Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Just enough is (still) plenty

The girls and I were reading a Hannukah book back in March - the moral was that they always found a way turn just enough into plenty. It was an inspiring thought to me then, and it must be really good, because I've been thinking about it again lately.

We have just enough space in our house to add two more babies. Well, after some serious purging of every closet in the house to make way for all the stuff from our office/den/guest room to get cleared out. We haven't added a single square foot, but suddenly we've got plenty of space for new beds, clothes, and all that other paraphernalia that little people require.

I kind of like sewing, but mending seems to pile up. I'm acquiring an odd affinity for it though lately. There's something cool about breathing new life into the broken chair cushion ties, the shirt that Rachel took it upon herself to try cutting up, and the torn hand-me-down maternity jeans. A few minutes, a needle and thread, and just enough turns into a pile of good as new textile plenty!

And then this week began, with the triumph that I'd made it to the end of the month with just enough grocery money, which is my constant personal challenge and failure. But shoot, we need something for the sweet walk at the carnival, snack foods are running really low, and I'm more than a little bored of Cheerios and Frosted MiniWheats for breakfast. Enter some flour, sugar, and oatmeal. Sugar cookies aren't a Depression-era tradition for nothing (dressed up with some colorful frosting), rotten bananas make great snackable banana bread, and as for breakfast? Might as well clean out all the cabinets of honey, maple syrup, molasses, raisins, almond crumbs, and old-fashioned oats (yup, I literally drained every single one of those). The granola was such an improvement this morning. We've suddenly got plenty to enjoy until shopping day next Monday.

It's a space challenge, a clothing challenge, a food challenge (a time and money challenge!). But it is actually kind of fun to rise to the challenges, gratifying to conquer them, surprising how much you can get out of almost nothing. Just enough is (still) plenty at our house. How about yours?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It's now or never... (or is it really?)

I've had so many thoughts that I've wanted to quickly type up this month - those two great books* I finished, a pic of me at 28 weeks pregnant (now I'm 30...), back to school thoughts, health care. Inspiration came, went, and now it's not going to happen. And the recurring items on my to-do list like go to farmers' market, put together that scrapbook, vacuum the floor. Yeah, those haven't gotten done week after week either.

So does it really matter if my list of not-done-yets is exponentially long? What can wait, and what do I really need to make happen?

The "now or never" mandatory list is maybe a lot shorter than I think. Family, kids, life changes, crises tend to remind me of that.

Maybe only two times do I need to treat life with that NOW mentality: 1) deadlines and 2) inspiration.

Deadlines. Birthday parties for little girls in August. Gotta happen. Doctor appointments for unborn babies and flu shots for the rest of us. Gotta happen. Job applications for John and a few last work appointments and grading for me. Gotta happen. Chill time with my family and friends before eating/pooping/fussing/sleeping twins arrive. The days are dwindling. When my to-do list is mostly actual deadlines, it often shortens and always gets done.

Inspiration. And then between all those must-do deadlines come the must-notice inspirations. Not every inspiration is critical, but a lot of them are. If the thought is really that important, then quick, write it down. Capture it in scribbled sentence fragments, if not a well-polished blog :). Or if the autumn sun is shining, drop all the house "duties" and take the kids to the park. Ditto when both he and I find ourselves musing life on the couch. (Forget the dishes.) And away from home, stay and chat a while with a new friend on the playground after school, or run back into the grocery store to leave my number (and offer of baby clothes) with the checker who is pregnant too and has seen me through two pregnancies now. Many opportunities like these (especially the people ones) might never come again.

So, dear busy to-do-list-making-self, let the deadlines of you and those who are counting on you float to the top. Leave lots of room for flexibility when inspiration strikes. And if it's not one of those two, maybe it will happen, maybe it won't. No big deal, it's only sometimes "now or never".

*oh, and to add to your non-deadline-but-possibly-inspiring-list-of-things-to-do, here are a couple of the great books that I never got around to blogging about: "The spirit catches you and you fall down" by Anne Fadiman and "Father Michael's lottery - A story of Africa" by Johan Steyn. Cross-cultural medicine in America, and international medicine in Africa. Not exactly at the topics in the health care debates these days, but very challenging to think about. Yeah, the protruding belly (aka naps) has been giving me a little extra time to read!