Monthly Archives: January 2012

Look Who Came to Town!

SORry about the glare on the photo. I’m a writer, not a photographer. Ha.

This blog has gone through many permutations, but it started out as a decluttering blog. And it’s kind of come around again to that theme. So, I’ve been tearing through cupboards and the basement (and would tear through closets if we had any LOL) paring down, sprucing up, shifting around, and moving out.

One time, many moons ago, the man of the house decided it would be a fine idea to buy a 100-count package of shish kebab skewers. It probably was a good idea, although I think we still have about 97 of them. Anyway, recently I freed them from that cabinet and set them on the counter (I’ll just put this here for right now). I kept looking at them, trying to decide what to do with them (excitement abounds some days). Then, my friend Randi, RAN(di)OMLY posted on her facebook about how she uses skewers for all manner of tasks around the house. Eureka, I cried!

I’d always appreciated the skewer’s little cousin, the toothpick, for cleaning jobs, but I could see what a boon to mankind skewers would be for the careful, albeit infrequent, housecleaner.

The skewers have a raison d’etre in my home now. Maybe someday I’ll even make shish kebabs.

Just (don’t) do it!

Let us count the ways I am not like an NFL player:

My shoulders are nice, but I wouldn’t call them broad.
My weight doesn’t begin with a 2 or a 3.
My height doesn’t begin with “6 foot.”
No one is planning to give me a $28 million bonus. (Go, Payton!)

Let us count the ways I am like an NFL player.

I’m a decent football player, albeit retired now. (1968-1970 Kill the Man with the Ball, Steve Schaub’s backyard)
I like to do a little dance when I cross a goal line.
I have a coach. (Hi, Dave!)
My team depends on me.
And, of course, as of 7:45 a.m. January 9, 2012, I have now been concussed.

It was a dark and stormy night. No. It was dark, but not stormy, and it was morning. Having suddenly become a two-car family over the weekend (car #4 at college with daughter #1, and car #3 sold for cash on the barrelhead), we decided I would drive Greg to work so Joel and I could each have a car this week instead of leaving the egg in the Toyota parking lot to maybe have her catalytic converter stolen again. On Mondays, though, I also need to drive Anna-Jessie to PEP, so after dropping Greg at work, and taking the scenic route out of the parking lot (pesky hidden exits), I picked up Anna-Jessie and we headed to PEP.

Normally, I drop her off at the door and keep right on going. Yesterday, I decided to stop in and say hello to everyone. As I’m already always striding purposefully forth, I was going at a nice clip when I decided to leap ahead and open the door for Anna-Jessie. My croc got stuck on the sidewalk, which propelled me forward, running at warp speed about 6 feet right into the door, headfirst.

About 12 hours later, after a day of knowing my head hurt and taking it easy, I was at the doctor’s office where I found out I had a concussion. His prescription: 24 hours of doing *nothing.” Nothing mentally challenging, not even reading. No physical activity either. I suggested we post-date the 24 hours and start them at the time of impact, but he didn’t think that was a good idea. Then, after 24 hours of nothing, I am to do 24 hours of mental activity only, but still no physical. Then 24 hours of mental and light physical, etc. Fortunately, he was preaching to the choir about the importance of eliminating the symptoms of concussion, so I gladly undertook 24 hours of nothing. (ok, 20).

During the day yesterday when I was unaware of the actual diagnosis, I had put on my new nike outfit so I could get warm. The tights have “Just Do It” printed on the side. Somehow I don’t think Nike meant that to apply to doing nothing. But that is what I needed to just do.

A few reflections::

I noticed that my concussed brain can tell the difference between my own original thoughts and dreams, and the words and images that come from outside, and that it’s nice sometimes to just be quiet with my own thoughts.

I observed that I am quite attached to my phone, with facebook, texts, words with friends, and my kindle all at my fingertips, and I missed all of those things! I love the contact I have with people, even if it’s virtual!

I experienced that taking it easy, doing nothing, was a really good idea for my brain and that I feel better having had some rest.

I decided that lying down in a public place on a tile floor is not the least embarrassing when I feel like I am going to faint.

I had it re-affirmed that my kids are super troupers.

I recognized that I need to pick my feet up higher when I wear my crocs, if I’m even going to keep wearing them.

I saw that my instinctive question “Why did this happen?” was about wanting to find some sort of control in the situation.

I noticed that this experience threw me off of what I was expecting and planning to do yesterday, today and this week, and I’m curious about what these days will hold instead.

Happy New Year! Let’s Get Moving!

This isn’t my house, but isn’t it pretty? I’m not sure I’d want to go the whole nine yards on minimalist decorating, but I do love the clean look.

As I’ve considered lately what I want to create in our home, I’ve been imagining a home with a feeling of space in it, even in a 1500 sq. ft. home filled with 6 active people full-time, and a 7th who visits between semesters.

For me, a feeling of space comes from …

Clear surfaces
Natural light
Few things in any particular area

The first four were no-brainers, but I was a little surprised by Movement. Living things move. I looked up the six characteristics of living things, and the first one said that living things are highly organized, from the smallest part to the largest. Well, my doorbell isn’t alive, but there is a sense of life in a living, warm, comfortable home, at least in my imaginings!

