Thursday, July 28, 2011

Second-hand Life

"Where did you get that?"

Anyone who knows me well, knows the most likely answer I’ll give if asked that question: “at the thrift store,” or “freecycle,” or “from _insert name of friend or family member here__” … but very rarely, ”we bought it retail.”

I look around my house and am constantly reminded of all the people who have blessed and are blessing my life, who no longer needed objects which I welcomed into my home … shelves that used to be the Witwers, Sue’s cedar chest, the tin-top table my parents gave us, the cabinet that was in the kitchen of my childhood home that now houses crockpots and craft supplies in mine, bins from Dawn, bookcases from my sister, Jennie’s painting, a trunk from the Finers, things made for me by my husband and kids, a beautiful skirt from Heidi, a tv and vcr (yes, we still watch things on vhs!) from Sharon, and so much more. And then there are the treasures collected from thrift stores and yard sales. Even our cat is second-hand, a “special needs” adult cat adopted from the Humane Society. Perhaps my favorites are the several-feet-tall penguins that adorn our deck, sneaked into our yard by friends before they moved across the country.

Living a second-hand life not only means we save money, but we help save the planet as well. We reduce our carbon footprint by reusing or repurposing our own and other people’s stuff instead of buying it new. Legs rusted off the grill? No problem – we just put it on a cast iron fish tank stand (and recycle the legs!). Our annual pirate party wouldn’t be quite the same without our tag-saled ship’s wheel, our thrift-shopped shower curtain sail, and the boat sandbox from church friends. Why buy storage containers when our food comes in them? From big bulk artichoke heart jars to glass peanut butter jars to jelly jars to baby food jars, we have the perfect size jar for just about anything, and they’re dishwasher safe. Plastic food containers make great storage for craft supplies. Yogurt cups make great plant pots. And the list goes on.

A friend and I were recently talking about how wonderful second-hand living is and she said I must be the goddess of second-hand living. I looked at her kids, and said that she definitely had me beat – she even has second-hand kids. She looked at her foster kids for a moment, lost in thought … then smiled and with a tear in her eye said, “Yeah, second hand kids are the best. And all they cost is love.” 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Notes to self:

  • When you hear two 3 year olds say words like “flick” and “farthest” along with a lot of giggling, check to see what they’re doing RIGHT AWAY. Waiting until you have finished reading the book to the 1 year old gives the 3 year olds enough time to flick approximately 237 tiny playdough balls all over the dining room.
  •  When you’re relaxing on the bed with the sleeping 1 year old while the 3 year olds are napping and the big kids are entertaining themselves and you hear the ripping of Velcro behind you, act quickly, our you just might get a wet cloth diaper in the face.
  • When you joke with the scary 3 year old about having spider pie for dinner, expect her to be upset when you don’t actually have spider pie for dinner. And be prepared to be asked by said 3 year old whether or not spiders are edible, be told to google it when you say you don’t know, and to insist that we’re not going to find edible spiders tomorrow upon discovering that there are indeed edible spiders.
  • And most importantly – when opening a new prescription of brain-altering painkillers, examine the pills closely to make sure they’re the proper dosage, not half again what you’ve been prescribed. Why? Because they may make you a little more loopy than normal. Or a lot more loopy than normal.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Matter of Perspective

She walks around the house, wonder and amazement written all over her face, as if she’s never been here before. “Wow! Wow! Oh, wow!” She walks, arms outstretched, pointing here and there, running her hands along surfaces, brow furrowing should anyone impede her movements. Although she’s been in this house several times a week for a good portion of her life, it’s as if her surroundings are completely new to her. She squeals with delight as she rounds a corner, as if a whole new world has been opened up to her. Perhaps it’s the change in perspective she’s had recently.

As I watch her, I think to myself just how amazing, refreshing and helpful a change in perspective can be. Like when I’m having a bad day and then I have a conversation with someone whose life has just been turned upside-down and suddenly my day doesn’t seem so bad after all. Or when I choose to look at a mistake I made or loss I endured as a lesson learned instead of a tragic event. Perspective changes come in very handy when parenting as well - like when one of my children is in a bad mood and instead of feeding their mood with the frustration I tend to feel, I’m able to use humor and love to transform their attitude and our day.

