Friday, April 30, 2010

Should My Daily Routine Be Part of My Emergency Plan?

There is a lot that can be said about routines.  We all have them.  The way we get ready in the morning, the chair we sit in when we eat breakfast, the side of the sink we stack our dirty dishes, all of these things amount to routines.

When routines are disrupted we find ourselves with a sense of loss.  It may not be tangible, but there is the strange sensation that something is "off."

When looking at emergency preparation it is important to look at our routines.  When we are unable to do things as we normally do them, be it because of medical emergency, evacuation or loss of power/water, we feel a sense of discombobulation (in case you wondered, that is the technical term).

Having a plan to deal with a change in routine is an essential part of preparation for an emergency.  Activities to keep kids busy, information gathered to take the place of household resources and items such as cash to maintain services and supplies are all important parts of the plan.

As odd as it may feel, challenge yourself to be more aware of your daily routine.  You can start by figuring out how much gas you use in a week.  Figure out how often you go to the store.  Look at the services you use.  Determine how you can substitute for these things in an emergency.

Having that plan is place will help you feel more comfortable when your routine is disrupted.  As a person who has been without my normal routine for over a month, I promise it will help.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Cookie for Breakfast

Every so often it is important to slow down and see life in the simple ways our children do.

We have had a stressful week.  The morning after one particularly hard day I decided to stay in bed and just relax while my daughter entertained herself in her room.

I noticed a sound coming from the kitchen, but as there was no screaming or crashing I didn't think much about it.  A few minutes later a smiling face appeared in my doorway.  In her hands was a pink plastic plate.  She proudly announced, "Mom, I brought you breakfast in bed!"  I looked at the plate and there sat a single chocolate chip cookie.  She disappeared and reappeared with a glass of water.

I almost cried.  Baring having a nasty illness I don't think anyone has every brought me breakfast in bed before, especially for no particular reason.  It was sweet, it was simple, and it was her showing me how much she cares.

Did I mention I almost cried?

Anyway, our week is still stressful, but for one moment I was blissfully happy and my daughter was utterly delighted I loved her offering.  I can't say the crumbs in bed have been comfy...but I wouldn't have it any other way.  That was the best cookie I have ever eaten.

Friday, April 23, 2010

My Money Sucking House

I blogged a few weeks ago about new roofs Well we have one now.  It was an exciting and thrill chilling experience.  The chill came when I had to pay them.  Ouch!  The pain!

To add to the excitement the plumber came and fixed the water leak in the main line that same week.  You guessed it, another thrilling experience.  Then I ran into the kitchen counter and broke off the corner.  No really, you read that right.

So now my house needs the drywall repaired (water damage, thus new roof), new counters, a repaired irrigation system, new carpet, interior paint, new light fixtures and a detective to figure out why I have a sporadic beep coming from the kid's room.

We are hemorrhaging money.  It is falling out of our pockets and puddling on the floor.  It is making a mad dash out of our bank account and into the hands of every casual passerby.  It must stop.

So here is my plan.  I am going to saran wrap my house and keep it in a bubble until future notice.  We will not use any moving parts, such as doors, to keep them from wearing out.  I will not walk on the floors to save the carpet.  I will not allow any eating to preserve the remaining counter top. I will not turn on the lights so I don't notice the ugly brass fixtures on the walls.  I will let my plants die so I don't notice the leak in the irrigation.  (Who am I kidding, I will let the yard die so I can get polite letters from my association.) And lastly, I will turn on death metal so I don't hear the annoying beep coming from the kid's room.

That should fix the problems...don't you think?  Viola! Money is still in my pocket and I am left to enjoy my house, as long as I don't want to live in it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Red Couch Fashion Nightmare

I have a red couch.  Actually I have 3 of them.  Two match and are a little pretentious and the other is comfy and well loved.

I like each of these couches for different reasons.  They are nice to sit on, but they each have a story and a part of my life attached to them.  They are part of me.

I will spare you the gory details about how we found these couches, but rest assured there was a lot of thought involved with each purchase.  (Ahhh, the days pre-kids where there was disposable income.)

Today I realized why our grandmothers each have a couch that looks like a bad horror flick from the 1960's.  You have seen this has gold velor, avocado green piping and braided fringe.  You wonder what possessed her to own such a monstrosity, yet it seems so right in her living room next to her shag carpet (not the chic kind) and her lava lamp.

I realized today that I am on my way to becoming that style challenged grandma.  I may have over 20 years before it happens, but I am on the way.

