Author Archives: Darcy Cronin

About Darcy Cronin

I'm a Mother/Coach/Blogger/Business Adventurer from Portland OR. My family consists of my Hubby of 12 years, our 8yo Kieran, 5yo Makenna, and 1yo Teagan. I love dreaming about a better future, and making it happen.

Simplicity Parenting – Book Review

I just finished reading Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne, and it really inspires me to take simple living to the next step. The book was both fascinating and practical. 


The fascinating aspect was his many case studies detailing how badly kids react to the modern norm of filling family life with lots and lots of stuff and adding a booked calendar on top. As a psychologist, decades of experience showed how children with post-traumatic stress disorder paralleled the ill effects of overwhelmed kids. I’ve felt instinctively for some time that kids don’t need all this stuff, but I never realized/reflected on the damage that it could do.


The practical aspects came on many levels, and he really had sage advise for simplifying virtually all realms of family life. There were many areas where we already try to live those values, but we surely have room for improvement. We’ve tried to limit gifts from family members and not overwhelm birthdays with stuff, but it’s not always easy. 


I felt relieved that I found this book when my kids are still young and we haven’t gotten on the over-scheduled child treadmill. Our Big Guy just finished his first season of t-ball, and even though he loves the game, I’m ready for him to take a break until next year. Hubby would prefer to sign him up for soccer in the fall, but the most I want to take on is a once a week swim class a few block walk from home.


Ironically, we we’ve been so busy camping that I haven’t had the time to really take action toward increased simplicity, but my major goal this autumn will be to cull toys and purge the basement (which never seems to get done!) Even though they probably have about half the toys of peers, I know our kids barely use a quarter of their toys on a regular basis, so I really want to set up a toy rotating system and simply get rid of lots.


This brief trailer of Payne’s insights really gives the essence of his philosophy on parenting, and hopefully will inspire you to read his book and take action in your family life:



Simplicity Parenting from Kim Payne on Vimeo.


Have you read Simplicity Parenting? 
What steps are the most important to simplification?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Travel Countdown!

Now that we’ve had a week away camping and week to recoup, it’s time to get busy with the countdown for our trip to Denmark. I still have to pinch myself when I think of all the people and places I’ve missed for so many years…I can hardly wait to reconnect and show my family the beautiful little country that feels like part of myself.


There are plenty of pre-trip tasks, but thankfully I think we’ll manage just fine with almost three weeks to go. I’m patiently awaiting the arrival of my renewed passport…after I made the bonehead mistake of filling it out in pencil…not panicking yet…


I’m also realizing that I was a bit conservative on our original travel budget, which makes me really glad that we bought our tickets for a great price on Icelandair.


Initially I thought we would spend almost all of our time with my many lovely hosts families, and while we still plan on spending the majority of our time together, I agreed with Hubby that we need to take some time to explore Denmark as a family. 


I just booked 2 nights each at youth hostels near Legoland and Skagen at the tip-top of Denmark. 4 nights at a hostel with a private room for four will run us 1400 dkk or $488. The good news is that Danish hostels set a very high standard and are typically very clean and come with a nice Danish-style continental breakfast. I think it will be well worth the effort and expense to travel so extensively. I can also feel good about sticking to a budget…I actually booked an apartment rental for $379 for just two nights before we decided that we really should stay on a “hostel budget.” It makes me more grateful than ever for all of my generous host families.


What are you saving up and counting down for?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Family Camping Tradition

We’re starting July with our favorite family tradition: camping.


It’s actually a series of trips, first a fourth of July weekend trip to Dodge Park with four other families (call us crazy to take 5 two year olds, a 4 yo, and two 5 yo to the woods!). Then the kids and my Twin Sis and I are headed to the Oregon Country Fair, including a memorial service for our father. Meanwhile, Hubby will be taking another solo vacation to mentor teens on a backpacking trip in the Olympics.  


I’ve already written plenty about the logistics of family camping in previous posts:

Frugal Family Camping – Tips for planning ahead

Family Camping Gear – An earful on camp gear



Group camping is far more affordable and feasible than planning a group vacation. With our five family gathering over two nights no one has to cook more than once! Plus, there are more eyes and hands to go around, and we were truly smart this time and invited aunts/uncles without kids of their own…built-in kid entertainers 🙂 Each family will easily spend less than $100 for a full weekend including camp fees, food and gas…although gas seems to get higher and higher, good thing our destination is less than an hour from town.


Our kids truly love camping, and camping is really the best way to get out in nature. I also think its the best way to really share family time and to get together with other families. The truth is that if you have friends over for dinner/playdate, the max you’ll hang out is about three hours, which is just enough to catch up. Camping together really allows families to reconnect and bond. Growing up, we had several families who we only ever saw for annual camping trips and they are the family friends I am the closest with now. Family camping is a tradition that virtually every family can afford and the memories are priceless.



Hence, I won’t be posting until the week after next…enjoy your holiday!


Does your family save money by camping?


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Sustainable Family Finances 

The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Service Magic

Maybe it’s just because our home is over a hundred years old, but there always seems to be one home repair project or another. 


Just this past weekend, our exterior water spigot sprang a constant leak. We were actually kind of lucky that it lasted as long as it did, when we moved in three summers ago the turnoff valve didn’t work, but the on/off Y valve for the two hoses managed just fine, so we never bothered to fix it. Unfortunately, such a tenuous set up couldn’t stand the test of a five year old’s enthusiastic hose/horse play.


Since neither of us are handy beyond very basics (at least Hubby quickly found the water source to turn off!), we’ve relied on Service Magic to find small project handy-workers. Service Magic is kind of like Angie’s List, but it’s free and they do the screening for you. We used them several times to get multiple quick bids for small projects (drywall repair, window installations, chimney repair…well that was a spendy little project.)


I really like Service Magic, because it helps me feel like it gives us enough quality bids to make an informed decision. On top of being professionally screened, they are customer-rated, so you know if they ever really screwed anyone this info would be included. I also like how they help speed up the bid gathering process, because that’s not how I want to spend my time.


I’ve only ever used them for home repair, but apparently they’ve expanded to other service areas like senior care, wedding services, photography…


Have you used Service Magic for a home repair project?


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Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

With My Own Two Hands

Been busy planning a memorial service for my father at the Oregon Country Fair, so I don’t really have time to write…plus we finally managed to spread the last of our organic mulch, so I dead tired. 


When I need a little inspiration I turn to music. Nothing can get me past my own helplessness and insecurity like listening to Ben Harper. I quickly realize that “With My Own Two Hands” I can do anything. Abundance is all about perspective:







Who inspires you?


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Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.