Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Month of Thanks

is thankful for Chrissy and her gift of the magical chair. It is perfect for nursing and snuggling and has saved me this past week. And I never would have had a chair as nice if not for her. (November 1st and 2nd "Thankfuls.")    Nov. 1 & 2
is thankful for the delicious smell of her littles.    Nov. 3
is thankful for fleece. It is very warm without that initial freeze when it is put on. Magical.    Nov. 4
is thankful that my mom is here to help Jake during my convalescence.    Nov. 5
is thankful that I only have to alter my clock twice a year.    Nov. 6
is thankful for indoor plumbing. Flushing toilets; sinks, showers and tubs with both hot and cold water; not having to deal with a pump or buckets....    Nov. 7
is thankful for the Netflix/screen & projector combo in her movie room.    Nov. 8
is thankful for little Wriggly smiles. The world is a fun, joke-filled place for him.    Nov. 9  
is thankful that I seem to be given the ability to do what needs to be done. Even if just barely.    Nov. 10  
is thankful her children are healthy.   Nov. 11   
is thankful that her children have the ability to flail, thrash and howl through their diaper changes.    Nov. 12   
is thankful for the sleepy-time cuddles bestowed by the Squiggle. Made all the more precious by their rarity.    Nov. 13    
is thankful that Squiggle is such a strong little girl. It will help her weather my parenting mistakes.    Nov. 14   
is thankful for whoever helps me tomorrow as I behave foolishly and venture out of my house without babysitters.  Nov. 15  
is thankful for a good day with good friends, made better by not re-injuring myself. Thanks to the Pinkpeas ladies for making my day out fun and stress-free. Brittany, Sarah, Amy, Phelicia and everyone else, grazie.      Nov. 16   
hates stuff right now. No thankfuls in the immediate future.   Nov. 17   
is thankful to have a nice house.   Nov. 18
is thankful to be healing.   Nov. 19
is thankful for the internet.   Nov. 20
just helped save a life. Our tortoise burrows flooded and we managed to pull Zira from the water that she was submerged under. Somehow Cornelius was already on dry ground. Thankful.    Nov. 21
is thankful to be ambidextrous.    Nov. 22
is thankful for her friends.   Nov. 23
is thankful for my family.   Nov. 24
Interesting that that last one pasted in a different boldness than the others. I lost track of this project this year. I always get sidetracked from remembering to be thankful. But I have many things to be thankful for, and I am. God has been good to me and I should try harder to focus on the things He's given me instead of my complaints. (Except for when they're funny.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Laundry Room

Oops. This is another post that I didn't publish for some reason. I've been going through and tagging the ones that I forgot to tag. Then I accidentally hit publish instead of save. 

Last week I decided to tackle my laundry room. It was perfect for my purposes. I wanted something that I could do, start to finish in one day. Something that would hopefully jump start a cleaning "mood" for me. I thought that if I could set a whole room to order it would give me motivation. Plus, it really needed to be cleaned.

There was lint everywhere. Since it is on the second floor it stands in a tub to catch any overflow. That tub was filthy. It had moist debris of indeterminable origin in it. (Not good for when a clean item falls during transport.) The washer had gunk, dust and flecks of yuck on the top and inside surfaces. It was fairly disgusting. Especially for something that is supposed to make things clean. The dryer was better but still had problems with the lint catcher. It needed to be vacuumed out. The shelf needed to be organized and the floor needed to be dealt with.

It started off well. I removed all the floor items such as drying rack, hamper, etc.  put them in the library thinking it would only be for the afternoon. (You already know where I'm going with this, don't you?) The vacuum took care of the floor. Then I decided to move the dryer. The dryer vent decided to protest. Mine was a Pyrrhic victory. The dryer moved but the vent didn't. Instead it ripped. Looking at it I could see why.It was about three inches long. Okay, that's an exaggeration. But it did not have enough length to be pulled out from the wall. It had the look of something that had previously ripped and been reused even though it didn't quite fit. (Not the first such situation in this house. We found duct tape subbing for a length of pipe under our sink.) Frankly, I'm impressed wit the skills of whoever attached the thing. There was simply not enough room for me to do it.
The fixed version.

