Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Organizing a boy's closet with felt baskets

For some parents, organizing their kids' rooms is a joy to match no other.  Or, at least, that's what their Pinterest profiles suggest.  Have you ever seen so many matchy-match rooms full of sweetness and whimsy?
I admit I'm a Pinterest fan and have a board or 20 devoted to home decor and organizing, but I do try to keep the boards realistic.  I am never going to build a castle in my daughter's room and put her bed and stuffed animals inside.  Not going to happen, so why bother pinning it?

I can buy matching baskets to make the clutter look less . . . cluttery, though.  And I did!

A few months ago a friend sacrificed her Sunday morning to help me declutter my son's room.  We were ruthless and threw out a ton of stuff, repurposed containers and shoved LEGOs and action figures into them, put them on his closet shelf and claimed victory.  I guess I have a weird touch of perfectionism mixed into my attention deficit personality because the mismatched containers nagged at me.
Target to the rescue.  As usual.  I may love Target as much as Pinterest.  I may also need an intervention for both of these attractions.

I had been eyeing these cute felted baskets for months.


Every time I wandered past them, I'd pick them up, look at the price, have a serious conversation with myself about them not being on the list and how I need to stick to the list, smile at passers-by when they stared at the crazy lady arguing with herself about baskets, then place them back on the display shelf and move on to the paper craft aisle where I would argue with myself about decorative craft scissors.

The last couple of visits to Target, I noticed that the felt baskets had that lovely red sale sticker on the tag.  I fondled them longer, but still decided to wait and see if they would be marked down any more.  I shopped the dollar aisles, but really didn't want to buy cheap plastic or cardboard baskets.  Besides, none of them looked right for a boy's room.

My last visit to Target I picked up the felted baskets and they had been marked down to less than $2 each.  Boo-yah!  I plopped 3 of those babies in my basket.  No arguments necessary.


So, here is what my son's closet looks like now.

I think a touch of aesthetics can make organizing less tedious, don't you?

Or am I rationalizing my bad Target habit?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Parenting: One of Those Days

Crisis - noun, plural crises
  1. a stage in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events, especially for better or for worse, is determined; turning point.
  2. a condition of instability or danger, as in social, economic, political, or international affairs, leading to a decisive change.
  3. a dramatic emotional or circumstantial upheaval in a person's life.
  4. my house, last night.
Let me first say that everything is okay.  No worries.  No one died.  I'm exaggerating.  Go back to your coffee (but skip the danish because bathing suit season is around the corner.  Or don't.  No judgments.).

I should have known, as a parent, that the live wasp in the basement was a portentous sign.  When my 10-year-old daughter bent her face close to the insect on the carpet and said, "Nope, it's alive," I should have known it was going to be one of those days.  Parents, you know the kind of day to which I refer.  One of those days when it's gorgeous outside, but nothing goes the way it should.

I should have waited for the other shoe to drop because that wasp, that trickster wasp, did not sting my daughter or me or my son.  And I should have known that just throwing a plastic cup over it and weighing it down with a block of wood until my husband arrived was not really a solution.

This isn't about the wasp.  That's just a symbol.

This is about my daughter's ear.  And parenting through one of those days.
Two weeks ago, I made good on the birthday promise - made in February - that my daughter could get her ears pierced.  Finally!  This was no minor accomplishment.  We had talked my husband down from age 18 to 14 to 12 and finally to 10.  Then we waited two months until performances and camping trips were over, for the end of soccer season, for the perfect time to do the deed.

Two weeks ago, I made good on the birthday 
promise - made in February - that my 
daughter could get her ears pierced.  Finally!  

After much discussion with other parents about the best place to take her, I made an appointment at a tattoo parlor.  Before you pass judgment, tattoo parlors are incredibly sterile and they use needles rather than guns, which make a very accurate and straight hole.  I should know.  I have three piercings on one ear and one on the other (it was the 90s, people; this was called rebellion) all of which were done with guns.  Two of the four holes are fine but the first ones, the ones I had done at the mall when I turned 12, the ones pierced by a teenager with an earring gun, those are slanted.  Consequently, I had no small amount of trouble with those piercings in the early days.

But this isn't about getting my daughter's ears pierced.  We did it and the two women who stood in tandem on either side of her with crazy sharp needles did an amazing job.  They were exact, sterile, and thorough in their explanation of how to keep the puncture wounds clean.  (They were also heavily tatted and pierced, but they were also super nice.)  No, this is about parenting during one of those days.

Fifi (my daughter's nickname) has been very diligent about ear care.  We clean them every night before bed with sterile saline and I check for redness.  They look great and she hasn't had any problems.

Enter my son.

He's seven and impish.  He doesn't mean to cause trouble, but he's a walking basket of chaos.  The kids were outside playing on my next door neighbor's lawn with some friends.  Two of the girls were jumping on each other's backs and wrestling.  One girl got her nose bonked and was in tears for a few minutes.  Another mom was standing nearby while I pulled weeds from my front flower bed.  Then I heard a panicked, rhythmic screaming and my name.  It was Fifi.  She was clutching her left ear and crying with a wild look in her eyes.  Her brother had jumped on her back and grabbed her ears to hold on.  She thought he had ripped the earring through her lobe.  Where the hell was my husband?

Fun fact:  I faint when I see blood.  

I took Fi inside and sat her down.  I washed my hands and grabbed a paper towel.  Neither of us wanted to look at her ear.  Mr. T (my son) came inside looking sheepish.  I knew he didn't mean to hurt her and I really couldn't deal with punishing him while she hyperventilated and clutched at me.  I had to calm her down and then see what we could do.

