Journey Back to Minimalism

Journey Back to Minimalism

For a while now I have been longing to simplify my life. Since I became a mama, it’s been increasingly difficult for me to stay on top of my household chores. Don’t get me wrong, I’m far from a hoarder, far from “overwhelmed with clutter”. I’m run the average household. I have a 3-bedroom, 1200 sq ft house. But this house has been in a far from perfect state lately.

Here’s my story. I came to this country with one suitcase! My entire life packed in one 22 kg (50 lbs) or less piece of luggage. I moved in with a friend of mine and her family. I didn’t need my own dishes, my own vacuum cleaner, my own washer to do laundry.

Cleaning my first ever car! It was a 12 year old Dodge Spirit.
2004 – Cleaning my first ever car! It was a 12 year old Dodge Spirit. This baby fit all my belongings during the first move.

After a few months, it was time to move on, before I overstayed my welcome. I was far from being able to afford my own apartment, so I moved into a situation where I was renting one bedroom and sharing a bathroom and kitchen with others.To move from my friend to the one-bedroom situation, I managed to pack all my belongings into my sedan sized car and it only took one trip to move. My life didn’t fit into one suitcase anymore but it still wasn’t much.

At that time I worked three jobs to save for grad school. As an immigrant, I didn’t qualify for financial aid, student loans, and I actually had to pay out-of-state tuition. Every penny I earned had to be saved. I couldn’t afford buying anything for myself but I was lucky enough to work with fabulous people. When they found out I was on my own, I received boxes filled with items they didn’t use anymore. I got plates, cups, curtains, even a painting to hang on my wall! I was so thankful for everything!

After about a year, living with many other people was becoming overwhelming. Too many cooks spoiling the broth! And literally, too many cooks, not enough cleaners. If you know what I mean. Lol. My then boyfriend and I decided to move out. Our friend’s brother was renting a small house and needed tenants. Here we were! It felt amazing! To move into that house, we rented a small U-Haul and packed it with all our stuff. Both our belongings fit into one trip to the new place.

The problem was that now we had to furnish two bedrooms and a tiny living room. I joined a Freecycle group and managed to acquire needed items. I shopped Salvation Army for furniture and visited many yard sales. This was also the time that I graduated from grad school and finally got a job outside of waitressing and cleaning cars for living! After a while it became possible for us to buy a house!

Moving truck is ready to go
2008 – Our moving truck is ready to go. Three trips later we were in our own home!

To move into our house – the one we still own – we again rented a U-Haul and did three trips to move. Here we are, 9 years from that moment. I still own the painting that was hanging on my wall way back 🙂 If you asked me to move today, I would need to start packing weeks in advance. Life just happened in those 9 years.

I reached a point where I long for those simpler days. Between working two jobs, paying bills, running errands, and taking care of tons of other things, the last thing I want to do is stress over my house. And there are days where i feel like I can’t keep up with it all.

Coffee table
2012 – My friend’s wedding flowers on my coffee table. I was still able to keep it all together then 🙂

I need to reduce the amount of things I own. I need to simplify to enjoy my life and my family rather than spend time organizing and cleaning. Are you at the same point in life? Did you maybe complete a similar journey? I hope that I’ll manage to accomplish my goal. I need to get there. For my own sake and for my entire family!

Celebrating Multicultural Easter

easter polish mexican american traditions

Holidays at the Gades tend to be a little different than in most American homes. Having a blended Polish-Mexican-American family means following traditions from three separate cultures. It’s very important for us to teach Baby C our cultures. So, here’s what the Gades do for Easter!

In the Mexican tradition, Palm Sunday is extremely important. Everyone attends church services, and brings home the beautiful palms. If you have ever seen them, you’ll fall in love with what they can braid those palms into! My husband always proudly showcases his skills of making crosses – they are his specialty.

In the Polish tradition, Holy Saturday is a special day. While keeping a strict fasting diet all day, we go to church for a food blessing. We prepare intricately decorated food baskets that usually include eggs, kielbasa/ham, horseradish relish, salt, and bread. Our church prepared a hand-out this year about this tradition. Part of it reads:

food basket easter polish kielbasa lamb

Growing up, my family never used wine and we still don’t drink it at the Gades home, so I never bring any to get it blesses. The custom says that you can’t throw away anything that’s blessed. I made the crochet doilies a few years ago and continue to use them yearly. We eat all the blessed foods for Easter breakfast. Along with a nice root salad.

polish easter basket

In the American tradition, you have to have an Easter dinner, with ham and potatoes. So, that’s exactly what we do with our American Mom (a dearest friend who fulfills the role of a Mom and Nana here for us). This year she has outdone herself preparing a delicious meal of ham, decadent scalloped potatoes, carrots, and asparagus! And yes, the leftovers tasted just as good as the dinner itself.

We also prepared a little Easter egg hunt for Baby C. She enjoyed it thoroughly until she found a bubbles bottle and a baby doll. Then, all she wanted to do it blow bubbles while cuddling her new baby :). We had to collect the rest of the eggs ourselves :). In our two other cultures, there’s no presents for Easter. It’s more about the religion and the resurrection of Christ. We never even had a bunny associated with Easter until the “western culture” came over in the 90’s. The symbol for Easter has always been the lamb.

 

In Poland, Monday is also a national holiday day. It’s the “Wet Monday” or, as we call it, the “Smigus Dyngus”. It’s a day when all the young eligible bachelors would dump onto all the maidens buckets of water. This transformed into today’s everyone getting wet – maiden or not. If you decide to get out of the house that day, be prepared to get wet. I remember my grandma who would always get up early in the morning, grab some water, and wake us up by wetting our feet and faces! Lol. I sort of miss this tradition here. Especially since we don’t even get the day off! It’s business as usual.

I enjoy Easter. There’s no long preparations, as there are with Christmas. It’s sort of a peaceful and relaxing holiday to have. And an important religious event to celebrate!

Welcome to our life!

If you’re seeing this, you found my first blog post ever! Thank you for stopping by and taking a moment to read.

Let me get something out first. I never liked writing. I’m a numbers-oriented person and I never enjoyed the art of pouring out my heart onto paper. Even at school, I learned a nice “formula” for writing essays, and followed that religiously throughout my education. It worked perfectly for me. I was one of those young girls who could never keep a journal. I love stationary, so I would buy beautiful journals, notebooks, etc., and then leave them empty, writing maybe the initial post.

So, why I am now starting a blog, you would ask? I’ve been thinking about it long and hard. It almost feels like our life is going through a major change. I might be just getting old, but I am in great need of rethinking my prior decisions, of de-cluttering my life, literally and philosophically, and of simplifying my surroundings.

In the last two years, our lives at the Gades’ home have drastically changed. We were blessed to welcome a beautiful daughter! This simple fact made me re-think everything we were doing and every aspect of life. The focus has shifted, the priorities have changes, and nothing appears the same as before.

In a way, I feel as though I need to document those upcoming changes for my own future reference. I would also love to share my story with others, and if any piece of it resonates with you, I will live knowing that I have not only changed my life but possibly improve others’. So, welcome to our home! Welcome to our life! I hope you’re moving in for good!