The Unicorn That Saved The Dog

20 Oct img_9059-1

Five people and three pets means laundry.  Lots of laundry.  Moving into a two story (three if you count the partially finished basement where the washer and dryer are) house had me questioning how I was going to carry all those baskets up and down those flights of stairs.  After all, not too long ago I couldn’t hobble down in the boot.

So I am incredibly grateful for the built in laundry chute.  One door is on the main floor (not used as much) and one door is next to the girls’ bedrooms (used a lot!).  The chute empties into the basement bathroom (the guest/my son’s bathroom).  During the first few days of unpacking I would send my son’s things down the chute.  I’d text him to let him know it was on its way and giggle as I heard the satisfying plop that meant I saved walking down two flights of stairs just to bring him a few spare insulin pump infusion sets.

But again, with five of us in the house I have laundry.  I tried to avoid sending things down the laundry chute in front of my older daughter.  My peanut is a curious girl and a fan of physical comedy.  Watching things move or fall is one of her favorite things.  She used to put toys in the heat registers.  Before we moved I pulled a piece of hanger, a plastic cucumber, two Candyland game pieces, Barbie’s sunglasses and a dime from her bedroom register.  Her discovering the chute is inevitable.  I wanted to wait.

A few days ago I threw in some towels.  And they didn’t plop down on the basement level like usual.  I went to the main floor and couldn’t see laundry piled past the door, only an empty metal duct.  

So back to the top floor.  The chute wasn’t large enough to see in.  And when I stuck my arm in as far as my armpit I felt the last towel I put in.  But couldn’t reach it. 

I don’t have my husband’s problem solving brain.  He’s probably have some amazing way to take it apart or his suggestion was to find the blue bear claw his father had given us as a gift.  My resources were different.  I grabbed my daughter’s hot pink and purple unicorn toy.  It’s the unicorn version of a horse-head on a broom stick.  Instead of being a cowgirl and racing around in her cowgirl boots yelling “hee-haw” she parades in princess slippers and feather boas riding a unicorn. 

The unicorn head stared at me with its plastic eyes as I jammed the stick down the chute trying to push the clothing clog down the chute.  It budged!  So I continued to use the poor unicorn to shift the clothes around until I could no longer reach the pile.  Down to the main level!  Jab, jab, pull clothes, back up to the top level!  Add clothes, repeat.

By now my dog was warily following me back up the stairs probably wondering why I was  making him follow me up and down so many stairs with the unicorn head stabbing routine.  

And then-I found it.   I reached the clog: a big toy puppy dog that had last been seen in my elder daughter’s room… The dog who made my husband and I laugh.  Because it is the beginning.  Soon we will be seeing plastic fruit, Barbie dolls, and many more stuffed animals at the bottom of that chute.  

But next time we might hear the maniacal laugh that means she’s discovered something new.  After all, when I returned the stuffed dog it was instantly discarded along with the request to shut her door.

And me?  I keep the unicorn at bay while I do this.

I Will

10 Oct

One of the gifts that my husband’s new job gave us was the ability for me to be home for a bit.  We don’t know how long  yet.  But it gave me the gift of time.  Being a special needs parent, even just a mother to three means I rarely had me time.  Even reading was usually done with a kid on my lap watching Netflix, I would zone out within my game apps just to focus inward and try to steal moments of inner reflection and quiet.  I was exhausted.  I adore my family, but as a strong introvert I craved quiet.

But now I have three hours a day when my kids are at school.  Last week being the first week in our new house I used those hours to unpack or do laundry and try to get as much accomplished as I could.  But by Friday I realized how counterproductive that was.  The main goal of my “me time” was for me to relax.  To do something I wanted to do and for so long that one things has been writing.  That day I had a lunch date with my husband and then I tackled it.

I enrolled myself in an online course on writing a novel.  I’ve never written one.  I’ve drafted a few starts, I have many plots fighting in my brain, but I’ve never had the uninterrupted time to actually draft them.  But…I do now.  That’s my “it.”  The novel inside that I want to write.  Always have.

I’ve psyched myself out many times writing, thinking “sure I can blog, but how hard is that?”  It’s me drafting my thoughts.  It’s what I say in my brain or sometimes don’t say out loud.  I am hard on myself, so I’ll read what I wrote and hit “delete” not even giving that chapter or start a fair shot.  I compare my writing to some of the incredibly talented friends I have and think no one would read it, why bother until I can write something better?

But that’s not what it needs to be.  That’s not what I need to do.  I just need to write.  All weekend long I was able to enjoy my time with my family.  And this morning I was able to do the mundane housework (and unpack a few more boxes) knowing that after 11:15 I would have my time.  It’s my “me time” and all I wanted to do was write.  That’s saying something there.

