Monday, March 26, 2012

DIY lamp - run, don't walk, to your nearest Target!

I had some time to kill at Target while I was waiting for the pizza to be ready for pick-up. Because SOMEONE wanted to finish his game before he ordered it. So really, this is all his fault.

I occupied myself by lingering in aisles my frugal self normally avoids because I know I have certain weaknesses. I meandered down the lamp aisle and found these on an end-cap:

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What caught my attention first was the price tag. $6.26?? For a full-sized glass lamp? Awesome! I kind of have a lamp addiction. I don't buy nearly as many as my heart wants me to buy, but enough so that my husband says "uh-oh, is it a lamp?" when I call to tell him I might bring home something not on the list. And then I usually put said lamp back because I talk myself out of it.

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But these lamps were more alluring than normal. Free light bulb, too!

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After noticing the price and the light bulb, I picked a lamp up to inspect it closer. That's when I noticed that there is no base; the structure is a simple open-ended glass container.

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I realized how quick and easy it would be to customize these. I could buy one of those little paint samples at the hardware store mixed to absolutely any color to perfectly tie the lamp into the scheme of a room. Then I'd paint the inside of the lamp, being mindful of the cord, and it would make the paint look like glass — similar to the effect of painting this clear plastic snowflake:

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The paint would hide the cord and make the lamp look worth way more than $6.26. For the kids' rooms I could create designs or letters to plaster to the inside of the glass using clear epoxy, then apply the paint.

I could affix any items to the inside using the epoxy — flowers, stones, bark, sand... anything! I could even simply place the lamp over some small item.

One thing led to another and I didn't put the lamps back on the shelf. I also didn't tell my husband I was bringing them home — the risk of being talked out of it was too great. I got the "uh-oh" when he unloaded the car. :)

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Eventually I'll paint these. Eventually. I posted about the lamps now because I wanted to share the good value before they all disappear. I'll show you the finished product when it happens.

Tell you what... my husband is lucky that I only came home with two!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Alonergy

The doorbell rang, as usual, right as my youngest was about to drift off to sleep. I had been fighting him for an hour to get him to take a much-needed nap. A stampede of feet ran to the door, then headed for the stairs. I quickly met them downstairs and reminded them to be quiet. I needed their little brother to sleep since he had been sick.

"Can we play with the neighbors outside?" My daughter asked with excitement.

"Sure, as long as you stay where I can see you."

My 5 year old son thought about the situation for a minute.

"Actually mommy, I don't want to go outside. I'll just stay inside." He had in his hand a small plastic lizard that he picked from the prize bucket at school. (He named the lizard "Leper," since he was as small as a Leprechaun. I explained to him what a leper was, but he didn't mind the association. "Leper's my best friend, mommy.")

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My daughter went outside, I stood watch upstairs to make sure the youngest fell asleep in his room, and my Kindergartner played with Leper downstairs. I overheard their conversation as they discussed bathrooms. Apparently, Leper wishes he had a cool bathroom too.

My son wandered upstairs and found a basket that I had bought for his socks. "Is this for me!?" He asked.

"Yeah, do you want to take it into your room?"

He grabbed the basket and closed himself in his room. He was in there for a good 20 minutes, doing something. When he came out, he was beaming with pride. "Mommy, come look! I organized my closet all by myself!" Sure enough, he had cleaned up and re-arranged his closet. "I bet Jesus and Heavenly Father will LOVE that I organized my closet," he told me with a smile. I contained my laughter and told him that I'm sure they were very happy that he cleaned up all by himself.

My Kindergartner thrives when he's on his own. I love listening in on his running dialogue when he is playing by himself. His imagination takes him places that he apparently can't get to when there are other distractions around. Not that he never wants to play with others; he loves school and is always excited to go and be with his friends. But he needs some alone time as well to come up with songs like "Ohio is a Stupid, Stupid, Stupid Name for a State." (He later apologized to Ohio for calling it stupid.) I understand where he gets it from; I'm an introvert myself. My brother who is also an introvert coined this term, in contrast to the concept of synergy, that sums it up best for me:

Alonergy.

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My daughter — she is an extrovert. She wants constant interaction with others. She never wants to come inside when it's time. Contrast that to my son, who goes out and happily plays for half an hour or so, then will come back inside on his own to unwind. I think he likes the opportunity to be inside when everyone else is outside and enjoy a rare moment of silence in the house. Or vice versa, he'll happily play by himself if he finds something that fascinates him outside. He doesn't mind that the group of neighborhood children has moved on to a different game; he'll choose to stay where he is and focus on the interesting thing at hand.

