Many years ago, I was struck by something I read in the NYT about death and home organizing.
What on earth has death got to do with home organizing?
I give you Lisa Whited, a professional organizer in the NYT piece who entered the profession when her kids were young and she thought she was going to die:
… one of her first worries was about her husband and three small children: “How is Pete going to know where everything is?”
She … began labeling the clear plastic bins she stored everything in. Children’s medicine. Adult medicine. Bread. Waffles (In a plastic bin in the freezer). Candy. Cat treats. All the stuff in the cellar: Caulking. Paint thinner. Linseed Oil.
This rang very true for me.
It is very likely, should I ever have to tell my children I was going to die before they were very very very old, that I would probably make them each a personalized, tabulated, color-coded binder with labeled instructions for everything I could imagine they would possibly need to survive day-to-day without me.
I would probably fixate on these binders so deeply that I’d miss out on other, incredibly important, conversations we could have.
I’m not good at big, messy feelings.
So I went and made a neat little list on this topic, instead.
Next week, I ought to start examining my less-examined life.
This week, I give you:
Last week a dear friend of mine was in a truly catastrophic traffic accident. A dump truck, poorly parked on a hill above Hollywood Boulevard, came loose from whatever shitty brake mechanism was or wasn’t engaged, and hit a city bus at such high speed it knocked that bus across lanes and into, over, and through my friend’s car. This event was basically the traffic equivalent of Spacelab falling on you.
Spacelab fell on my friend.
The photos on the news were the scariest fucking thing I have ever seen. They were the scariest fucking thing every one of my friends, and her thousands and thousands of other friends, have seen. If you had seen those photos, you too would be stunned my friend survived.
My friend is Wonder Woman. My friend, despite having ended up under a bus, is still with us, if in a hospital, in a bed, and in a lot of pieces. She is being put back together, slowly, and at the end of this, she is going to be Bionic Woman, too. It takes a lot of effort to put back together what a bus has torn apart, and a hell of a lot of strength, and spirit, and if anyone can do it, my friend can.
And in the meantime, led by the amazing example of her amazing husband, who daily updates her thousands of friends via incredible, warm, funny, honest, sincere, and loving emails, we focus on the miracles that have come out of this fucking mess.
Wonder Woman is still with us – that’s a miracle.
You wanna know the other miracle? Wonder Woman wasn’t the only one in the car. Continue reading “Wonder Woman Wants to Know: Do Your Kids Know Your Phone Number Yet?” »
So, as you know if you’ve been following me on Twitter, FB, or Pinterest, Diddy had a loose tooth.
Tuesday, she finally lost it, thanks to tumbling off the monkey-bars and smacking her face on the fake grass of the Pre-K playground.
Love the Bottle Bank I’ve got posted over on my Pinterest boards.
I saw this a few days ago, the same day my dad sent me an awesome poem, via an old friend of his who has moved down to Mexico and delights in emailing his pals poetry. (How cute is that?) This poem seemed particularly cool, not just because any poem called “Mother” is immediately cool on it’s face, but because THIS PARTICULAR mother wants her son to to make a little money, already — which is a pretty regular conversation between me and my Dad, if you want to know the truth.
It’s also pretty timely around here, as we’ve started giving Diddy and Gaga weekly allowances to try to hammer home the “save your pennies” lesson. (OK, that and also because I got tired of the constant whining for presents and decided it was time the girls learned that all this crap they’re accumulating a)) costs money and b)) ought to be treated with more respect — BECAUSE IT COSTS MONEY.)
Anyway, our method is pretty easy, and as far as I know, pretty standard — I based it on what I could glean from interweb content drawn from The Financially Intelligent Parent : 8 Steps To Raising Successful, Generous, Responsible Children. (I keep meaning to just buy the book already, but I haven’t yet because I was supposed to get it for free by attending a this cool event our local NPR station held, but then I got too sick to go to the event and a part of me keeps hoping they’ll send me the book ANYWAY.)
But back to the girls:
Basically, the girls’ allowances are pegged to their ages, so Diddy gets $5 and Gaga gets $3.
(UPDATE: A few readers emailed to ask if Gaga understands the money concept, mostly because they were worried that they hadn’t started their own 3-yos on financial programs yet. Gaga has close-to-no clue what this whole money thing is really about, and if she were an only child I really wouldn’t have bothered starting her on allowance until she were 5 or 6. But she and Diddy are close enough in age that excluding Gaga would have caused more trouble than not. Still: YOU ARE NOT BEHIND THE BALL IF YOUR 3 YO ISN’T YET TRACKING THE UPS-AND-DOWNS OF YOUR 401K, PROMISE!)
Every Sunday night, we hand the girls their cash.
