How did we acquire so much clutter?

Two years ago, our family was moving across the country again for the fourth time in a year. I was pregnant with my third child, and pretty much over the packing/unpacking process. Since we were in a sort-of career crisis at the time, and weren’t even sure where we would end up permanently, I made the decision to just sell all of our stuff and found a furnished apartment. We sold everything that wasn’t sentimental, and only brought what we could shove into our minivan. When we first moved into our rental house a year and a half ago, it was with five small boxes, an arm chair and a mattress. So, how is it possible that I already have clutter?! Stuff is like magic. Since I have space for it, the chase lounge just got moved to my bedroom when we bought a new couch. Our garage has been filled with various half-projects that we found at thrift stores or that friends…

When we first began the discussion of downsizing our family’s living situation, we sort of saturated ourselves with information. Going over floor plans and evaluating everything we could find. After our brains started to hurt with computing overload…we decided to watch a movie about it. There was…

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Are my kids missing out by not getting tons of gifts?

Since embarking on this journey to live simply and reduce my material possessions, I have frequently been told that my kids are missing out during holidays or birthdays by not receiving piles of stuff. I am often asked whether or not I think my kids will resent me for it. No, I certainly don’t think they will. Since we’ve reduced our consumption of stuff, we’ve increased our time together and made new traditions. Instead of filling their Christmas stockings packed full of $1 store toys that will end up broken or lost within a month, they get a journal, colored pencils, a peg gnome and a chocolate orange. They certainly look forward to these items, but they look forward to us making cookies, identifying constellations, and reading Christmas stories even more! I remember the last time we bought dozens of Made in China toys for my oldest daughter, and as I watched her just throw each one down and reach for the next one and the…

Extreme Makeover generation led to unsustainable living?

I used to be a huge fan of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” because who doesn’t like a good cry? And boy did that show deliver! They would take the families on the verge of their houses falling apart, many of them hovering over the financial cliff, and then they would rebuild their home. On top of all that, they would often pay off their mortgage! And they really would go to extremes too. If a kid so much as mentioned that he saw a Spiderman movie once, they would build a system of nets throughout the house that would sling him into his bright red and black room. I was watching an episode where a foster parent was given a McMansion for herself and all of these wonderful kids she took in. It was beautiful, but between sobs I started to have this line of rational adult thinking, “What happens to her property taxes?” or “It has to be more expensive…