July 24, 2015

Surprise!: July 24, 2015

You know how sometimes you find a couple of bucks when you clean out an old purse or empty your pockets? I found a cheque that I had 100% thought I’d deposited weeks ago.  It’s like free money now and/or bill payments!

This is a nice bonus of cleaning up.

Also happy birthdays to my two left-handed brothers-in-law.

Day 266 scorecard: 1330 down, 515 to go


July 23, 2015

Hand to Mouth: July 23, 2015

One of the best ways to 5Down to a simpler life is to focus on cutting down steps between your food and your mouth.  Clara and I accomplished this in spades tonight.

First we drove to my sister’s house.  Then, we brought out our boxes and filled them (8 of them) with cherries from her sour cherry tree.  Then, we drove home and I pitted every single one of them while she took a leisurely bath.

Solomon "Gee, they look a LOT like cherry tomatoes!"  Me "Uh, where do you think the name "cherry" tomato came from"  Solomon (pause) "oh yeah..."

They look sweet, but they could peel the skin right off your face.  DO NOT RUB ON FACE.

How amazing is that?

4 of the boxes are in bags in the freezer, 4 of the boxes are waiting to be transformed into jam and pie.  These are truly sour sour cherries, so there is no fear of greatly diminishing stocks (a danger with other fruit I have prepared ahead of time for jam-making or pie-making).

Thanks, farmer sister: we picked as much as we could and there is still a ton left.

Day 265 scorecard: 1325 down, 520 to go


July 22, 2015

Mudroom Oasis: July 22, 2015

I have not updated you on my Yoga progress in a while.  Suffice it to say that I have missed a couple of days, but I am back on track.  Today, Boot Camp took the place of Yoga because it took the place of every scrap of energy I had in me.  Now, I am a puddle.*

On the weekend, I did a big clear-out of our mudroom and it is such a pleasure to walk into now.  There is something so soothing about a clean, clear space.  It’s exceptionally easy for crap to accumulate, to roll into corners and under things.  It takes a little more everyday focus to clean everything right to the edges and not simply clear out a spot in the middle of chaos.  It might seem clean with the edges left off, but it’s amazing how much more restful a spot is when it’s truly to-the-edges clean.

That’s all I’ve got for today – one soothing spot in my house.  It’s better than none, right?

Day 264 scorecard: 1320 down, 525 to go

* also there was no class at lunch today and there are only so many hours in a day.

July 21, 2015

Thoughts On “Rescuing” My Kid From Camp: July 21, 2015

Every day, I throw things out.  It’s the entire heart of this year long project.  Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s hard, but usually it involves some sort of time commitment and some examination of why I had the object in the first place.

Last week I had to throw out what I thought everyone expected the parent of a sleepaway camper to do.  Last week, I drove out in the middle of the night, and retrieved my middle child from camp. No, it wasn’t a physical object, but it took an enormous amount of time, thought, effort, and heartache. Here are some of the things I learned from this experience:

1. Teaching my child to be tenacious is not necessarily the same thing as teaching him to endure what he perceives as misery.  This is a hard thing to parse out because my misery is your joy.  The thought of a flash mob of dancing people around me makes me almost want to vomit.  Other people, mobs of people even, think this is the definition of pure bliss.  My kid was telling me his perception of his world was misery.  The question I had to ask was “do I trust what he is telling me, or do I trust conventional wisdom about toughening kids up.”

In his case, he learned that tenacity is as much about making your voice heard as it is about enduring crying himself to sleep at night.

2. It’s okay to question our decisions as parents.  It really is.  I talked to so many people last week: parents and non-parents (even brand new parents, who already understand how difficult even the smallest of decisions can be when it dictates another person’s entire universe).  It turns out most parents are hugely conflicted about how to decide things.  Camp is a big one.  One friend feels like she traumatized her child for life because the child was not permitted to phone home from camp.  Another wished he’d started sending his child earlier because of the experiences the child had missed out on.

I have not felt any judgement from fellow parents for the decision to retrieve him.

3. We don’t always know how to make decisions that are too close to us.  It’s like this: someone else I knew told me how they had contemplated a punishment for if their child returned home early.  My reaction was easy: I knew that was the wrong approach, I knew that hitting that point of return (or no return, if you will) was going to be so emotionally traumatic for everyone, adding a punishment almost felt gratuitous.  And yet, when it came to my child, I immediately thought of offering rewards for staying and punishments for leaving. Thankfully, I took my own advice, and I did not have to hit him when he was down.

When he came home he slept for 12 hours that night/day and went to bed early the following night.  He was so emotionally drained as to be nearly immobilized.

