Saturday, October 25, 2008

Compact Challenge: Halloween

You all may recall that Kid's birthday is on Halloween. This can make all things Halloween a bit more pressure filled around here. I really feel pressure to live up to both special days in a way that is fun for Kid. Her costumes have, up until this point, been a big deal. The first couple of years I bought nice, and fairly pricey, store bought costumes. Then I went on a spree of making some pretty freaking fantastic costumes. Well making costumes can be pricey too... and time consuming. And since I'm running out of time I've been thinking a lot about Kid's "dressing room" full of costumes. Who says that we have to have an all new costume every year? It's not too late to change her ideas about that... or is it?

Like many kids out there Kid has a tendency to change her mind about what she wants to be for Halloween every time you ask her. Almost every year I have to just make a decision and convince her to wear it on the day of anyway. So I've been thinking about that and about how at the end of it I'm not sure she really cares what she is. The fun is in the production of the day and that all her friends are dressed up too. The thought occurred to me that having a new Halloween rule that we "make" our costumes out of things we have around the house would be just as fun and creative (if not more so) than setting out to come up with a costume a month in advance. So when Kid came back from birthday party #2 I pitched the idea.

I wasn't sure how she'd take it. And honestly I was prepared for a big fat NO.... but she took it hook, line, and sinker. She is not one little bit disappointed. I gave her the options of my making her a sunflower costume (which we had quasi settled on last week) or her making a costume out of her dress up clothes. She was thrilled. In fact she said "That way I can decide what I want to be and just put it on." Exactly.

That's money that stays in our pockets... and... a new tradition is born. Halloween shall now be known as a day we dress up and not a day when we get a new costume. From this year forward we will make "costumes" from what we have. Now considering that we have quite a large cache of costumes, face make up, and fabric... making a costume shouldn't really be that hard. And I should say that I am not opposed to buying a specific accessory needed to change those Medusa wings into angel wings if necessary. That seems reasonable enough.

Birthday party/gifting update:

Kid attended her 2nd party this morning. She gave our 7 year old neighbor a craft kit ($5) and a book ($3). She came home thrilled to report that her friend opened her gift first. So clearly Kid was happy with what she gave and that is all that matters.

Also instead of a gift bag Kid brought home a single solitary plastic bracelet. And was THRILLED. Just goes to show you that less really is more. Thanks to that mom for leading the way in the very minimal party favor category!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Things I've Learned

There are some big things I've learned about myself in the last couple of years. Most of it brought to light through my postpartum inspired weight loss. The biggest of which is that when I'm ready to change... I change. I don't say I'm going to change tomorrow, or Monday, or next week. There is no pre-diet binge justified by all sorts of ridiculous excuses that range from "I've already bought it so I have to finish it up" to "I just need to hit rock bottom".

The thing I've found about myself (and I think it may be universal) is that when I'm pulling that shit I'm not ready. I might (might) pull it together and start some half-assed attempt on that mythical Monday but I won't be able to stick to it. When I'm ready I don't need a "Monday". I don't even need a "tomorrow". It's actually possible to change RIGHT NOW. It's possible to change without really knowing exactly how... without a full plan... without promises. It's possible to change in the middle of the day (believe it). All you have to do is stop doing what's making you crazy.

We all know finishing that box of cookies, or making an exception because "it's on sale", is a lie we're telling ourselves. There is no value in eating up stuff with the sole purpose of postponing eating less and there is no value in saving money on something you wouldn't have bought otherwise.

It isn't starting that is hard... it's stopping.

I've Been Known To Get A Little Tangental At Times...

sorry folks I had a weird upload experience at YouTube... this took forever

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Things I've Been Thinking About

I've been reaching a tipping point lately. Maybe due to the sudden recognition of financial crisis. Maybe due to a slow and steady realization that our household chaos and clutter is due to, quite simply... and quite disgustingly obviously so, an overwhelming amount of stuff. Most likely both.