Grandmas don't have ugly furniture because they hate pretty things, they have ugly furniture because it was stylish when they bought it and now it has memories attached to it.  (That and it was expensive, and really, who throws out a good couch anyway??)

I started thinking about all the family memories I have on my couches.  There are movie nights, good books, fancy company, parties, snuggles with the kids, family pictures...well you get the idea.  My couches represent who we are as a family.  They are where we relax, where we vent, where we spend time together and where we cuddle up to cry. They are part of us.

Now do you see why I am ramping up to be a scary grandma with frightening couches?  They may not be velor, but they will horrify my grand-kids...and I will love every minute of it.  Adding new memories to old couches will make them even more comfortable.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Accepting Service

As the saying goes...It is better to give than receive.  When it comes to service, I would have to agree.  Accepting service can be hard...very hard.

As I have been slightly out of commission for the last few weeks I have been the recipient of lots of service.  I have had meals brought in, kids picked up and delivered, goodies baked and my kitchen cleaned...twice.   If I had pride before this started I wouldn't after having someone else clean my nasty kitchen.  (Good thing I don't have any pride.)

I will be forever grateful for the help I have received.  The meals have been wonderful and the help with the kids has been invaluable.  Having my kitchen cleaned was the moment I realized I really can't do everything myself. (You would of thought I would have figured that out when I knew I couldn't walk...)

Over the course of two weeks I had two different ladies clean up my kitchen.  As I watched them do it, knowing I really wasn't in any shape to be doing it myself, I realized how hard it is to let people do things for you when you feel like you "should" be able to do it yourself.  Giving up the control and pride is hard.  I am grateful they know me well enough to know I need the help.  I am also grateful they know me well enough to help even over the protests.

Accepting service graciously can be tough.  No one likes to help someone who feels entitled to the help.  I have found the people who have the hardest time accepting help are usually the ones who need it the most.  We probably all know someone who can "do it all."  Amazingly enough those people need help too.

Service is an amazing thing.  Giving service provides perspective to our own problems.  Accepting service reminds us to be humble.  I remember someone telling me years ago accepting service is not just about your own pride.  Allowing someone else to serve you is a way to help that person as well.  (At least that is what I was telling myself as I watched these two kind and wonderful ladies scrape old food off my bowls and plates.)

So give service and allow yourself to receive service on a regular basis.  Enjoy the perspective you get and be satisfied with the humility you develop.  While I hope you don't have to stay off your feet for a month to take this advice, I do know it is worth it.

P.S. To all the wonderful women who have helped me this last few weeks I want you to know how much I appreciate your service for me and my family.  I have loved the meals, I have appreciated the help with the kids and have cherished the moral support.  Thanks so much.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I am not a fan of limitations.  Growing up I was told things like, "The sky is the limit..." and "You can do anything you set your mind to..." and other such gems.  As I have become an adult and parent I realize it just isn't true.  There really are limits to what you can do.

Don't get me wrong, I love to aim high, but the laws of physics must still apply.  I know it is a bummer, but there really are things that just can not happen.

As you know I recently had surgery on my foot.  The unfortunate reality of this surgery is that I can't put any weight on it.  If you have ever been without the use of your foot you will know you are limited in what you can do, where you can go and how long your energy will last.  Things that were easy before require work and advanced planning.  You are truly limited.

There are other kinds of limitations.  You only have 24 hours in a day, so time is a limitation.  Everyone needs sleep, once again, a limitation.  You must eat...a limitation, and most of us need to go to work (be it in the home or outside), so that limits your ability to do what you want.

Life is really a set of trade offs.  You have unlimited choices, but limited time, energy and resources. (Did you notice the word limits again?) You have to decide what is worth the expenditure.  The process of making those decisions tells us a lot about ourselves.

When we were kids it was all about immediate gratification.  Depending on who you are, it may still be. As we age, things change. This foot surgery was not about immediate gratification but future comfort.  I expended time, financial resources and lack of comfort to get a desired result.  I made a choice to limit my ability to walk now for the opprotunity to walk easier later.

In life we face a lot of choices, we battle limitations and we become a person defined by how we make those choices.

Ironically the word "limitations" is not the nasty word I have made it out to be thus far.  Limits work both ways.  Limits can be good.  Limits keep us safe, limits keep us secure.  We would not appreciate if the interest rates on our credit card had no limits, or if the price on gas had no limits.  Limits help us grasp the details of our lives.

So it appears the thing to do is see how you feel about the limits in your life.  Look at what resources you have, what choices you need to make and where you want to end up on the other side.