Since Fi didn't want me to leave her, I put Mr. T to work.  

"Get me an ice pack!"

He returned with a freezer pack that you put in ice chests.

"Maybe something smaller?"

This time, he found a smaller pack and swiftly left the room, scared.

"T, can you get me some tissues for your sister?"

I saw a hand reach around the corner with a wad of tissues.

"You're going to need to bring them to me.  Enter the room, buddy.  She's okay, but I can't leave her."

I could tell he felt miserable.  

"I think I'll just give myself a time-out," he suggested.

"That's fine.  Are you going to your room?"

"No, I think I'll just sit on the couch."

Meanwhile, Fifi was taking deeper breaths.  She couldn't tell me if her ear hurt.  I called my husband.  He was 10 minutes away, stuck in traffic (did I mention a water main burst near our house and we're on a boil water alert?  So, traffic was backed up all over the neighborhood because the streets were closed. Yeah, I told you, one of those days).


I peeked at the back of Fi's ear.  No blood.  I looked closely at the paper towel.  No blood.  We decided to hold the ice pack against her ear a little longer because if there was blood, a passed-out mommy was not going to be of any use.

And this is how my husband found us: on the floor, holding ice and paper towels to my daughter's completely intact, not-even-a-little-bit-bloody ear while her brother sat quietly on the couch in self-imposed time-out.  

The bad news is: we lost her earring.

The other bad news is: the tattoo place had already closed for the night.

So, I sterilized a silver post earring in alcohol, cleaned her ear with sterile saline, sprayed on Neosporin, plonked the earring in and twisted on the back.

It looked good as of this morning and I'm still awaiting a call back from the tattoo place.  I left two very panicky messages last night.  

At bedtime, I talked to my son.  

"You know you can't jump on your sister anymore."

"Yeah, but you may need to remind me.  I have some paper right over there.  You should write it down."

"I think you'll remember, bud."

And then we found a tick on my puppy.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Yes, No, I don't know: ADD and Indecision

Friends who have known me a long time have had to put up with my chronic indecision.  There was a time in my twenties when I thought there was something terribly wrong with me: I couldn't make big decisions and anguished over them for days with an on-going, obsessive pros-vs-con internal dialogue.  I had never met anyone else who did this and so I felt like an anomaly at best and a basket case at worse.  I don't want to rehash the past for my friends, but briefly I considered moving to at least 10 different cities within the first year after college graduation.  Okay, many people mull over life choices, especially after college, but my friends were en route, in their cars, renting apartments, packing boxes while I hemmed and hawed over whether or not to join them.  I did the same thing with job opportunities, big purchases like cars, and dating.  In short, I was a mess.


Does this sound familiar to you?  Have you had days, weeks, years like this?

I think I started experiencing chronic indecision in my teens, probably brought on by the stress of high school - I was determined to get as close to a 4.0 as possible so that I could get college scholarships so I could flee from home.  Not all of the stress was academic, however.  I was stressed by social situations.  All of my friends were dating; I wasn't.  Why?  Not because I was shy and not because no one was interested in me.  I didn't date because a.) I was a perfectionist and only wanted to date a handful of people, most of whom were unavailable and b.) because I couldn't decide what to do.  I actually went back and forth, will I/ won't I fashion with two different guys - one in 8th grade and one my junior year of high school - until they both said screw it, and pursued someone else.  I even did this to some degree with my husband while we dated, but thankfully he's a persistent bastard!

Here's what it feels like in my brain when the indecision hits: crushing.  It feels like crushing.  Like I'm trying to breathe under a boulder.

As I've gotten older, the decisions have gotten bigger and have had financial repercussions, and most of the time my response to decision making is the same: go to bed and eat a bag of Hershey Kisses.  This, my friends, does not help (just in case you were wondering).  Another not-so-great coping mechanism: thinking of alternative realities and putting all hopes in that fantasy basket.

But, as I've grown older I have also been able to let go of panic more easily.  Maybe this comes with age and experience.  Maybe having two children has made me less neurotic, as my friend Jane once suggested.  And maybe I've just gotten better at this whole decision thang.

Lately, I have found myself in another big decision situation - nothing earth-shattering, but something that involves spending money I may or may not have - and it is throwing me back under the boulder.  I found my copy of You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?!, by Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo (really kids, this is the ADD bible!) to help guide me through the crushing.  Some of the advice in the section "First Aid for Decision Making" depends upon hiring an ADD coach.  That's great if you can find one and can afford to, what do you call it?, pay said coach.  But a few pieces of wisdom rung through for me, advice I've read and even followed once or twice.

Allow me to summarize:

  • To avoid being overwhelmed by too many choices, keep your options minimal unlike the open tabs on your desktop.  Prioritize let's say three tasks.  Check them off when completed and choose the next three.  The point is to MOVE, not stay stuck in bed with a bag of Hershey Kisses.
  • You don't have to make the perfect decision, you just have to make a decision.  If you're paralyzed then find your favorite Derby hat, write down your choices on scrap paper, throw them in the hat and do whatever you draw out first.  
  • Stick with your decision.  No backsies.

I'm not a big fan of Nike, but I must say their slogan, in all it's simplicity, nails it: Just do it!

I say this as I rationalize why I'm still not making positive changes like getting back to yoga.  It's a process, people.  I'll be gentle with myself if you promise to do the same.

Let me know if you relate, share your stories of indecision, and even better share some of your success!