Saturday, December 31, 2011

Trash Collector

Without going into too many specifics about my daughter, who is 9, I want to talk about the trash she couldn't deal with in her room. We cleaned out 5 kitchen-size bags of trash from her room. This included cheap broken toys (knick-knacks given in goodie bags at school holiday parties); wrappers upon wrappers; lollipop sticks; bits of paper; old school papers; old school folders and notebooks; plastic accessories for Littlest Pet Shop (we considered these trash); broken hair clips and headbands; a couple books with bindings broken so they fell apart; broken cheap tea set pieces, broken pencils and bits of crayons; broken costume jewelry; used up sticker books, coloring books, and drawing pads; tissues and napkins... That is all I can think of and really, isn't that enough? It seemed she couldn't get past all this trash. It was too overwhelming. Will thought maybe she had too many toys. I kept arguing that she only has three categories of toys in her room: Barbie, American Girl and Littlest Pet Shop; and they were organized in 4 clear plastic bins. No matter how specific we were with telling her to clean, she just couldn't do it on her own.

After 4 days of her "cleaning" her room, she really hadn't gotten anywhere, so Will and I went in there and dumped out all her desk drawers and toy bins to help her reorganize everything. That's when we realized there was trash in everything. We went through the little plastic crap that comes with every toy she receives and threw out some of it. I mean, it was just spread throughout the room, in every drawer, under her bed. There was no way she needed all of it. So, in that respect, Will got what he wanted in lessening the toys. We kept a few small accessories for Barbie and all her clothes and shoes for Barbie and the same for her American Girl doll.

How did the trash build up, though? Is she a hoarder? I don't think so, but I do think she has a difficult time separating what is trash and what is not. Part of this is the junk that kids are always accumulating. I'm talking about the crap made in China or India or Indonesia that serves no real purpose other than 5 minutes of entertainment before it becomes clutter. It's the stuff made from our water bottles. Did you know that all our water bottles are sold to China and then become the plastic toys our kids want? And we buy it! The culture of crap and clutter is hurting our kids' ability to place appropriate value on objects. Either kids are way too attached to all of it, or they don't realize what has real value (a $100 doll) and what doesn't ($5 small plastic toy).

At this point, our daughter's room is clean. It's been vacuumed and all the toys she really does play with are put in their correct bins. I blame myself mostly for the state of her room prior to cleaning it. In some ways I've been a lazy parent. I haven't taught her how to clear clutter from her backpack regularly and that clutter just spread throughout her room. Hence, I haven't taught her how to clear clutter regularly from her room. I told her I wouldn't be a lazy parent any longer and she would have to expect me to be on top of her about her room. Truthfully, she was relieved to hear that. As her father said, she'd created a prison of stuff and she needed to be freed.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Rest and Reading

I became sick with a cold the night before Christmas Eve. Thank goodness I had done all my cooking and baking that day, because the next day not only did I feel awful, but I was coughing and sneezing and runny-nosed. It's terrible to cook in that condition because every time you have to stop and blow your nose you have to wash or disinfect your hands and my fingers are dry and chapped enough. G has a tradition of being sick on Christmas, though last year was the only year she wasn't. She started the virus, which resulted in a doctor's visit and a negative strep test, and gave it to me and Will. S has a strong immune system and never got sick, the lucky girl. I was optimistic that I would get through with just a minor sore throat, but I got/have a full-blown sinus-focused cold. Even if other members of my family have a cold with sore throat or cough, my colds settle in my sinuses. Someone told me it must be awful to be sick for Christmas break, but I completely disagree. I'm glad it's over break rather than during a time when I need to go to work. I don't take off for colds and I hate being stuffy at work. I don't get the luxury of sitting and blowing my nose all day. I end up having a sinus pressure headache because I end up sniffling more. Six days later I'm still taking Mucinex-D around the clock and feeling weak and blah. That may be a good sign because the day before G felt all better she had a fever and felt weak and achy. This may be the final hurrah for my body to kill this virus.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my break by resting, resting, resting. I watched three seasons of Nip/Tuck (fast-forwarding through parts I didn't care for such as gore or sappy montages). I've done a load of laundry each day and kept up on dishes. I took the girls to visit my mom and sister and play a board game. I typed some hand-written recipes to put in the new binder my mom gave me for Christmas. And it's been really nice to not feel stressed or wiped out at the end of the day, which has resulted in a happier home and more quality time with my husband. The kids seem to feel the same way. I'm also getting some reading done. My sister gave me Queen Bees and Wannabes. I think it'll help me with the coming teenage years with my daughters. It's fitting because I gave S the American Girl books The Care and Keeping of You and The Care and Keeping of Your Emotions. She has already read them both and told me that when I tried to explain puberty to her it sounded scary, but now she's looking forward to it. My daughter actually wants to develop breasts and get her period. When I was a kid I wanted nothing to do with any of it. Well, I guess I was a little excited to be developing, but I was scared they'd get too big. What a waste of worrying, ha! Those who know me get that one, right? As for my period, no thank you. Who wants to think about that when you're busy playing house, climbing trees, swimming in the summer, sledding in the winter. I'm glad S is feeling happy about it though. So now she's got books to help her feel normal and give her ways to deal when she doesn't and so do I.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