Movement shows up in all sorts of areas in a home. For instance, food. Ideally, food is carried into the house by my strapping strong sons, put away in the refrigerator and cabinets, and then cooked (or not) and eaten. The remains of the packaging are trashed or recycled, possibly composted, and the food disappears one way or another — like it’s supposed to! That’s what food it for. There is movement in that process. Contrast that to bottles of salad dressing in the refrigerator door with expiration dates from two years ago, or taco shells that have been in the cabinet for, like, a year (true-life example, that one).

Thinking of movement brought up the contrasting condition, where an item comes into the house and then stays . . . and stays . . . and stays. One jar of verde sauce in the cabinet? No biggie. Multiply it by 200 or 500 things throughout the house (and garage), and there’s a super-duper recipe for clutter.

I suppose we’ve all read those decluttering tips: (read in Martha Stewart’s voice) 1. Box up items you’re not sure about. If you don’t need to get into the box in 6 months, you can donate it without ever looking iin it again! (Peter Walsh now) When you switch out your seasonal clothes, hang them all with the hangers backwards. At the end of the season, anything that hasn’t been moved goes out the door. All kinds of clever ways to tell yourself whether or not you need something. I would say that the most current decluttering advice is more like to address the more philosophical and spiritual issues, but there’s quite a boatload of information out there to plow through.

So I’m on the lookout for things that have gotten “stuck” in our home.

While I’m finding the stuckies and moving them along, I am also thinking about the things that will inevitably come in the front door. For food? I want to buy products that are destined to be used because I have a plan for them. I haven’t been doing any meal planning lately. Just couldn’t muster up the energy for it. But I’m connecting planning meals with having the food on hand we need AND leaving the food we DON’T need at the store (or on the internet, my most favoritest shopping place in the world).

Past attempts have focused on the “thou shalt not’s” and efforts to find some list of 10 fool-proof ways to keep your house decluttered. What a breath of fresh air to be looking at the “yes do’s!!”

Not everything is going to come in and then go out. Some things are going to come in and stay in one place, but be used every day (furniture, appliances); some things will come in and just look lovely and that will be their entire job. But if it’s going to be here, I want it to either be something I believe is beautiful or something I know to be useful. (said by one William Morris waaaay back in the 1800’s).

Happy New Year! Let’s Get Moving!

Well, well, well. Siouxsie’s back.

SOMEthing got me to thinking this morning about reflecting on the past year.

I remember mentioning awhile back that I’d be happy to see the end of 2011, and that I was looking forward to 2012.

In 2011, I learned a lot about teenagers and all their messiness. At first, I resisted the lesson.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this, filled with jagged edges and rock faces to scale.. Looking back at my own teen years, I saw about 3 teaspoons of rebellious behavior in myself. (I actually think my parents would agree with this assessment, and the fact that I include that should prove my point.) So, having bypassed things like going to parties parents didn’t know about, underaged drinking, and the sordid like, I was unprepared for some of the things teenagers do.

Took it all personally at first. “Where did we go wrong?” those sorts of questions. Angry I had spent YEARS homeschooling youngsters who still made decisions I disagreed with. Bewildered that we, as loving parents, as committed and happily married parents, as parents who listened and loved and taught and read out loud and drove kids places, and did all manner of Outstanding Parenting could have kids who wondered if they were really loved. Depressed that I had planned for smooth sailing in the teen years only to discover my three teenagers standing up in the boat, completely disregarding the life jackets I held out to them, perched on the gunwales rocking for all they were worth.

After Taking It Personally came the I AM WOMAN I CAN FIX IT stage. Hunker down, try harder, speak more persuasively, listen mo’ better, give more, ask for less, hold their hearts and hands in mine, find outside help, grit my teeth REAL hard, click my heels, and BELIEVE. Short paragraph, but it seemed like that phase lasted forever.

There may have been other, just as effective, stages, but learning about the creature called “the teenager” and letting go of EITHER/OR thinking were the two experiences that transformed my reality.

Keep in mind I think my teens are wonderful, intelligent, thinking, caring, humorous, growing people. I love them forever, and I like them a lot (well, except for a few days back in February. And a few in March. And April. Maybe a couple in June). But before the big transformation in my understanding, I thought they were doing “it” wrong.

Since I didn’t get the Teenagers Are Inexplicably Incomprehensible memo as a teen or as a parent of babies, toddlers, pre-teens and teenagers in the early honeymoon phase, I was continually taken by surprise, especially this year. It helped to read Bob Meehan’s “Beyond the Yellow Brick Road,” although I’m not sure what I think of him or his methods. I did think his book was helpful. Really helpful. It was the Teenagers Are Inexplicably Incomprehensible (AND THAT IS JUST FINE) memo I had missed. So I started embracing the ride, accepting it for what it was.

And it’s been good. And it’s been hard. And it’s been fun. And I am so grateful for the teens who are in my home. They teach me things. Presumably I teach them things now and again. We laugh a lot and we have some pretty great talks. And I trust the process.

I am thankful for all of it. Now. It took awhile. Here’s to you — Valerie, Joel, Eli, and Anna-Jessie.

And even though this post is centered on the teenage portion of our show, I want to also thank Greg and Kepler for all the great things they bring to our family.

Happy New Year.