Passion.  While I wanted to write, I was stuck and unable to find the time.  I gave myself bits of time here and there, but not enough.  Not nearly enough.  So I am holding myself accountable for writing.  And that blank screen isn’t going to stay blank.  I bought this silly little laptop to fulfill my dream of writing.  I can and I will do it.  I will draft a novel.  Whether it stays in my laptop or is added to the boxes of my old work from my college years, that’s okay.  I’m doing it.  I’m writing.  And I’m loving it.

What I Learned Moving 

8 Oct

1.  Somehow we can actually function even though we are too tired and sore to move.  But it’s still easy enough to fall asleep.  Even after you’ve walked down the stairs and got changed for school.

2. What you spent months packing is suddenly strewn in your garage and you are expected to know where the necessities are.  You won’t.

3. You’ll have to go to the store for said necessities and even with a list you’ll forget something.  And make yet another $450 Costco run buying necessities.  Sad, but true.  At least we only needed one grocery store run after that.

4. After many of those trips you’ll decide it’s easier to use Amazon.  On the plus side you get to meet the very nice mail person.  On the negative you end up with a storage unit that holds DVDs instead of a bookshelf.  After wallowing in sadness you can deliver said “media storage unit that showed CDs and paperbacks dang it” to the teenager in his room for the video game collection.  

5.  The kids will do an amazing job settling in to their new schools.  You’ll realize this from the 4 trips a day to drop said kids off and pick up even though you signed up for bussing. That gives you the chance to talk to their teachers daily and they at least pretend the kids are great.

6. Boxes.  You thought you hated packing?  Unpacking the 10th box of Barbie dolls makes you wonder why you have so much stuff and where is the box of tshirts and your knee high boots?  It’s fall.  We need boots.

7.  The first few days you might accidentally miss the turn to your road and drive down the next looking like a creepy stalker peering at the road signs.  But by the end of the week you find new routes to home.  And the shortcuts Google Maps avoids. 

8.  Your pets either move gracefully or not.  You prepare the resolve and carpet cleaner just in case, but thankfully they move gracefully.  In fact when one of the cats realizes their food, water and litter box are in the basement along with their human’s room-she finds no reason to leave that floor.

9. If you can keep one room free of kid clutter and boxes do it.  Because it helps you regain your sanity.  I’m lucky as we chose the living room for that room.  And the fireplace helps soothe the soul too.  Clutter distracts me and I can’t concentrate so that room is where I go to work.

10.  Enjoy.  Find the little quirks of your new house.  Hear the creaking in the floorboards, see how mini rainbows form on your walls when the afternoon sun filters through your window, watch your kid swinging safety in a fenced in back yard (and the dog who stands and waits at the door instead of exploring the yard).  Just enjoy making your new place home.  And relish the feeling when it feels that way from day one.

Adulting is Hard

27 Sep

This morning it was raining.  And cold.  And our jackets are in a box somewhere amongst our packed things.  Our umbrella broke last spring and I refused to let my little one spend $30.00 on a Princess Sofia one.  

And my van is in the shop with a broken transmission right before our moving day.

I could let my middle daughter skip school to avoid a damp walk.  But I’m letting her miss two days while we transition to our new home.

So we walked.  My still-healing foot bone ached in the damp air, and my brain just didn’t have the patience for the slow stroll to school.  My daughter with Down Syndrome doesn’t move fast.  Unless she is sneaking something she didn’t ask for (tablet, food, or Mom’s jewelry).  My brain didn’t want to go slow.  It was busy adulting and annoyed at the saunter.

I still need to pack the medicine cabinet.  What can we live without for day?  Do I have enough boxes to finish packing?  I think I have enough cleaning supplies.  Did I wipe down my closet?  Or just Dad’s?  I hope my oldest doesn’t get sick today.  Who would I call to pick him up?  I could call a cab, but I don’t think I have cash left.  I hope he remembers to bring home his diabetic supplies.  He grabbed extra bags today.  I wish I didn’t have to cancel my appointment today.  But maybe it’s better this way.  Most of my prescriptions are refilled, when do I pick them up?  How long do I have before I need to refill the others?  Can I make it with what I have for a few weeks?

My brain flutters with my adult thoughts and I try to just get to school so I can get home and pack and clean some more.  Then my youngest stops.  “Mom! Look! Purple flowers!” as she stops to view purple somethings along the sidewalk (I do not have anything close to a green thumb.  My plants are fake in my house so my cat doesn’t dig them up or eat them.)  My other girl stops to touch them as well too and signs flower.  

And I turn off my adulting.  And stop to admire the spots of purple along our walk.  Giggle as my girls race each other down the path.  Feel the cool fall air and admire the changing colors of the trees.

I just stop.  To be.  I need to do that more.  It makes the adulting a bit easier.

Sunshine and flowers

20 Sep

I’m not an optimist.  I’m not always a pessimist either (even with the things that make me worry).  I like to see myself as a realist.