December 17

Once we get to the 15th of December Christmas starts becoming very real! Our neighborhood is lit with colorful lights, I play Christmas music on the way home from school, and it's coming down to the wire for ordering online gifts. While we still need a few gifts for family members and neighbors and friends, I've done pretty well at getting things ahead of time. I'm slightly antsy about my recent Amazon order even though the site makes it easy by offering free shipping and letting you know if it'll get to you by Christmas.... the 24th as the latest delivery date is cutting it close! Probably we'll get it much earlier as they give you a large window of possible delivery dates. The kids are going to be VERY spoiled this year, as in all years really! It pays to be the only two grandkids on both sides of the family with 2 sets of grandparents and many aunts and uncles, including the adopted kind.

This year we kept it pretty minimal in decorating the house. I've been very busy at work and haven't had great energy levels, so we only got out enough to make it festive. In our living room, which is the entrance to the house and where the girls use the computer for games and movies, we put lights around the entrance to the dining room and around the banister. We decorated the top of the piano with a mini-tree; our angel tree-topper sits next to it; and beside that there is the Little People Nativity. Our four stockings hang from the top of the bookshelf and our antique elves sit up top. In the basement, where Will and I watch TV we put a table-top tree. I guess it's about 4 foot. We only got out the girl's ornaments which are plenty to decorate the small tree. A colorful star and color lights in addition to the prelit white lights of the tree make it very cheerful. I love sitting by the glow of a Christmas tree in the evening.

Santa will be visiting us at my parent's house this year. Last year S was in the Christmas pageant at our parish, but only 2nd graders are involved, so we'll be back there next year for G. Both sides of the family came to Christmas eve mass last year and had dinner at our house. This year, we'll be going to my parents, attending mass at their church, and staying the night. After the kids go to bed the adults exchange gifts. This is a tradition we started when I was a kid. After friends had left, my sister and brother and I would exchange our gifts for one another. After we had S, this tradition grew and the exchange extended to our boyfriends, now our spouses, and now my brother's girlfriend, who is the best gift-giver! With living in NC for a few years, we took turn traveling for Christmas, but when we came up to MD, we continued the Christmas eve gift exchange. Then Will's parents get us for Christmas day and dinner. It's a whirlwind of presents for everyone. The kids get Santa gifts in the morning, then gifts from grandparents and aunts and uncles, which sometimes starts Christmas eve since Christmas day will be filled with so many already. This year Santa will be leaving a couple gifts under our tree at home, too. One, because it's too large to travel, and the other to be fair. The magic is still going for G and S is dealing with knowing the truth and still keeping up the joy and magic of the holiday. She's been good about keeping the secret, but she'd like to find a classmate in the same boat as her. The problem is even if a friend does know what she knows, they've also been told never to tell any other kids, so they all just lie to each other telling each other they believe in Santa. It's pretty hilarious.

I doubt I'll blog again before Christmas, so Happy Holidays!