Things have been coming to a head on this front for a while. We have filled dumpsters (literally people) with junk, and donated van loads (many, many, times over) with donations. We have given away all our baby things, furniture, old computers.... and STILL we have more than we need. More, in fact, than we want. We have 3 bed frames alone, sitting unused, leaning against the wall of the basement, bins and bins and bins of things (who knows what), boxes of china and crystal (hardly ever used), furniture enough to literally furnish a second home. Literally. Things that all seem too *important* (due to value of one sort or another) to part with and yet QUITE clearly they are of no real value at all. If the house burned down would we even be able to account for a third (a sixth even) of the stuff we feel compelled to store in the basement? Unlikely.

I workout in the basement surrounded by all of our cast offs and off season clothes, christmas ornaments, excess furniture (much of it quite valuable... and for what?), misc odds and ends accumulated over our lifetimes. I've been known to actually have to step off the treadmill and weep (I'm serious) at the disgusting excess of our lives (most often prompted by a Tivo'd Extreme Home Makeover).

Mr F asked me the other day if I could really do what the RV family did. Could I really sell or donate ALL of our stuff? I told him that I could walk away from everything. And really I could. I have a very different feeling about our things since moving them. Having to pick and choose what to bring, and sweat and agonize over each and every decision... only to have it's *uselessness* made blatantly obvious by moving it has completely changed my point of view. I had for quite some time blamed our circumstance for our hoarding (which is truthfully our problem more than clutter is). We had moved multiple times before moving to our first house and moving boxes that had not been unpacked as they had been moved from apartment to storage to house was an unfortunate necessity. Then there were the family "donations" of cast off furniture, heirlooms (of varying quality), and ever growing (and multiplying) stores of baby clothes and toys, and a multitude of home wares and odds and ends.

Now a few disciplined people out there may have filtered through their belongings getting rid of one thing for every thing they took in... but I suspect the rest of you would have just crammed them into your basement storage rooms until they were so full you no longer knew exactly what all you had in there. I no longer feel bad about this. I don't think Mr F and I are lacking in judgment or discipline. I think we are busy and overwhelmed by life itself and that setting aside time to maintain our caches is about as likely as our setting time aside to go on a date. Which is... ahem... un fucking likely. I have no current intention of culling our stores... for one thing... some of it may be useful... for another thing I don't plan to stay here forever (remember?!!) and there are plenty of high quality things that could be put to use in another house. Our new basement is not a storage/living area so there is no spill over as had been the case in our old house. What is down there is down there.

At this moment we have, quite successfully, set up our upstairs in a way that is functional and accounts for what we need to have/want to have on hand. There are not over crowded cupboards and closets. Our things (even our toys) all have a well defined home. And that makes me happy. And I want to keep it that way. And that brings me to THE COMPACT.
The fact of the matter is that there is only one way to keep up with our stuff and that is to stop bringing any more of it in. I don't want or need to go all hardcore on our asses. We're not destitute (but with Kid's tuition we are getting pretty close... seriously), we don't need to start buying all our clothes and gifts at the Goodwill (just yet)... but we do need to be very careful with our spending. And the TRUTH is that we don't need ANYTHING. We are incredibly fortunate people. We want for nothing... and I'm not sure that is a good thing... in fact I'm pretty sure it's not.

Owning things and buying things makes me feel good... makes me feel better... for the moment anyway. But more often than not my impulse buys weigh on me. I've decided it may be possible that not buying things will leave me feeling happier longer.

You can read more about it HERE.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

This Week The Plan

Well folks today is the day. I put on my jeans and they were.. um... a bit tight. Maybe indecently so. It turns out being depressed and sticking to an exercise and diet regime don't necessarily go hand in hand. And yet I know that if I can pull it together and take control of this area it will spill over into the rest of my life. So I'm doing it. No more half assed attempts. I'm going back to my original plan.
So get ready for the return of cookie dough, maple fusion waffles (even though they've changed them and they suck now), 200 & 300 calorie mini meals, and NO freaking soda. Oh yeah and 6 hours of cardio a week.

