Words, Words, Words: Sharing in the Extra Ordinary

MJ is the author of Pars Caeli (“Little Piece of Heaven”), as well as a graphic designer and mother of three. At her blog, you’ll find all kinds of ways to discover good humor, thoughtfulness, and fun in the everyday. MJ is a fantastic writer, and I’m so glad that she’s agreed to share this story of simplicity with us. Thank you, MJ, for being a great friend, and for being a source of inspiration in happy living.

One year ago, we embarked on the journey of home renovation, and it was definitely an experience as much as an end product. It began as an effort to extend the laundry/mini-mudroom leading to the garage. The overflow of shoes, backpacks, and laundry baskets was becoming a fire hazard and an unwelcome greeting to our every entrance.

When we reviewed the plans, my husband and I realized we were beginning a domino fall. Move the laundry? Well, that means we should finish off more of the basement. Take down that wall? Move that stud? Well, you get the idea. In order to complete all that needed to be done, we packed up the playroom (you know that space that has every small toy, party favor, and leftover artwork in it?), and the contents of the entire first floor of our house. All of the stuff of our lives was distributed and stored upstairs in our bedrooms and bathroom, or the small storage space remaining in our basement. I’m not sure how many boxes it took, but I know that we made at least three trips to our local grocery store to snatch the last of the sturdy egg boxes. Those egg boxes filled up quickly.

My children, then 6, 4, and 2 were excited about all the change and new people entering their home. They were not delighted to pack up their toys or see them stacked to the ceiling in Mommy and Daddy’s bathroom, unusable until further notice. I was also more than slightly concerned with how this upheaval was going to affect the kiddos. How long would they peacefully go without a space to hang out? How long would we go without appliances and home cooked meals?

In my efforts to design more space and more openness and more, more, more, I discovered that what we needed was a little less and a smattering of simplicity.

One year later, what do my children remember from the renovation experience?: “Mommy, I wish we could all eat dinner on your bed like we did when our house was changed.”

Reworking spaces had us without a kitchen or the usability of our first floor so we all camped out together in the master bedroom, eating pizza on our comforter and giggling over the funny noises and strange new smells in our house. Polyurethane on hardwood floors moved us out of our house and into a local hotel for a few days, and my children love to talk about the time we spent swimming in the middle of winter and the silly trips on the luggage cart in their slippers before school.

Those toys we packed up in box after box? Most of them remain in the boxes a year later. They’re now ready for charity as my children have learned they didn’t really need (or want) all that stuff back in their shared play space. The playroom is brighter and bigger than it was before, and it’s also more empty, or rather more full of dancing space and room to create.

I have more storage space than ever, but we buy less now. We keep less. I think we’ve all learned that making fun moments together beats any mound of toys or books or craft supplies (ahem) that we might gather. Simplifying has created a renewed sense of peace and purpose in our home.

As the holidays approach, I remind myself of the laughter we shared skipping on cement floors and throwing picnics in the hallway. Our Christmas lists this year will include intentional moments together, sharing in the extra-ordinary. The requests for toys will be simplified–and the plans for holiday adventures will be amplified.

How has simplicity impacted the relationships in your life?

Check out MJ’s blog, Pars Caeli, for a daily dose of her happiness philosophies. And check out her Pinterest boards for inspiration of all kinds, including a thoughtfully curated typography board (my favorite!)

Photo by MJ of Pars Caeli

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  1. I really, really appreciate this reminder and message of simplicity. Like MJ, I’ve learned (through other lessons) that kids really don’t need much. They much prefer a good laugh, a shared moment, a tickle fest, and our simple attention over stuff any day. I’m going to carry this reminder with me as we enter a very busy time of the year. Thank you, MJ and Joy. Have a wonderful weekend!

  2. Really enjoyed reading this, MJ! It really is true that children find joy in the simple things. We admittedly have plenty of toys at our house, but the ones the girls like the best are the small trinkets/souvenirs/stuffed animals collected during family outings/vacations together and old birthday cards from friends and family… we have a whole drawer of them and the girls love to look at them. Hope you have a great weekend, MJ and Joy!

  3. Thanks for having me over, Joy!! And for your lovely introduction. šŸ™‚ It’s such a pleasure to be on the pages of Frock Files. XO, MJ

  4. Clare Wilkinson says:

    Yes – simplicity! You hit the nail on the head with this post, MJ! America has so much STUFF! And we don’t need most of it. Life in Dominica taught us this lesson – and I am trying to remember how little we lived with and needed there. It is harder to do in America where stuff is so abundant, but living more simply is so wonderful! Thanks for a great reminder!

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