This of course meant that my "day" project turned into a week project. My laundry backed up while I let time pass without traveling to Home Depot for a new duct. I did what I could. Vacuumed, dusted, mopped the yuck under the dryer, that sort of thing. But my groove had definitely been thrown off. When we finally got the dryer fixed I had lost my momentum. But it is finally done.

Floor is clean of debris. Washer and pan are wiped free of dust and crud. Dryer is de-linted. Drying racks, hamper, waste basket and rolling bin have been replaced. Shelves are organized as decently as they are likely to be. Laundry backlog has been dealt with. Even the rags used to clean up the filth. And yes, I do acknowledge the irony of using the washer to clean the rags that I used to clean the washer.
See the clean drip pan.

Now if something falls on the floor while being pulled out of the dryer it doesn't have to go straight back into the hamper. Bare feet no longer pick up grit. Most helpful of all though is seeing a whole room get set to order. Sure it is a small one. But it is done. Finished. All I need do is maintain it. Now that is motivating. And I intend to ride that motivation into more successes.
My first load drying in my newly cleaned laundry room.

Pessimism won't work.

I apparently wrote this in January of 2011. I have no idea why I didn't post it. Poor thing has just been sitting here, waiting for me to go through my posts and find it. I'm not going to alter it, this is the original draft.

I tend toward the negative.  I always have.  It's a character flaw that I've worked on at various points in my life.  I understand that pessimism doesn't work.  It robs people of initiative and makes happiness impossible.  Not to mention,  it's extremely unpleasant to others.  Really, who wants to be around someone who never stops complaining?

Since having my daughter, I've thought a lot about the person I want to be and the life I want to live.  After all, I am now a role model.  My child will look to me for cues on how to behave.  She will learn how to deal with disappointment, challenge and all those negative things by watching how I deal with them.  Do I whine and give up when things don't go how I feel they should?

During my periods of forced optimism a strange thing happens.  I actually AM happier.  Things seem to be better.  Is this because they are better?  Not really.  But my perception is shifted.  My circumstances haven't changed, only my focus.  I have fewer problems, but more challenges.

Our society tends to blame others for any issues we have.  It's the economy/my job/my upbringing/that person over there.  And so on.  If I were just treated the way I deserve to be treated, my life would be better.  If you would just _______ then I could be happy.  But since I am not treated fairly then I am released from any obligation to treat others decently.

Here's an interesting thing I've observed.  The happiest people are not the ones with the money/power/prestige/stuff.  They have normal jobs and bills to pay.  Their problems are the same as ours.  What they do have, that others do not, is gratitude and personal responsibility.  

Personal responsibility.  They recognize that they are in charge of their actions.  They, quite simply, choose to be happy.  Being accountable for your thoughts and actions isn't comfy.  It requires an acceptance that when things go wrong, you had a hand in causing it.  It means that when you do something wrong, it is because you CHOSE to.  The negative consequences are earned.  The flip side is, you can improve your situation.  You don't have to sit around waiting for someone to hand you the magic happiness wand.  You are capable of making choices and taking actions to set you on the right path.  It may not be easy.  In fact, it is almost guaranteed not to be.  But empowering?  Definitely.  Worth it?  I believe so.

Gratitude.  Being thankful for what you have.  It is so easy to overlook this.  After all, I deserve the good thing in my life, right?  I'm a good person.  I work hard.  It's the bad things that are thrust upon an innocent me.  It's so easy to overlook the good.  My beautiful daughter usually takes 1 1/2 to 2 hours to go to sleep at night.  During that time I'm in her room rocking her with my eyes closed so she will hopefully get bored and sleep.  There is so much I could do with that time.  If only she would go to sleep easier.  But during that time I get to hold my beautiful, ever growing not-rally-a-baby-anymore baby.  I get to cuddle her and give her the knowledge that she is important and loved.  When she finally goes to sleep I get to open my eyes and see her face in the peace that I helped create for her.  I get to kiss her sweet-smelling cheek.  (And it does smell sweet.  She smells delicious, but that is a different post.)  She is in my arms, safe in my home, happy and healthy.  So many things to be grateful for.

My Wonderful Recliner

I've now been laid up for three full weeks. Things are better now but it has been up and down. At times I've been unable to move. I don't know what it is. While my chiropractor suspected a pulled muscle and an out-of-place rib, I'm not so sure. It sounded reasonable. But last week my left side followed my right. I don't see how I could have injured both sides in the same way, a couple of weeks apart.

