Monday, February 1, 2010

My Rules for Gadgets

So yesterday a friend of mine asked "Why do so many people feel the need to live up to others expectations." This is one of those things I ponder on a regular basis. For many, gadgets are the top new toy, the latest and greatest thing to "change and improve your life." For me, a gadget is anything (from a well organized coupon book to a reader)that makes my life all that much easier and helps me to prioritize my time. For the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a gadget is simply a "device". Generally, I do not have the newest, latest or greatest gadget. I buy what I need and if I don't need all of the bells and whistles, I get the model that has only what I need.

Like my friend, I am sick and tired of hearing people complain about the stuff they need. One fo my favorites is that their car is 3 years old and they need a new one for the simple reason that they have the old body style.

I do try to remind myself quite often that every one's priorities and lifestyle/situation are unique.

So here is my rule for the gadgets in my life: simply that it must help to simplify my day and does not necessarily need to be new, shiny, or flashy. It just needs to work and work for me.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

We Are Now a Two Crock Pot Family

And I am still trying to figure out why this status has made me so happy. I love slow cooking but am nowhere near mastering this art. Of all of my gadgets my slow cooker (I use the Rival Crock Pot brand) is probably one of the few that required a low "initial investment" but it brings me a great deal of happiness. There is something super satisfying about preparing dinner hours early and knowing it will be ready at the time to eat and it will probably be good. I mean who wouldn't feel good about dinner cooking and the kitchen cleaned all by 10 am?

I have a really old "crock pot" recipe book. I have looked through it several times and it truly just turns my stomach. Some of the recipes are really gross and I have not found the grocery store checkout magazines to be much better. So I have turned to the Internet and found a blog I just love, called A Year of Slow Cooking I am amazed at what the author Stephanie can do with a slow cooker. She spent a year using her slow cooker every day and as also written a cookbook and according to the article in my local newspaper yesterday, she is working on another.

So if you don't have a slow cooker I recommend running right out and getting one. find a good cookbook and have your dinner cooking at 10 am too.
I stress about things. Anything and everything is fair game and the new radon commercials aren't helping. Over the last year and a half my life had waxed and waned in the stress department but I have never been happier. So in trying to figure out how it is possible to be super stressed and still happy at the same time I came to the great realization that the more I am doing the more stressed I am; but the more I stop to look at the positives in my life, the simple little things the happier I became.

In 2009 my husband, family, and myself dealt with more tragedy and grief and really any one should. We started in February with the loss of my Dad. I was devastated for myself. I adored my Dad and was miserable without him, he was Mr. Fix It, an all around great guy who came to my rescue at any hour of the day. I was also devastated for my husband (B) who only had a few years with this great and wonderful man and had grown very close to him during this time. My Dad was also awesome at explaining me to my husband - I like to think I am very simple, but according to B I am more complex than major scientific theory. Whatever. I was devastated for my Mom. See my parents were a classic love story, they met in college, got married, and were partners in life. She is way too young for me to worry about but I do. And finally I was devastated for all of the other family members, and people out there who were so effected by my Dad's death. It was sudden and entirely unfair. But soon after we found out we were expecting, what I called our miracle baby. I didn't stress or worry - first of all because I didn't know to with this being our first pregnancy and secondly I assumed that because we had just endured such a horrid tragedy that there was no way a second one could happen to us. The first 12 weeks of the pregnancy were pretty typical, with a few hiccups but we were told not to worry. So we did, a little but when we hit 12 weeks and all was still good we stopped worrying and began to tell the world. We went in at 13 weeks 1 day for the first/second trimester screening and saw a baby on the ultrasound screen, a pretty big, beautiful baby measuring right at 13 weeks with no heartbeat or blood flow. My miracle baby, a little girl was dead and my body gave me no signs. For the second time that year devastation set in, all of the dreams I had for our life and our new addition were gone. There would be no long walks with A&B (our fur kids and please don't tell me that dogs aren't kids I will immediately develop a very low opinion of you), no picnics in the park, no quiet snuggles with the 5 of us, no baby to join our family. For roughly a month and a half I was a zombie - I didn't care about much and I was raw from grief. Not to mention everyone around me was either pregnant or had a newborn. No one knew what to say and I was pretty sure I was going to punch the next person who said "don't worry you will get pregnant again." During an argument with B one night (which had become a regular occurrence) I said all I want is a family. He looked pained by my announcement, pointed to A&B and said "well then what are we?" And I realized I do have a family - its unconventional but still a family. We support and take care of each other and A&B were the only ones who knew exactly what I needed when I got home from the hospital after the D&C. Then I started to talk, about miscarriage, and about my experience and found out I was a member of a very large club who by society has been shushed, because no one wants to talk about or hear about miscarriage - except for those who have been through it - which is A LOT!!!! I began to feel less lonely and realized that I have taken my family and life for granted. I needed to be grateful for what I have in life because you never know when you won't have it anymore. I began to adopt a new philosophy - be grateful for what you have and forget the things you don't. Yeah it's good to want things but to get those things you have to sacrifice. I watch B do it every day as he works in a very demanding job and goes to school at night. And I see so many others do it they will work crazy hours to get stuff. They sacrifice for stuff. I'm not talking about supporting your family I am talking about the luxuries. Why do they matter? I like to use the example of my car here. It's old but paid for, reliable, (ok granted I would not take it on a cross country trip) comfortable, and just about everything works (the clock did ages ago). A new flashy car would be fun and don't get me wrong I would love to have one but why? I don't need it so there is no reason for it. My entire focus shifted, I was now grateful for my family, thankful for the wonderful memories of my Dad, happy that I did not have a baby that was suffering due to development problems, and I tried to move my focus to what I have instead of what I wanted and I began to feel happier. In August we were once again expecting and made it to October without anything too horrible. Then B's Mom passed away. I was not close to her but it pained me to see the hurt in his eyes. I knew what he felt and having just experienced this I knew there was no way I could make it better. I felt helpless. A week later we went to the doctor for our 8 week appointment and had lost the baby as well. I grieved for a shorter time this time and once again focused on what I had. We are now hoping for a better 2010.

So here we are, is anyone going to read this, well maybe but probably not and that's ok. But if you are reading, I hope the little insights into my life bring a smile to your face and maybe (just maybe) some tips and tricks for you to enjoy your life a little more. In the Disney movie Lilo & Stitch, Stitch says toward the end "This is my family, its small, and broken but still good" This seems to sum it all up for me.