As I said, I don't like limitations...or maybe I do. I haven't decided yet.  When I know, I'll let you know.  Until then, may you limit yourself wisely.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Genealogy...I am Doing It

I love genealogy.  I enjoy the hunt and I enjoy the mystery.

To be a good genealogist you must have a lot of patience and be able to read old handwriting.  You must also have a good grasp of general world history, and all history specifically revolving around your family lineage.

When I can't get anywhere with my own family history I enjoy helping others attack theirs.  Right now I am looking at a pretty cool family.  They have such a rich and deep American history that it takes my breath away.  They mostly came from Ireland over the course of about 50 years.  They made their mark on the United States and even the world.  They went from poor immigrant to ambassadors in only a few generations.  They truly found the American Dream.

That being said, they were human.  They were grumpy and even a little mean.  They had lots of kids, they died in childbirth and they ran away from home. They had step parents and they lived on farms.  They were poor, and a few were wealthy.  They lived, they laughed, they loved, and they died...just like all of us and all of our families.

So what will generations from now know about you?  Will they read your journals, or just look over your Wikipedia entry?  Will you leave personal information, or just vital statistics?  What are you planning to leave for generations yet unborn?

I ask these questions because I am not sure myself.  My grandfather has a box of records dating back to 1945.  He has every purchase made and the price for over 20 years.  He wonders if anyone will care to see it, I realize it is a trove of information.

So I will put some thought into it.  I want to leave a exciting one.  What will you leave?

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Last Two Weeks - A Tale of Surgery, of Sick Kids, and Bronchitis

I am sure you are wondering if I got hit by a truck or if I escaped to a deserted island for a little relaxation.  The answer on both counts is no, however the second idea has merit.

I spent the last two weeks in a hectic fury.  My kids were sick, my husband was sick, I had surgery and then everyone got sicker.  So here we are, mom only slightly mobile, the kids coughing and the spouse recovering from bronchitis.  It would make an excellent sitcom...I promise.

So what did I learn from this crazy experience?  Well, the number one thing is to look into your magic ball before scheduling surgery.  If I had any idea everyone would be sick at the same time, I would have booked a flight to another country instead of having surgery. If I could see into the future I would have put everyone in a bubble to keep the germs contained. As it turned out, my family likes to share...a lot.

The other things I learned are a little more practical.

First, have a plan you have thought through. Having everyone sick means someone who feels horrible has to be in charge.  I don't know about you, but my brightest ideas do not tend to happen when I am feeling icky.  Knowing what was going to happen and on what day has taken a lot of the stress out of the last two weeks.

Second, have a backup plan for when the first plan falls apart.  The original surgery plan was that my husband was going to wait on me hand and foot while I slept off the effects of surgical medicines and then pain killers.  He was going to keep our well behaved children occupied with lovely activities and the whole family was going to get together to sing Kumbayah when I felt better.  (Okay, not really, but the plan was expected to be fairly smooth.)

In the end we had whoever was least dead at the moment helping whoever was most dead.  The kids watched a million hours of prerecorded cartoons and everyone coughed all over everyone else.  Lovely.

The third thing I learned is that your support network is key.  The bright spot in all of this is I have been reminded how many friends I have and how many people care about my family. Food started arriving, people transported my kids to school and activities and my life was carried on for me, all with minimal effort on my part.  I will have a mountain of thank you notes to write, but the problem will really be remembering to thank everyone who pitched in, and will still pitch in as I finish recovering.

So how does this relate to my overall topic of preparedness?  Well, there are many ways, and here are just a few.  I ended up needing medical records 3 times in the last week.  Good thing I knew where they were because I have been in no shape to hunt for them. I also needed to contact a large amount of people to make things happen.  Having numbers and relationships documented made that process easier. And lastly, knowing I had my financials organized meant I wasn't worried about unpaid bills or other undone activities. I promise I didn't have any brain cells left for even thinking about it.

So to wrap this up, I hope you never have a week like mine.  Not Fun.  If you do have a week like mine I hope you are able to circle your wagons, call on your support network and get through to the other side. Hopefully the other side includes a nice deserted beach and a cool drink...well, here's hoping anyway.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Reruns - A Wonderful Way to Remember the Past

This has been a sad week for us.  Not only did we kick it off with coughs, sniffles and miserable bodies, we are finishing it with surgery, more coughs, sniffles and miserable bodies.  I don't want you to feel unloved or undervalued, so I have included links to a few of my favorite past blogs to keep you entertained.

In no particular order...