Thursday, November 29, 2012


Last time when I posted about my picture obsession my sister pointed out that 922 pics in Eli's first month of life means I took 30 pictures a day. Or one an hour. 

Hi, my name is Cara and I am a pictureholic. At least when it comes to our son. 

I would like to think that I have gotten a better handle on my problem in his second month of life. And judging by the 299 that I just uploaded I would conclude that I have, indeed, gotten better. But better does not mean cured because 299 is still way too many pictures for one adult to take of one tiny human being.

But seriously, with a face like this, can you blame me? 

Actually, I'm safe on that one because that pic was taken by Britney and her husband when they were visiting so not all 299 were mine.

I promise this blog won't become "The Book of Eli" but seeing as how this blog is a documentation of our life, and Elliot is a pretty major part of our lives, he will be featured from time to time.

Although, I'm pretty sure our families only care about him now and would be perfectly okay with me turning this blog into the Eli show. 

I, however, would not be okay with that because this blog is my outlet. A place where I can be creative (or at least try to be), share my ideas and capture the adventures and memories of our life so that from time to time I can be reminded of all the hilarious, and sometimes not so hilarious, moments the Lord has brought us through, and hopefully encourage others through our own experiences as well.

So with that, I want to get a little deep with you today. Okay, not really so deep, but today's post does involve a book that inspires a little self-reflection so you have been warned if that sort of stuff freaks you out a little. 

A few months ago, my friend Britney sent me a book entitled "7" by an author named Jen Hatmaker. 

The subtitle reads "An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess".

Given that we have moved more than twice as many times than years we have been married, I have become more and more (painfully) aware of how much stuff we have. With each move we purge and vow to not accumulate material possessions, and yet somehow, with the next move we find ourselves with yet another pile of random who knows what that we can't seem to part with and yet also have no idea what to do with.

I say all this to say that, after reading the title of the book, I was intrigued because it seemed to fit so perfectly with what I had been feeling for some time: I am tired of having "stuff". Partly because I am tired of moving it all, but also because I feel convicted about how much we have and don't need when so many in the world don't even have the basics of what they need. 

Jen, the author, was also tired of the excess so she identified seven areas of her life in which she could "fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism and overindulgance." And thus, "7" was born. 

The seven areas she chose to focus on were food, clothes, spending, media, possessions, waste and stress. 

She devoted thirty days to each topic, and each chapter of the book journals her experience throughout the month. 

The first month she only ate seven foods (avocado, plain chicken (no seasoning other than a little olive oil and salt), spinach, apples, whole wheat bread, sweet potatoes and eggs. 

That's it. For the whole month. No seasonings, just the pure, natural state of each item.  

If I'm being totally honest here, after this chapter I was a little skeptical. For some reason I was slightly annoyed by her initially. 

But then came chapter two: Clothes, and chapter three: Possessions, and I was hooked. And super convicted.

In her closet she counted 327 items from which she could choose to wear. Assuming she spent an average of $20 on each piece, she spent $6,540 on clothes. 

I have no idea if I have that many, but I wouldn't be surprised if I did. It's hard to know what I have at the moment as our stuff is scattered between whatever we brought with us, whatever we left at my parents' house and whatever we packed away in boxes and had shipped overseas that is waiting for us in California. Yes California. It's confusing, I know, but it's also too complicated to explain so just go with it. 

The fact that I have enough clothes with me here to get by--not to mention keep me warm in the NY winter, and that I have more clothes at my parents as well as two boxes (that I can remember at least) of clothes in California, I would say I have way more things to wear than I would need over the course of my lifetime.  

And yet somehow, I find myself wishing that I had new clothes. In fact, I could easily make a case for why I would need new clothes. The clothes I have aren't good enough, stylish enough, whatever enough. They don't fit me right. Actually that one is legit because my clothes don't really fit me right at the moment thanks to this squishy post-baby bod I'm rockin'. But you get the idea. 

Jen's solution was to choose seven items of clothing, including shoes (but not including unmentionables) and wear those seven and those seven only for the month. She washed them of course.   

When it came to possessions, she gave away seven things. A day. For the entire month. That's 210 items. You know what's really sad though? She gave away 202 items from her closet alone in the first two days. She hadn't even begun to go through her kids' stuff or her husband's or their 2,500 square foot house in general. 

I'm afraid to know how many things I could give away that I wouldn't even notice them being gone on a daily basis.

To eliminate excess spending, she limited their spending to just seven places: The Farmer's Market, the gas station, online bill pay, her kids' school, limited travel fund (for speaking engagements I assume), emergency medical, and Target, although the Target had sort of an asterisks to it in that it was only to be used for necessities like toilet paper and what not. 

No eating out. No shopping. No entertainment. 

I won't go into detail about all 7 things because this post is already getting long, but if you get a chance, I highly recommend picking up a copy of 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. It's an inexpensive and quick read that will challenge you to be more mindful of ways excess has creeped into your life without being preachy. And it's also really entertaining as Jen's accounts of her experience are very real and honest and rather hilarious at times. 

After reading "7",  my sister, Brit and I were inspired to adopt our own version of the fast, which we are two months into, but I will talk about that at a later date as my "me" time is about to be invaded by a sweet, but hungry, little boy. Actually, make that two boys, as it's almost time for dinner for Luis as well. 


Ms. V said... Best Blogger Tips

A great, short read to bolster this approach on your parenting front is Simplicity Parenting. Love this post!

AM said... Best Blogger Tips

This is intriguing. I just spent two days cleaning out wardrobes in our apartment to make space for the baby and I was wishing the entire time we have less stuff.

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks Cara for the post. I remember feeling a sense of freedom when we got rid of things in preparation for putting the house on the market. Slowly over time things creep back in. LAAF.

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

I have been reading another book about getting rid of clutter. I totally support the idea the author is writing about. Right now I feel overwhelmed with life, but I will put it on my list of books to read. I know we are all way too influenced by the world. Write on little mama..... NB

Chocolate and Cognac said... Best Blogger Tips

Your little guy is so precious :)

I want to check out that book now, it sounds really interesting. After reading this book, I realized that I was keeping unnecessary things that other people could really use and ended up donating loads of clothes and books. I enjoyed reading it a lot, and it was a huge inspiration. If you're considering cutting down on things, there are a lot of good tips on how to do so.

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