Okay these are the things I know I need to do in order to be successful:
I need to make a meal plan at the start of the week. I need to limit take out to restaurants where I can predetermine the calorie counts. I need to have my magical treats (frozen cookie dough & dark choc caramels & Kashi Go Lean Roll bars) on hand. I need to weigh my food... boring but necessary. I need to track my food... starting in the morning... and not try and figure it out at the end of the day. I need to have sparkling water on hand ALL the time so that I can resist my soda urges... because... I must not drink soda. I need to get in 5 days of cardio and I need to start my week on Sunday... don't ask me why it's just true. I need to load my Tivo up with plenty of shows to workout to. I need to STOP Tivo'ing my shows on the living room TV so that I have to workout to watch them. I need to get enough sleep... so I'm back on the Unisom!


Now you might be thinking "Mrs F you don't look that bad"... well enlarge the pictures... notice how my stomach is factually hanging over my belt?... how about how I can't tuck my pockets all the way in?... or the tight rippling at the back of the thighs? And PS this is after I'd been wearing them (aka stretching them out) for an hour.

OKAY the plans...

Until Kid's darn tooth falls out we'll be focusing on soft foods... oy... this one has been an ordeal!!

Monday - we went out to crazy country restaurant... but I didn't have soda

Tuesday - Steak w/ sauteed peppers, onions & mushrooms, pan seared potatoes

Wednesday - Tomato soup, crescent rolls, salad

Thursday - Brown Sugar & Ginger Salmon, rice, asian stir fry

Friday - Pork Tenderloin, sauteed apples, smashed potatoes

Saturday - Frozen pizza, salad

Sunday - Turkey Noodle Casserole

Monday, October 20, 2008

Bad Things Happen To Good People... and Other Things The Parenting Books Don't Tell You

Every time I head into the hospital with her, no matter how minor the test or procedure, it is very difficult. Everything comes flooding back and the very *realness* of her condition is front and center. It is so hard to sit there and not just put on a brave face for her... but pretend that it is all fun and exciting... while I am literally pushing back tears. I know that our situation is not the worst case scenario. Hell, most of the time we don't have the sickest, most disabled, kid in the waiting room. I understand that in many, many, ways we are extremely lucky. Kid is alive and well. She is developmentally fine, and growing and learning as she should. She didn't suffer any damage from her seizures and seems to have no side effects from her medication. We are very blessed. And yet we have a sick kid (for lack of a better term). Something is wrong with her and we don't know why, or what really, or how to fix it. No one does. We just wait and hope, and wait and hope, and educate ourselves the best we can.

While her condition is (hopefully) being managed with her medication... the very medication itself is a twice daily reminder that something could go wrong. When you come home with your perfect little baby you cannot be prepared for a day when everything changes. It's outside of your comprehension. Until it does your child's health and progress can be quite greedily seen as your right, a result of your efforts. Then one day all of your assumptions vanish. The very ground you stand on falls away and you are left in someone else's spot trying to make sense of how you could have flip flopped so quickly from one side to the other. From the happy, proud, mother of an *advanced* child to that of a disabled one. To be transported, literally overnight, from someone who would have pitied (in the kindest way possible... of course) a mother in my circumstance, to one who is pitied.


Kid's heading into the hospital for her 2 year followup EEG this morning. If all goes well and her results are "normal" than we will begin weaning her from her anti-seizure medication. That will take about 6 weeks. During that time and the following 6 months she will be most likely to have a seizure if she is still epileptic... since the weaning process itself actually makes the brain more susceptible to seizure activity. If she does have another seizure she will return to her medication, and we will at least know that her medication had, in fact, been working all these years. If she remains seizure free we will still have her emergency medication on hand because, unfortunately, no news is just no news... it isn't a definitive answer. She may never have another seizure (as is the case 70% of the time) or she may have one tomorrow, or next month, or 15 years down the road (as is the case 30% of the time). The brain is a tricky tricky beast. And as anyone out there who has something that is already rare and unlikely (2-3%), and then has the rarest form within that bunch, knows, numbers bring you very little comfort.


Thank you for all your well wishes and prayers. We really appreciate them!!!

Well we're back. We had one of those *nice* techs who actually confirmed that the test was normal. Kid was in no mood for this test since we had to follow sleep deprivation protocol... which also meant I was sleep deprived (beyond the normal day to day level) and was having a hard time holding Kid together. Thank God I had some of her birthday gifts stashed in the trunk to bust out as bribes!

We are mighty,mighty, tired ... maybe I'll get them to nap?!
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