For some people, being alone isn't sad. It isn't lonely. It's creative and productive. Sure, there needs to be a balance of skills — being able to be happy alone or with others — that I'm still trying to navigate myself. I have the same struggle he does. Sometimes I take that tendency to turn inward in order to re-energize a little too far. I'll be 35 weeks pregnant, get a cold and my first ever sinus infection, and have projects to complete. I'll take refuge in my own little world, take more than enough time to heal, a week or two will go by, and I'll realize that I haven't had a conversation w ith anyone outside the home the whole time. And sometimes the reason for becoming a hermit is simply that I don't feel like I have "it" together. Eventually, though, I do take a step outside and am ready to greet people out there and I'm always glad I did.

My Kindergartner doesn't over-analyze his situation. He simply does what makes him happy. He takes an hour or so to himself, recharges, then tracks down his little brother and asks him if he wants to play Transformers 10: Battle Time of the Lava Dragon. I hope he always manages that balance so effortlessly. I hope his "shyness" doesn't make him feel self-conscious, or eventually turn into social anxiety. His brand of alonergy is so sweet and awesome that I'd hate to see it suppressed by him or by social pressures.

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He's just so happy and comfortable in his own skin right now. Someone please tell me that he will always be that self-confident! Parents get to control that, right?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Vomit Coaching 301

As I was washing down my kitchen floor the other night, I realized that there are some skills that the parenting books never talk about. This post is dedicated to one such skill — dealing with vomit.

(Disclaimer — First of all, sorry for a post dedicated to throwing up! I'll post some photos from the trip we took when this happened to make the experience a little more pleasant. Second, please note that as I have more children, I become ever more aware that every child is different and I really know nothing after having partially raised three children. The odds of any skill actually being useful to anyone is pretty low.)

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I had to learn the fine art of coaching a child through a barfing spell the hard way. I learned that my first instinct isn't always the best/cleanest option.

Once upon a time, when my children were four and two, the kids and I took a trip to my parents' house for my sister's wedding.

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Our little family was in the room downstairs that is the farthest away from the bathroom. In between my space and the toilet was a long hall covered in wood flooring. One evening while we were in our room, my daughter convulsed and made the noise that signaled vomit was imminent. I quickly scooped her up.

Okay, let's stop right there for a minute.

This is a perfect example of my instinct gone wrong. If you were feeling ill and were fighting the urge to vomit, how would you feel if someone twice your size quickly scooped you up and swung you around? Yeah, I wouldn't respond well to that, either.

My daughter certainly did not respond well. I should have only swept her up like that if I were able to get to a more agreeable surface within two steps. In my defense, she was standing on carpet. Carpet and vomit are mortal enemies. But I didn't grab her to put her over a hard surface. I had other instincts taking over.

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She started to hurl and my brow furrowed. My concern for her took over. She heard my voice, saw my face, and absorbed my emotions. Tears, of course, started flowing. If mom is that worried, surely something must be horrifically wrong.

Here's what I should have done.

I should have been the coach before being the concerned parent. I should have talked my child through the event, letting her know that she's doing a great job. My first instinct was to physically touch and comfort her. But before I got involved, she really wasn't thinking of me in that moment — she was too focused on her convulsing stomach.

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Instead of reaching out to give a hug, which only resulted in vomit smeared in my hair and clothing and an even more distraught child, I should have calmly coached from the sidelines. I've since learned to pretend this is a regular, every-day experience. I've learned to encourage her to stay right where she is until it's over, and then go for the hug after the fact.

But I didn't do that.

Instead, in a panic about holding a barfing/crying child over my parents' carpeted floor, I bolted for the place that I, myself, head for if I feel that way — the toilet.

Oh, and then the instinct to limit the mess hit me, and I tried to "catch" the vomit as I ran down the hall. That didn't work out too well. I underestimated the projectile part of the equation. It ricocheted off my hand and splashed onto the walls and floors all the way to the bathroom.

Sigh. It was not one of my better moments.

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If I had been thinking more clearly, I would have tried to contain the radius of ick. What I should have done, since I had already scooped her up, is quickly plunked her on the hard floor hallway or over a blanket. And then I should have backed away slowly and calmly until she was done.

Oh, and as a side note, I have since learned (the hard way of course) that an audience of siblings exponentially increases the radius of ick. Note to self — send any little spectators out of the room immediately.

Then I made the mistake of using towels to clean it all up. I should have used disposable products, like diaper wipes, to do it. Instead I found myself scraping the big pieces off the towels and into the trash before I could put them in the wash. Such a rookie mistake!

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By the time my daughter made it to the bath and everything was cleaned up I wanted to cry. Not only because of the mayhem, but also because she got throw-up on her beloved blankie and I didn't have a back-up to give her while she waited. And she really needed her blankie.

(Note to self — for this new baby, buy identical blankets if possible. But don't let the baby know I have two, or else he'll expect to have both.)

I had two children at that point. You would think that I would have known how to deal with vomit by then. Apparently not! I still have a lot to learn. But I won't be making the mistake of trying to catch the throw-up again. Not unless I'm catching it in a bucket.

(Note to self — don't write a post about vomit right before lunch!)
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