Sunday, 23 September 2012

Camp Simplify

The stuff arrived in port on the 19th. So now we wait for an inspection, possible fumigation, and then we get our furniture and other household goods!

After 8 solid weeks of the bare minimum I have mixed feelings. We've been at 'simplify your life' boot camp. A house-full of furniture down to none. Eight weeks of camping out in our house--four weeks on the US end/four weeks here on the Australia end.

Here's what we have had:
-an air mattress, a Pac N' Play, and the boy's trail pads to sleep on (plus pillows & pillowcases, a duvet for us (but no sheets, I forgot those), and a sleeping bag for each boy)
-one 16 piece set of dishes
-my nesting melamine mixing bowls
-two pans for cooking, a 13x9 baking pan & muffin pan
-some silverware
-a few cooking tools. Funny what you deem absolutely necessary when you're packing for several weeks. I brought a garlic press, vegetable peeler, a good chef's knife, a paring knife, can opener, wine key (priorities!), a spatula, two silicon scrapers, and a set of tongs. I also brought the pastry thingy that you use to cut the butter into the flour. Totally can't remember what it's called and not sure at all why I brought that? Guess I thought we needed some pies. Except I didn't bring a pie pan.
-a towel each & a bathmat
-a few rags & a few dishtowels
-some clothes
-whatever toys/books the boys could fit in their backpacks
-a few iTools

Housing-wise we've gone from 3 bathrooms (with two bathtubs) down to one with only a shower & no bathtub. Two living areas and a dining room down to one living area. A large washer and dryer down to a wash & dry in one machine that my friends in England jokingly called a "wash & hot." About a quarter acre or so of mostly grass down to a tiny little yard with mostly plants (read: low maintenance).

Technology-wise we have no TV. In the US we couldn't get any TV programs either, but we had one for Wii and for movies.

Here's the deal. I see that list and think what a 1st world problem such a "lack of stuff" is. In the 3rd world that would seem like major luxury. We have SO much to be thankful for. I am practicing lots of gratitude.

I'm thankful there's so little to clean or tidy-up. It's a nice break. From cleaning and tidying but also from badgering the boys to get their part done. It takes me about 45 minutes to get the entire house clean.

I'm surprisingly thankful for the lack of kitchen tools considering my love of kitchen gadgets. I bought a kettle, a crockpot, and a toaster when we got here. Those items are essentials in this family. But the lack of kitchen stuff has kept things very simple and easy-peasy in the cooking department. It's also got us to cleanse a bit and pull dairy and gluten more strictly out of our diet. We were really struggling with that in the US. Probably because I had resorted to a lot of meals out and processed foods to just get by until we left.

Having very little technology has been wonderful. I thought an iPhone really simplified my life. Turns out it's the opposite. I have a bit of a technology addiction. It's true. Funny how much less stress I feel when I can't check facebook or email as often. Also--there's this crazy thing called a MAP that I'm finding all kinds of helpful! With no GPS or smartphone I just have to check the map as I'm driving places. Here's the deal--I think I'm getting around much more quickly than I would have otherwise! Seeing the map gives me an idea of the bigger-picture. So I'm starting to get a sense for how to get places. My iPhone or the GPS only told me the next turn. The map shows me where I am. Hmmmm...I bet there's a metaphor in there somewhere.

Also I conserve words. My tiny little uber-expensive to top-up phone is a real pain to text on. Calls cost loads. So I conserve words. I only use the important ones. My conversations are brief but distilled. Probably a metaphor there too. You think?

Without a Wii and with only the few movies we loaded onto my iPad (about 5 of them total) we play games. Rummy, UNO, etc. We jump rope. Well, the boys do. I'm pretty bad at it, but they're teaching me lots of what they call "advanced moves" so I'm getting better! We read. Already finished two big ol' books and are well into another two. It's lovely.

We also have no friends or family here. Which in some ways really sucks. Really. However, in other ways it's wonderful just to have us to focus on. It's simple. Spending time together. I think Middlest and I have finally caught up with snuggling for the first time since Littlest was born. Biggest no longer frantically uses his zillion words a day in the last 20 minutes before bedtime. He seems to feel comfortable with the time he has to talk about what he needs to talk about. 

"It's been great, and I'm grateful." Now can we have our stuff back?

Chuckle. See, here's the deal. Not having furniture means having no drawers to put our clothes away in. Which means certain toddlers throw every item of their own and each of their brother's clothing all over the floor during nap time. Not having a real bed or curtains to go on the windows makes certain marital activities a bit tricky. It also means our bed is the hub for everything. Since it's the only piece of 'furniture'--albeit inflated-- in the house it's the only place we gather. For stories, snuggles, sleeping, infirmary, aforementioned activities, etc. The thing is? My bed is full of sand and smells like boys. I'm ready for sheets and a place for the boys and I to snuggle or read or play so that the master bedroom can be a bit of a hiatus for Wanderer and I again.  

There are things I plan on incorporating into our post simplification bootcamp life. I plan to play a lot more games. I don't know why half the clothes that are still coming are still in my closet? I haven't worn half the things I brought! Major culling about to commence. I'm in no hurry to buy a TV even just for movies and Wii. I have already made a list in my head of the many kitchen things that end up being distracting clutter. Definitely some culling needing to take place there. Also with the toys. The boys play together these last few weeks. They don't have anything else to play with! I thought they'd fight more because of that. Turns out they fight less. A lot less.

Also I want to work very hard at not incorporating too many activities into our lives. It's just too wonderful to have so much time to be together. We like each other a lot. We like each other much more when we spend time cultivating relationships with each other as our first priority.

Turns out we do better as a family--as individual people too--with less. Less commitments. Less stuff. Less. But I am looking forward very much to a couch, a bed, and a drawers for the clothes! Also curtains. Never thought I'd miss curtains so much!

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