Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanks Giving

This Thanksgiving Eve, I sit, surrounded by sleeping children - most of whom are mine - anticipating the huge surprise that is just hours away. I'm stressed. I'm in pain. I did waaaay too much today. But I'm thankful. Thankful my body held up today. Thankful that children went to bed so nicely tonight. Thankful that, once Miss M is picked up, I'm tired enough that I should hopefully fall to sleep quickly after a relaxing shower to calm my muscles and joints. I'm thankful that our van is in working order, everything that needs to be packed has been packed (I hope!), and that we have loving family awaiting our arrival in PA for Thanksgiving ... a trip our kids will find out about (SURPRISE!) at around 1AM when we force them out of their nice warm beds into the cold, cold night to hopefully sleep peacefully most of the 8-10 hour drive. 

Mostly, I'm thankful for friends who helped me through the day, encouraging me to keep my flagging spirits up as my gratitude for the many blessings of my day got buried under an avalanche of unexpected problems and emotions. Having such supportive, understanding people in my life is one of life's greatest blessings.

I wish everyone at blessed Thanksgiving weekend!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Flare for the Dramatic

For me, there are two different types of PsA flares. There’s the big huge one I’ve been in for nearly a year now, and there are the intense flares within the big flare, like the one I’m experiencing now, that make life just that much more fric … errr….unbea…ummm… interesting.

As I type, I’m sitting here under my big huge heavy blanket trying to keep my joints warm, entertain small children and not give in to cranky demands of a certain nap-resistant child. Thank goodness my computer, as well as my latte, are nice and warm. Not to be overdramatic, but it’s flippin’ cold in here! According to the weather channel, it’s 42 degrees outside, which means it’s roughly 43 degrees in here. Why, you ask, do I choose to sit in the cold when I’m in the middle of a flare? Because here in the non-heated part of the warehouse that houses our homeschool co-op is where the toys and books and fun stuff are. And there, on the other side of the door, in the heated theater, is where two of my children are rehearsing. And besides, the cozy warm cafĂ© is too small for general running around and too close to the play rehearsal that’s underway – and I am not, I repeat NOT, allowed to know anything that’s going on in the play until the actual performance tomorrow night on threat of beheading. There are knights with real swords in this play, so I’m not going to mess with them.  Besides, the kids are having a blast, these Hoteeze pads are working wonderfully, and I get to rest for a few hours, which never happens. Well, rest my body, anyway. Apparently this is the day of 1,000 questions and we’re only up to number 327, so I must go now and explain the difference between Marmite and marmosets and other important things.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dear Self,

Please slow down.
Please stop doing so much.
Please be gentle with yourself.
Have fun with the kids.
Help the kids have fun with the housework.

Take time out every day for YOU.
Treat yourself with kindness.
Lower your expectations.
Accept that messy is the new clean.
Enjoy life, don't struggle through it.

Thank you.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Rannygahoots Guide to SPORKS

After four days of strenuous research, Rannygahoots Laboratories has put together the following guide on Surviving Power Outages Relatively Kinda Sanely:

Step 1: LIGHT
In case of emergency, you should always have flashlights with batteries, candles, and hundreds of glow sticks on hand. Most important are the glow sticks, preferably the kind you can bend into bracelets, as these provide not only an amazing amount of light, but entertainment value as well. See before and after photos below...

Body heat is a ready source of warmth. Gather vast quantities of blankets, put some mattresses together on the floor, and share your body heat. Refrain from saying whiny things like, "He's touching me!" or "She's too close to me!" because closeness is essential to the conduction of body heat and besides, it drives your mother up the wall and it isn't very warm up the wall. 

Step 3: SAFETY
Your house is usually a safe haven, but should branches and trees decide to fall on it, you might need to evacuate. Then safety takes on a whole new meaning. Have food, water, and blankets in the vehicle with you. Drive slowly, but not so slowly you lose traction on hills. Dodge things like power lines and fallen trees whilst trying not to slide around on the road and/or into another vehicle. Try not to say words you don't want the kids in your vehicle to repeat. If your trip to the local shelter fails, find somewhere with electricity and a bathroom, preferably a 24 hour restaurant with sympathetic waitstaff. If you have children with you, plan on 172 trips to the bathroom in a 2 hour period. When you find permanent shelter, realize that being safe is more important than having power or being warm and be thankful for the darkness and the cold, as it comes with a roof over your head and a lack of large falling objects. 