But sometimes I need a pick me up.  Some days feel endless, some days I’m caught in the trap of my mind where I test my youngest for diabetes at the slightest symptom because I missed her brother’s early symptoms, cry because I ask my middle daughter how was her day for the millionth time in her school career.  Even knowing that she will only say hi.  And unless I get a note or a project in her backpack I have no clue how her day was.  

Some days are hard.  And I know there are others handling worse things. There are others also handling easier things.  Truth? 

That doesn’t matter.  This is me and I need to acknowledge and take care of me. I am important too.

So in this moment I pause and look at my shrubs to see if they need weeding.  And instead of weeds are flowers.  I didn’t plant them.  I don’t know how they grew there, but I welcome the beauty.  These sunny yellow flowers are my gift to pause and reflect.  And see the endless beauty of life.  And love.  To enjoy the moment.  And sunshine. 

And know that I have a purpose here.  And I am not alone in my journey.  And life really, really is good.

It Will Be Okay

17 Sep

Throughout my life I’ve picked up and relocated a few times.  Leaving high school to go to college.  The moment in college that my boyfriend graduated and took a job across state.  I transferred in my senior year of college and planned a wedding then.  When I became pregnant with our son and my husband had to choose between “possibly having a local job” or relocating and definitely having a job.  And then another two years down the road when said job hit a standstill and neither of us was happy where we were.  

We then moved here.  After a brief stink of living in my father-in-law’s place we found our house.  A fixer-upper we could afford in a very pretty location.  And that’s where we’ve been.

Through ups and downs.  The birth of two more children.  Heart surgery.  Diabetes.  An MBA.  Countless home improvements.  Adding two dogs to our family.  And another cat.  Twelve years of memories.  

Now we find ourselves less than two weeks from our new adventure in another city.  And I’m panicking wondering how to pack and clean everything.  If we have everything we need for school.  Adding any pending medical appointments (as I have to find new providers after all).  Saying goodbye to some really amazing people I have met throughout the years.

Truthfully.  I’m petrified, thrilled, and worried all at the same time.  When the anxiety hits I remind myself.

You have done this.  Look how awesome that turned out.

It will be an amazing adventure where you will find where you are meant to be next.

It will be ok.  Really it will.

So if you see me out and about buying more cleaning gloves or packing tape, you may see my permanent brow furrow.  I’m probably thinking of everything that needs to be done.  And I might be procrastinating as the same part of me that’s ready to move is also already missing my mountain, friends, and the serenity of my living room view.

If I’m muttering to myself I may just be repeating that it will be okay.  Sometimes I just need that reminder.  You’re welcome to tell me that too.

Paying It Forward

3 Sep

Today I brought my youngest to Walgreens to pick up some refills of medication.  We browsed the office supplies, and she stopped to pick out a treat for herself.  Walking to the pharmacy counter I passed a woman studying bandage tape and remembered being there a few weeks ago with my broken foot bone.

We paid for the medicine and got in the checkout line for the rest of our hodgepodge of school supplies and treats.  I saw the woman who had been looking at bandages placing piles of coins sorted on the counter where the cashier was patiently recounting.  The cashier smiled and said “your purse must feel so much lighter now!” and totaled the amount.

The woman was in tears as the cashier said she was still short.  She stared at her bag and asked if she could put something back.  Her eyes were heavy, I saw defeat in her body as she pondered what to put back.  The cashier asked the manager to do a void.

Here is where I asked how much she owed.  And dug in my purse without a second thought.  I thought of the sweet old man who had given my youngest the dollar bill for a treat the other day.  I thought how blessed I was to have a basket of miscellaneous unnecessary items.  And knew she had bandages in her bag.  I didn’t know what else she had.  Nor did I care.  The piles of coins, the look in her face as she tried to decide what she didn’t need.  That told me what she needed-all of it.

I had that exact amount of cash.  And handed it to the cashier whose eyes welled with tears. And the woman openly teared.  The cashier told me that she only had bandages in her bag. Again, I wouldn’t have judged or cared.  The woman then told me that they were for her granddaughter who broke her leg, but kept picking at her leg.  I asked how old she was (16 months) and said my girls would do that too as I hugged my youngest who was at my side.

She thanked me.  Her tired, watering blue eyes. Her voice and hands shaking.  Thanked me over and over.  I shook my head and said go take care of that baby:)  And she left.  We paid for our markers, pencil pouch, and HoHos.  Put my prescriptions in the bag and left ourselves.

She reminded me how grateful I am to be able to afford a treat now and then.  How healthy we all are right now (after all I have Das Booty!).  And it was the reminder that no matter what you are struggling with (juggling my time between work, packing, losing weight, and just getting everything we need to do done) there are others fighting their own battles.

So “have courage and be kind.”  Today was my turn.  I’d love to hear your stories too.  The world needs more kindness with all the hate.  Love is stronger than hate.