I received a typical message from my friend Cheryl at 8:07 one morning.
"Good morning. I have taken the girls to school, run by the post office, started the dishwasher, swept and mopped the kitchen, put clothes in the washer and dryer, tidied downstairs, decorated the table for Easter, wiped down the bathroom counters and swept the bathroom floor."
I read her cheery words two hours later, still wearing my pajamas, rubbing the sleep from my bleary eyes.
So far that morning, I had gotten out of bed, made a cup of coffee and stumbled to the computer to print our daily schedule.
Cheryl has been a good friend for over a decade. Our oldest children were born within a few days of each other, and our younger kids' birthdays are just five months apart.
She has girls and I have boys, but it has been such fun sharing this parenting journey with her.
Cheryl's not only a wonderful mother; she's a wise, insightful writer. I enjoy reading her private blog, cleverly named "June Cleaver in a Britney Spears World."
A recent entry on simplicity resonated so deeply with me that I asked permission to share it here.
She graciously agreed to my request.
I now give you Cheryl and hope you enjoy her words as much as I did.
"Is it really progress? I have been ruminating over what we call progress.
I love my appliances, don't get me wrong. I am not chomping at the bit to go back to scrubbing clothes on a wash board with lye soap.
But, I wonder if we realize what 'progress' has cost us.
Maybe I am older than most, but I remember having one or two dresses for Sunday. Generally we got a new dress for Easter and one for Christmas - usually made by my Mom.
My girls have a ton of dresses, and they don't even have to wear them to school like I did for years.
I do laundry almost everyday. Why? Because we have too many clothes. Even I have too many clothes. How many pairs of jeans does one person really need?
I think about how small the closets are in my Mom's house, which was built in the early 1960s. The closets were smaller because people had less, needed less to get by on a daily basis. How many everyday dresses did one woman need? And, like me, Mom only had a couple of dresses for Sundays.
People don't like small closets now. They like to be able to walk in and look at their wealth of clothes.
So, I have been pondering downsizing. If I got rid of some of the clothes - OK, a lot of the clothes - I would have less laundry to do.
My daughter Katie only wears two pairs of jeans and about six tops. She has three pairs of Capri pants. Why do I have an entire basketful of clothes for her on laundry day?
Then there are the outgrown clothes I save for her sister, Amanda. But why do I do it? Her tastes in clothing are different than her sister's. Not to mention she is built differently, and a lot of the clothes won't fit her when the time comes.
I need to get rid of most of the saved clothes, except for some basic shorts and tops for summer. There is some kid somewhere who would be glad to have these.
Then there are my clothes. Admittedly I have less than I used to have; being at home does not require me to wear business suits. But, I could still pare more.
I wear the same things over and over. I need to get rid of the lower levels of the stacks in my closet, get rid of the items I don't wear.
The clothing closet at our church is forever requesting plus-sized clothes. I could outfit a couple of women with my excess.
Then there are linens. I read somewhere that the best thing to do is have one set of sheets for each bed. Take them off, wash them and put them back on. What? No stacks of pretty matched linens? What a novel idea.
Most of my towels are so old they are threadbare, re-hemmed or generally in need of being tossed. I wonder if we only had one towel apiece, would I quit finding towels stashed in the toy box and closet?
Simplifying - I think I need to do it. Maybe that is what real progress is about."
Kari Apted may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheryl Novak may be reached at email@example.com.