Step d: FOOD
Don't forget to eat, even at inappropriate hours if it gets you a warm place to be for a couple hours. Hot food is better than cold food, but any food will do. Especially chocolate. 

Step 5: FUN
What's a power outage without a little fun. Remember the glow sticks? Try making animal shapes. 

Play games - you know, like board games or card games. If you're not familiar with such things, they are types of games that don't require batteries or electricity, but can be incredibly amusing. 

Make shadow puppets. Slide down stairs in your footie pajamas (which are wonderful to wear when it's cold in the house). 

Read books. Write out your holiday wish list. Lock your parent out of the house.

Or give your camera to a 3-6 year old and see if you can identify what they took pictures of ... any guesses on these...?

Step *: PRAY
Pray ceaselessly and humbly. Don't pray for your own power to come on, as that would be selfish. Instead pray for your neighbors' power to return. 

Step Zzz: SLEEP
After all, when you're asleep, you don't notice the cold!  Just be wary of the aforementioned camera-toting 3-year-old when deciding on your napping spot.

WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS: Great amounts of heat are created by freaking out, so go ahead and get it over with. You may not feel better afterwards, but you'll be a little warmer.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Alive! and, well....

It's been a harrowing four days. Four days? It's only been FOUR DAYS???
*takes deep breath and starts again*
It's been a harrowing four days. It started with snow in October. A LOT of snow. Over a FOOT of snow. In OCTOBER. Really. See? (before)

Do you know what happens when you get over a foot of snow on trees that still have leaves? They break. Breaking trees are Loud. Trees and branches crashing to the ground are loud. Trees and branches falling on your house are LOUD and cause you to evacuate. At midnight. In the snow. Here's how events unrolled from there...
(photo: during)
12:46AM: decide we cannot make it up the hill to the nearest shelter after dodging trees and downed power lines (the shelter is 4 minutes from our house on a good day) and go back down the hill
1:13AM: arrive at gas station that has power, fill tank, buy water, call every hotel and motel in 40 mile radius to find that there is not a single room to be had
1:33AM: decide to see if truck stop a few exits down the highway is open, dodge more downed trees (on the highway!!!), power lines, stuck vehicles, etc.
1:52AM: arrive at truck stop. Thank God that it's open. Use bathroom. Order food. Take various combinations of kids to the bathroom 172 times over the next 2 hours and refuse to buy them any of the requested items from the store that's in between the restaurant and the bathroom

4:00AM: decide everyone's too tired and needs to sleep and go back to van, warm up van, and everyone sleeps except Mama, who keeps the van warm and listens to the news on the radio
6:00AM: Mama hears announcement that highways have mostly been cleared. Wake Daddy and decide to try to make it to Gramma and Papa's house.
6:38AM: Arrive in Naugatuck, drive through downtown to see if Dunkin Donuts is open, rejoice in the fact that it is, buy a "box 'o' joe" and brave the hill to Gramma and Papa's house
6: 52AM: Arrive at Gramma and Papa's house.

I then put myself to bed and didn't wake up until 1PM. We were very blessed to stay with my parents until this morning, when we decided it was time to return home - and when, seemingly miraculously, our house regained POWER! Homeowner's insurance will cover the damage to our house and the removal of the tree leaning on our house and the pile of large branches leaning on our house...if we can find a contractor available to do such things.
Above: All that was ON our house during the storm
Below: The view out our back door - the tree in the middle of the photo 
is split at the base and is leaning on our house

This adventure has brought many blessings and a great sense of gratitude. Gratitude that we made it safely through the scariest night of my adult life; that our house wasn't damaged too badly; that my parents welcomed a horde of rannygahoots into their house and took wonderful care of us all even though they didn't have power; gratitude for gas-powered hot water heaters and stove-tops; for flashlights, candles and the hundreds of glowsticks in my possession at the time of the storm; and for the warmth that comes from knowing you have a safe, warm(ish) place to rest your head and your heart.