (I legit can’t find that emoji. Which is convenient.) Forget about the haters. There will always be negativity. Block it out and rise up.
4. Ring Finger 💍 Commit to the people and goals and things you hold dear. Keep your promises.
5. Pinkie. Chill the heck out. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
6. All five ✋ stick together. The strength of the pack is the wolf. And the strength of the wolf is the pack. *
7. All ten 🙌 Gratitude. Thank you God!

Do you know any fun little tricks to remember / keep you focused on what’s important? Happy almost weekend!!

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Less Stuff. More Life.

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We’re staying in a hotel (basically) for a few months and our kids have one small suitcase of stuff right now. Though when we’re in our “real house,” as they call it, they don’t have much more.

Don’t feel bad for them.

They’ve been pretending to travel and get on trains and head off to college with their suitcases. It was pretty dang cute actually, when our 2 year old rolled that suitcase out the front door last night and slurred her words with a mouthful of pacifier, “off to college.”

But I’m not talking ‘bout college today. (Thank God! We still have more time before that!) I’m talking ‘bout how less stuff can lead to more life.

At least that’s what I’m experiencing.

If you know our story you know @bigbeardcreative and I had approximately 5 hours to prep for parenthood. Becoming parents overnight isn’t even accurate, because we were called at about noon on a Saturday and our precious @solanagilbertadventures was in our arms at 5pm that day. An “over”night heads up would have been nice, but I think then we would have “over”thought it. Best it happened how it did. We lived in a 1 bedroom apartment attached to a church @snowmasschapel and had exactly nothing one needs to take care of a baby. Or so we thought. We soon realized we actually had exactly everything one needs to take care of a baby. We had a tiny home to keep her warm and we had tons and tons of love to give. (I blogged a lot about all of this when Ana first melted our hearts in 2013 / 2014.)

It’s so easy for me to go down the rabbit hole of thinking we need this next thing or that. At the ❤️ of it, there’s only one thing most of us really need more of… It starts with an “L”. Oh yeah, and, if you wanna have a lot of fun, a cardboard box.