4. Being a hero is great if you reserve it for emergencies.  Helicopter parenting is the phrase du jour – no one wants to be seen as the hovering parent who slips into Junior’s calculus class at University to kiss his boo-boo better and give the Professor a good tongue-lashing for that minus on the A-.  But isn’t it just the best thing in the whole world to know that someone has your back?  That no matter how far down you go, there will be a pair of open arms?

When I pulled up that night and Solomon was standing on the steps (he’d heard me drive in, I was the only car) I was so glad.  And when he waited, cautiously, for me to come to a complete stop and turn the car off and then (and only then) rush toward me, arms wide…I felt like the superest superhero there ever was.  I was Mom, by gum, and I had made it all right.  The time is coming when I will not be able to do this for him, but last week, I could and I did.

5. Believing and trusting your kid can be transformative.  The phone calls, when he could hardly speak, were filled with horror stories of mean kids, heartless counsellors, and a cruel system that frog-marched kids from one extreme activity to the next.  The drive home, in his soft and relaxed voice, was filled with stories of new friends, counsellors who sought assistance and became incredible support systems, and a camp filled with hustle and bustle of interesting and engaging fun activities.  As soon as he was able to relax into safety it was as though a magic wand had waved over his memory and transformed everything into the best version of itself.

I can’t tell you what to do if your kid is at camp and miserable.  I also can’t tell you what to do when your kid comes home from camp and is more than a little peeved that you would not send him for a second week (Max, last year).  I know I made the right decision last week and I made it by really, honestly trying to just throw out what I should do and just trying really hard to hear what my child was saying to me.

He’s dead sure his sister is going to love it there.

Day 263 scorecard: 1315 down, 530 to go

July 20, 2015

Moon in July?: July 20, 2015

I will admit that I was disappointed when I learned the first sentence spoken from the moon had been previously scripted.

(Of course, if I were scripting it, I would have said “a person” and “humanity,” but that is beside the point.)

The point is that if I were landing on the moon, I would have gone off script.

I probably would have said “I’m Queen of the MOON!” or “it’s MINE, allll mine!” or “beat that, suckers!”

This likely would not have been as inspirational, however, it would be a challenge and maybe it would have prompted a little more of the off-world-landing stuff.  Maybe we would be living in pods on Mars by now. We’d have personal jet-packs and food we synthesized from the sun’s rays.  Heck, we’d probably be made of TITANIUM.  If only I had been born there to offer up something spontaneous and irksome enough to elicit an earth-wide response.

Just because someone was afraid to go off-script.

Of course, he accidentally went off script, which (when you think about it) is far worse than ad-libbing something hokey.  One line, ONE LINE he had, and he flubbed it.  The first step onto another “heavenly body” and he probably always cringed a little, every time he thought about it.  Oh, the humanity.  The entire world tuning in to hear you skip a small, but crucial, word.

5Down the script, guys, go for spontaneity.

Day 262 scorecard: 1310 down, 535 to go

July 19, 2015

Kilchering – July 19, 2015

For you, dear reader, I am embarking on a new mission: I have acquired, and have begun reading, the trendiest trendy book on de-cluttering.  As I wade through this (already repetitive) tome called the life-changing magic of tying up*: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing by marie kondo.  So far, the most annoying part of this book is that she has named her “method” after herself and then explained how it is named after herself.  She calls it the KonMari method.  I believe I shall re-name this blog the KilCher method…which (to be fair) does not sound nearly as pleasant.  Kilcher sounds more like someone who is getting away with something they really should not be doing.

“I just put that item down, where did it go?”

“I don’t know, looks like that crazy 5Down woman kilchered it again!”

*heavy sighs all around*

In any case, I promise to provide a more fulsome report once I’ve read the entire thing.  The true testament will be whether I keep the book, though, since her first direction is to get rid of everything that doesn’t spark joy.  I’m going to summarize that as – kilcher non-joy stuff.

You’re welcome.

Day 261 scorecard: 1305 down, 540 to go

* for some reason there are no upper case letters in the title, sub-title, or author’s name, with the sole exception of the word “Japanese.”

July 18, 2015

Insults to Injuries: July 18, 2015

Among the things there are too many of in this world, I would include sequels.  Movie sequels, in particular. Especially when they’re sequels to “blockbusters.”  It’s like the opposite of creativity.  A phrase which seems particularly apropos for my blog-writing these days.

Maybe I need to do some sequels to blog posts of my greatest hits.  I’m sure Jeff Goldblum will star in them.

Day 260 scorecard: 1300 down, 545 to go