One of the biggest changes in perspective I’ve had recently has centered on my need to slow down and learn how to live with my psoriatic arthritis, rather than fight my body to maintain an unreasonable level of activity. It’s been difficult to go from doing to being. Finding joy in stillness and slowness has had its challenges but has created a sense of balance and the ability to live in the moment. Physical slowness has allowed me to slow down my thoughts and perceptions so that I can move thoughtfully through my day and has transformed my world into one of beauty and relative peace. I notice more of the beauty of the world around me and in the people around me. I have more time to be thankful for the blessings in my life, to let go of the what-ifs and concentrate on the now.

It’s as if I’m allowing myself to see the world with new eyes – with the eyes of a young child who sees the splendor of the clouds moving across the blue sky, is curious about the ladybug on the windowpane, and revels in the feel of mud between their toes. And who delights in the newly gained perspective that going from crawling to walking offers – just like 14-month-old Maggie as she wanders through my house, face beaming with excitement at this new perspective on things. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Not until you tell them both who I really am!

My 3-year-old’s reasons for not going to sleep:
  •           I need bandaids because I have a scratch.
  •           There’s a spider in the corner of the room and Coren is afraid of it.
  •           My heartbeat is too loud and it’s keeping me awake.
  •           Coren is sleeping too loudly.
  •           My hiccups are driving me to craziness.
  •           Coren is sleeping too quietly for me to sleep.
  •           I need to watch Grinch Night before I can sleep.
  •           My legs keep standing me up.
  •           When I close my eyes I see too much pink and it’s freaking me out.
  •           My belly tells me it needs me to bake cupcakes.
  •           I think I need this medicine for hiccups. (It’s not for hiccups.) For coughing? (It’s not for coughing.) For a headache? (No.) For my legs hurting? (No.) What is it for, then, because I think I have that?
  •           Daddy hasn’t scared the jeebers out of me yet.
  •           I need to tell Daddy about his pizza that we made for him.
  •           There’s something on the ceiling.
  •           I’m too tired to sleep.
  •     I'm worried I won't look frightening enough for myself tomorrow.
  •     I'm pretty sure Alia's don't sleep until much darker. (Said using "the voice.")
 So much on the mind of a slightly frightening 3 year old who doesn't want to sleep!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

PSA on PsA

People ask me what life is like living with Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA). I’ve tried many ways of explaining it that just don’t do it justice. The easiest way I can explain it is as follows:

The PsA in my body is a toddler.  Upon waking in the morning, the PsA says, “Guess what?” and my instinct is to say “What?” but there’s the moment beforehand when I know that I really don’t want to know the answer. Luckily my body doesn’t give typical toddler answers like, “I wet the bed,” or “Remember the cake you told me not to touch?” Instead it says things like, “Betcha can’t hobble to the bathroom in under 2 minutes!” or “Remember how you could move your ankles yesterday?”

And then there’s running errands. Imagine taking a toddler to the grocery store just before naptime. Great idea, eh?  As soon as you get there, they’re too tired to walk. Or they throw a fit in the middle of the store because they’re too tired to deal and need a nap. Or they demand so much of your attention that you find it difficult to concentrate on finding the things you need and eventually give up and just purchase the things in your cart and call it a day, hoping to return to the store without the toddler, but knowing that’s not likely to happen.  That’s PsA for you!

Communication skills rank right up there with toddler communication as well, depending on exhaustion levels, medication levels, and whether or not you’ve been able to sleep. Pointing and grunting are a common method of communication. Some days it’s a miracle you’re able to form a full sentence. Other days you bowl people over with coherent and intelligent statements that one would hear in normal adult conversation. Occasionally you say something absolutely brilliant, but it’s usually an accident.

But some days you find you have a cooperative toddler on your hands. Life is fun. It’s easy. You get down on the floor and play. You take a walk in the park. You still need a nap in the afternoon, but are able to move through your day with only the usual unsteady toddler stumbles.

