To Minsk, With Love

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Minsk,

It has been twelve years since I first set foot on your Belarusian soil and you stole my heart.  That trip was one not to be forgotten.  It was my first time out of the USA and even my first time on an airplane.  There are so many memories still.  We ate strange foods like cow tongue, pig’s ear, borscht and weird dairy drinks. We walked more than my American legs had ever walked in a 10 day period.  I made friends that I keep in touch with to this day. My good friend Jeff took a punch for me when I was grabbed from behind by a drunk, vodka smelling, non English speaking man. I found it was not unusual to have several friends all named Tanya.  I saw God in a whole new light.  And I met my husband.

I visited four more times as a single, college student.  One of those being the summer of 2004, in which my love for your only deepened by the longer stay.  My parents and friends thought this longer trip would hold enough culture shock to clip my little wings as my mom would say, but this Robin, was meant to fly and I have over and over. That summer I lived with a family – now my family. I learned so much and experienced so many things.

A few years followed and I tried to forget you when the possibility of living on your streets came and passed. But here I am ten years later and I still love you.  You have changed a bit, but so have I. You are not perfect by any means, but I don’t care. No city is. I’ve been here a month now.  That’s enough time for some ups and downs.  Those just seem to make it all the more real.  To deepen the knowledge.  All your foreignness and yet so familiar.

Though I always have been a country girl, you were the first city I loved. I love your parks and festivals, with their monuments and memorials that speak of the lives and ages lived in your borders.

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I love the immense green space and wooded paths along the Svisloch River.

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I love the mix of architecture. From the industrial soviet style buildings, to the onion domes of the churches, to the quaint and colorful village houses.

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I love your forests.

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I love your sounds and have even grown to love the smells.

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But most of all I love your people.

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They are the ones I truly will not forget and what make you what you are.  I wish I could picture them all.

With Love,

Robin

If you want to see more of Minsk and Belarus, this video is good.

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Kids Clothes

We all get overwhelmed with our homes. If you’re a parent, the stuff it takes to raise a child, let alone multiple children, is enough to send you over the edge. There are entire stores devoted to our little ones.  If we want to live simply we are probably trying to minimalize clutter, stuff, and stress so that we can enjoy and do the things that matter the most to our lives.  It is going to look different for each person or family.  So, while my kids’ toys and closets may require different things from yours, we can still encourage and collaborate on how to cut down on all the stuff they really and truly need.  As a mom I would much rather be outside or reading with my kids than washing, drying, folding, sorting and heaven forbid ironing their clothing.  I’ll write about toys another day, but here are a few thoughts on kids clothes.

  1. Limit the clothes you save.  After my first, a girl, I kept EVERYTHING.  We knew we wanted more so I just felt like I should keep it all.  Then we had a boy. Who couldn’t use hardly any of her stuff.  We moved and Andrei said a 2 year old should not have TUBS of stuff.  I thought about it and it made sense, so over time I went through different tubs of her things and reduced it down drastically.  If you’re like me I have friends who are still having babies.  We’ve all passed around some things, whether its clothing or swings, or whatever was needed. The point is, if you need something again, you will be able to find it cheap if not for free.  Need I remind you there’s always the option of going out to these giant stores devoted to our children and paying full or sale price for it.
  2. Only have current sizes and seasons.  To keep their drawers and closets simple and to hopefully help in the daily getting dressed chore (ahem, mom’s of girls), only have current sizes and seasons out.  My kids have large closets so I do have a few things in the back, like their winter coats.
  3. Going along with #2, don’t buy ahead.  This will eliminate your need for more storage.  I am thankful for hand-me downs as it saves a ton of money, so if you’re blessed to get those, I say go through the them when you get them and save the ones you think will work for your kids.
  4. Know what your kid does and does not like.  My daughter loves dresses and really dislikes jeans. While we usually have one or two pairs of pants, I usually have several “everyday” dresses she can wear most days.
  5. Reduce the amount of current clothes for your child.  I don’t know how many seasons or growth spurts have come and gone with my child not wearing everything they have. The only logical explanation is we have too much. Think through your lifestyle and make choices based on that, not on what Pinterest or boutiques or whatever other marketing tells you your children need.
  6. Laundry – I don’t know of anyone who likes laundry, but I know that everyone likes everything done up and put away.  So do it!  We procrastinate and put it off and turn on Netflix and it doesn’t get done.  Is it really so torturous that we avoid it at all costs?  When I’ve thought about the ridiculousness of my procrastination with laundry and seen that in 10 minutes I can take out a load fold it and put it away, I just let everyone know that I need 10 minutes to do this and be done with it, and voila!  Its not on my bed, in the basket – which usually gets dumped out if you have a toddler.  I try to do each load when it comes out instead of waiting until I have several piled up. On another note, I have a “Laundry day” but I usually throw another load or two in during the week.

I hope these help and PLEASE share your tips for cutting down on kids clothes.