The doctor that I broke down and went to thinks it is my muscles compensating for the babying of the other side. All I know is that I felt my back muscles in spasm, painfully twitching for what seemed like an eternity. After a couple of days, when I could move my arms and breathe a bit better, I got online and started researching muscle spasms.

I've started upping my intake of calcium, potassium and magnesium, and I've even taken to drinking tonic water. (And my husband is coercing me into using the prescription ibuprofen.)

This ordeal is coming to a close, I hope. But the one thing that has enabled me to get through it as well as I have is my recliner. (Not what you thought I'd say, huh?) A friend gave it to me a while back. It is big enough for me, and my original thought was that I'd cuddle, rock and nurse my kids in it. And it is great for that. But it sits higher off the ground and a higher back than most chairs. I have been unable to lay down in a bed and the chair is the only place I have been able to tolerate sitting. I don't know how I would have slept without it and its nice recline.

Even though I have thought of many ideas for posts while unable to write them, I found my mind blank. So I decided an expression of thanks for my much loved chair would be appropriate.
The beloved children in the chair.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Projects: November 2011

I have a lot of projects that I've been meaning to get to. For me that means I'd like to have them done but don't have enough motivation to actually do them. It may be due to the amount of work or time involved, or because they don't seem fun or just because I don't really know how to and am afraid to invest the resources and fail. Half the time I forget what they are. So here's my list.

  • create master grocery list
  • create meat reference chart
  • create grocery price comparison sheet
  • rate the songs in iTunes
  • research drinking water (and find the best option between concerns about fluoride and ph)
  • research non-grain flours (to reconcile a paleo diet with a love for breads, pastas, baked treats, etc.)
  • create chore chart
  • create exercise regimen for health, weight loss and injury prevention
  • streamline meals (including meal planning and grocery purchase organization)
  • get computer issues worked out
  • relearn Photoshop
  • organize digital photos
These are the things that came to mind in the five minutes I gave myself to think about it. I'm sure there are more, I'm just not remembering them right now. I'd also like to get in the habit of blogging regularly.

I feel that once I get my personal life in order then maybe I can concentrate on my photography. It happens to be an area that I'm not only interested in, but I also have talent and training. If I could find confidence and time I would have a good shot at success. But I need to have fewer things pulling at the edges of my brain. So while I'm laid up I intend to make as much progress as I can on the computer related items as I can. It would be great to get some of those bullets fully crossed off my list before December. So that will be my goal.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Homemaking Binder: Meal Planning

I have decided to get serious about this homemaking binder thing. First on my list is the meal planning stuff. Master grocery list, price comparison lists, inventory sheets (for each cabinet, fridge, freezer, etc.) and a weekly meal sheet.

The reason I decided to start there is simple. Every night; let me repeat that, EVERY night we spend time deciding what to do for dinner. "What do you want to do for dinner?" is the most repeated phrase, adult to adult, in this house. By the time the question is asked it is usually too late to make most things, due to the time it would take to prepare it. Apparently some planning is required to fit in defrosting, chopping and whatever other steps are required to make a meal from scratch. While fish sticks and a bag of frozen cauliflower is a good thing to have on hand in a pinch, I don't want it to make up the bulk of our meals.
Tasty, not balanced. This plate would totally fall off the sofa arm.

While the problem has existed for the entirety of our marriage a while, recent events have brought it into the light. I've been incapacitated by an injury. So my husband and mom have had to pick up a lot of slack. On the one hand, it's nice to see that I do more than I thought I did, on the other hand... my household is slowly falling apart. Most things don't really matter. I can catch up on laundry later. Clutter can be dealt with when I am mobile. But we need food. There are five people in this household and only one of them isn't a problem to take care of come mealtime.

If I had a system, my mom would have been able to step in relatively easily. She can cook. What she can't do is plan and execute the meals. Up 'til now I usually spent 30 minutes digging through my various food storage devices waiting for inspiration. Not really a technique that lends itself to a pinch hitter.

So I will devise a system. It won't help now, but it will help in the future. Even if I never become indisposed again it will help me to be organized. Since I can't move I will create my templates. I'm sure they will require tweaking when I start using them, but having something in place will give me somewhere to start.