Last week I had two sick babies, and so I did a LOT of work on our house, thanks mostly to Keely and her new favorite book by Simple Mom. I raced through the book on my new Kindle (LOVE!) and was inspired. I'm still inspired and have plenty of work left to do, but it doesn't all have to be done now, does it? Here's what I have done:
1. Collin and I brainstormed a purpose statement for our family. I was certain he would make fun of me when I approached him with the idea, but he didn't. He responded quite well, and two days later, we had a purpose statement. Our conversation started something like, "Well, duh. Our purpose is to 'glorify God and enjoy him forever.'" But what does that look like for us, Team Barnes? We basically broke it down into four bullets, the first of which we figured out, though we kind of already knew, was that we want our home to be a place where others feel welcome (pretty much any time) and can rest. We have people in our home constantly, and so I started to thinking about how our living space can best provide a place of rest and welcome.
The first task was to open up the seating space - and add more seating. Before, we had a couch and two chairs; our TV sat on what could be considered an end table, and there were two TV wobbly trays between the two chairs. The chairs faced the couch, not the TV (likewise the couch faced the chairs, not the TV), so that is conducive to a place of conversation. We debated removing the TV entirely and decided it needed to stay (one reason is that our community group meets in our house every Tuesday and is currently watching a video series on The Reason for God). Anyway, I moved the coffee table that was sitting against a wall and put the TV on it (and was consequently able to hide all the wirey, technology-y stuff in it because it has two shelves). I put the "end table" between the two chairs. I opened up the space between the chairs and the couch in general so that it's much more open (probably half of our downstairs space). I added two dining room chairs against the wall that was previously home to a coffee table and put one TV tray between them. Oh, and I put a lovely lamp on the end table.
We keep one basket in the living room that any toys that make it downstairs (which is always a lot) can be thrown into at a moment's notice, and any of the girls' books can be stacked in the bottom shelf of the coffee table. Perfect. Room complete, open, warm...I love it. Now all I need to do is find the perfect piece of art, but that can wait. We currently have a few pictures hung on one wall, a quirky guitar-guy poster framed on another, and all of our CD covers in a collage on the wall behind the TV. These things help express our love our music, so they work for us, even though some people probably think, "I would NEVER do that." But isn't someone always going to think that anyway?
The room is basically blue and red and brown and gold, and I love it.
2. The next thing I did was tidy up our "dining space," which is the same room, other half. I centered the table and cleaned it off and found a bowl that I find beautiful to work as its centerpiece. I tidied the books that we keep stacked on our exposed-brick wall (next to the table). And I hung the mirror that had been sitting on the floor in our kitchen since we moved here in July.
There is also a ledge in this space that kind of works as my office. I couldn't find another place for it, so there goes our mail, though I try to keep it in control and it sits in a beautiful little mail holder thing that I acquired years ago. Next to that is a beautiful box that my friend Kirsten gave me on my 30th birthday (full of children's art supplies), and an aloe plant that likes the sun that streams through that window most of the day. It probably doesn't fit the "simple living" book ideal, but it works for us for now. Ultimately, I cleared a LOT of junk out of this space. The table never used to be empty of papers; the ledge was packed with all sorts of junk. You get the picture.
3. Next was the kitchen, and boy, did I go crazy. I got rid of so much stuff that I never thought I'd get rid of. A whole set of dishes. A number of pots and pans. I don't even know. The following Saturday morning I had a bunch of girls over to rummage through the stuff and take whatever they wanted. The next day I took the rest to church. Thankfully, our church is hosting a free "garage sale" in the spring, so I've been able to take boxes and bags and boxes and bags to church every week for a few weeks now. I think we're up to 10. It's so nice not to have to worry about trying to sell every little thing. I suppose it would be nice to make a little bit of money here and there, but it is also very freeing to just give things away, knowing that others might actually use them. At least I hope they will.
It's a good thing I made space, because we decided to put our NEW ELLIPTICAL(!) in the kitchen. So, this really may sound like it goes against the simple living bit, but fitness is one of our priorities, and we couldn't think of a better space. We had actually a perfect space for it in the kitchen that was being used by nothing (well, a random chair that we threw things on and a mirror that I hadn't hung). I still absolutely love my kitchen; I even love having the Elliptical in it. I only needed to move the hanging pots and pans into the cabinets so that we could fit the Elliptical there. And it fits, and I love, love, love it. I have gotten a workout in every day since we got it. I finally feel HUMAN again. Okay, enough about the Elliptical.
So the kitchen is functioning well; it is full of things I use; I cleaned out the catch-all drawer and the tray that sits atop our toaster oven. I cleaned off the top of the fridge, which was a junk bin. One thing I did not do was take any pictures off our fridge. I love those pictures; I love those people; and my fridge will forever house as many pictures and cards as I can magnet onto it.
That's all for now. Getting a little long winded. Suffice it to say, I cleaned out every room in the house. There's work to be done, but I am thankful for our space.