All in all, if you treat a toddler with love and respect his or her limitations, life can have its ups and downs, its good days and bad, its days when it’s better off not to leave the house and its days when getting out of the house is a must. The same goes for my PsA. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Large Absent-minded Spirit

Things I forgot today:
  •           To put dinner in the crockpot before I left this morning (Thank you, dear husband, for doing that for me)
  •           To put the HP7 Part1 dvd in my purse upon leaving the house this morning.
  •           To get coffee on the way to Homeschool Hangout so I could take my pain meds
  •           Three things at the grocery store, even though they were on my list … because I forgot that
  •           I had a list of things to get at the grocery store in my purse
  •           To put the HP7 dvd in my purse upon leaving the house to go to the CSA, where I would be handing it off to my parents (yes, that’s twice in one day I forgot the dvd – but I did go back to get it!)
  •          That dinner was in the crockpot – I almost made a different dinner (DamnItAll, Tramadol!)
  •           That my kids owe me money from our trip to the thrift store today … and from out trip to Target on Sunday, come to think of it!

       So all in all a good day. After all...
  •           I herded five kids in and out of the van in various parking lots and no one got run over
  •           I exited the grocery store and the thrift store with the same number of kids with which I entered
  •           I remembered to put everything that is supposed to go in the fridge and freezer into the appropriate places  so I don’t find any “surprises” in bags in my kitchen (or van!) later this week - not that this ever happens
  •           I’m still alive to type about it!

This blog post brought to you by semi-cooperative children, an absentminded Mama, and a fair amount of Tramadol.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Thank you for your call...

Thank you for calling, but I don’t need my chimney swept. Actually, I don’t have a chimney. Yes, it’s possible to not have a chimney. It’s called electric heat. Really. The entire house. No, no furnace. No fireplaces. No chimney. Ductwork? We don’t have any of that either. How does the heat … Google “radiator.”

Thank you for calling, but we don’t watch tv. Yes, we OWN at tv, but we don’t watch tv. What do we watch? Dvds. Sometimes we stream videos online. No, we don’t want to watch tv. At all. Really.

Thank you for calling, but we STILL don’t watch tv. Yes, someone from your company called last week. We haven’t changed our minds. Yes, really, no tv watching. *In a dreamy voice* We prefer to watch the clouds move gracefully across the sky, the wind rustling the leaves of the trees, the patterns the frost makes on the windows, squirrels scampering to and fro … why just this morning we watched a spider spin its web – fascinating!

Thank you for your call, but we don’t want a subscription to your publication. We’re not into killing trees for our potential education and / or amusement.

Thank you for your call, but we don’t need windows or siding.  We don’t believe in windows and our house doesn’t have any sides.

Thank you for your call – I’m so glad you contacted me! Do I have a deal for you! Could I interest you …hello?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Take One

Scene: The movie theater. 2 parents, 2 tween boys. A big tub of popcorn. 
Boys happily munching popcorn. 
Birthday Boy gets strange look on face and removes what appears to be a chewed piece of popcorn from his mouth.
Birthday Boy exclaims: There was a rubber band in the popcorn!
Dad: You can do one of two things here - you can either forget about the stinky old rubber band in the popcorn or take it to the concession stand and ask for a new one. 
Birthday Boy: A new rubber band?
Laughter ensues.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Beware of the Rannygahoots!

"My heart pounded as I peered out into the darkness – there were two eyes staring at me. Two red eyes. No, four red eyes….five?... six!...eight!!! Eight red eyes glowing in the night, and they were getting closer..."

So begins a story about Rannygahoots that my children and I are writing in honor and remembrance of their great-grandfather, Pappy, who warned his grandchildren not to go out at night because the Rannygahoots would get them. 

Although not glowing red, I often wake to two...or four ... or occasionally eight eyes staring at me through the darkness, pleading with me to allow them, and the children they're attached to, into my bed. I've at times offered to give up the bed to the children (and my husband, who sleeps through just about anything) and go sleep in one of the kids' beds, but they tell me that's not the point. They're too smart for my own good, and for my hopes of sleeping without an elbow in my back and toes in my belly button. 

Some day I will sleep through the night. I may even go to the potty all by myself. (I bet you thought these things only pertained to infants and toddlers!) But for now, I'll enjoy the knees and elbows, the sleep interruptions and togetherness ... these are the best times of my life!