Then each girl divides her allowance into three piles, and deposits one third each into their “wallets” (spending), piggy/cupcake/princess banks (savings), and tzedekah boxes (giving).
I think it’s pretty clear from the photos whose assorted money-collecting systems are whose. Yeah, Diddy’s a kid who likes to have options — she takes after Grandmere Checklist that way. (Oh and: she built that second tzedekah box at her preschool Woodworking class. Love that my 5 yo takes Woodworking!)
Anyway, aside from letting the girls’ personalities shine though, this system has so far been AWESOME in about a billion other ways, too:
First off, since the girls go to a ((super-progressive)) Jewish pre-school that practices tzedekah every Friday, the idea of “1/3 goes to charity” has not only been super-easy to explain, but more importantly, the girls are super-proud of their own giving-power, and because they LOVE bringing their OWN tzedekah money to school each week, they never forget it anymore and we’re no longer scrounging for pennies on the floor of the car each Friday as we idle on the drop-off line.
Secondly, this system killed, practically OVERNIGHT, the whole “we want crap NOW, why can’t we get it NOW, why can’t we have ALL THIS JUNK NOW!?!” routine we were finding ourselves in 24/7. Take the case of the gymnastics junk food trap. A few months ago, I decided I was tired of throwing cash at overpriced cheese-cracker combos at tgymnastics class, and started bring Z-bars with us instead. Diddy especially DID NOT take well to this change. So finally I told her if she wanted gym snacks, SHE could pay for them. The following week, we brought Diddy’s and Gaga’s wallets with us. Diddy bought a $2 treat. Gaga bought a $0.50 treat. Diddy hated that her sister got CHANGE while she didn’t — and she didn’t like that spending that $2 meant she was now $2 further away from her goal of buying a new “Our Generation” doll at Target. At bedtime she informed me she wanted to go back to the Z-bar system and save up for the doll, rather than squandering her spending funds on junk food.
My kid’s a genius, what can I say?
And THEN, suddenly one day, both girls had enough to go to Target and purchase their dream toys! Diddy had the funds for her Our Generation Doll, and Gaga had her eye on a Baby Belle Doll. As luck would have it, Target was all out of Gaga’s Belle doll that day, so she decided on a Disney Princess Belle Teapot, instead — once again, way under-spending her sister and leaving Target with more money in her pocket than Diddy had (already I can see Gaga takes well after her Aunt Checklist, who has always been smart with her cash). And you should SEE the way these girls love their new toys — because THEY paid for them. Diddy is totally over-the-moon with her Ashley-Rose the Babysitter doll, and Gaga has been literally SLEEPING with the tea-set. It’s crazy. I’ve never seen them go so batshit and stay so loyal to anything they’ve ever been given (save for Diddy’s beloved Puppa, perhaps).
Anyway, I am super proud of myself — and my girls — and so back to that awesome poem my Dad sent me:
My mother writes from Trenton,
a comedian to the bone
but underneath serious
and all heart. “Honey,” she says,
“be a mensch and Mary too,
its no good, to worry, you
are doing the best you can
your Dad and everyone
thinks you turned out very well
as long as you pay your bills
nobody can say a word
you can tell them, to drop dead
so save a dollar it can’t
hurt—remember Frank you went
to highschool with? he still lives
with his wife’s mother, his wife
works while he writes his books and
did he ever sell a one
the four kids run around naked
36, and he’s never had,
you’ll forgive my expression
even a pot to piss in
or a window to throw it,
such a smart boy he couldn’t
read the footprints on the wall
honey you think you know all
the answers you dont, please, try
to put some money away
believe me it wouldn’t hurt
artist schmartist life’s too short
for that kind of, forgive me,
horseshit, I know what you want
better than you, all that counts
is to make a good living
and the best of everything,
as Sholem Aleichem said,
he was a great writer did
you ever read his books dear,
you should make what he makes a year
anyway he says some place
Poverty is no disgrace
but its no honor either
that’s what I say,
by Robert Mezey
from Strong Measures
Harper Collins, 1986
I used to wonder who all those people were on TV shows and in movies who were constantly going into bathrooms and checking out their friends and neighbors’ medicine cabinets. I mean, who does that?
That said, I did do it, once, but I was looking for saline solution after waking up still wearing my contacts (this was before disposable lenses, ladies) following a super-drunk evening spent in the company of the man whose apartment I was waking up in. Luckily for me, we’d both been too wasted for anything to actually HAPPEN between us, as what I found when I opened up that medicine cabinet was a whole lot of pill bottles. We’re talking, I dunno, twenty or thirty pill bottles, all with names of drugs I’d never seen before — not even in my boarding school days of “pass your parents’ pain pills” roulette.
I was 22, and even though my eyes were dry and itchy, it was pretty clear I was staring at the one and only HIV cocktail-assortment I have ever been that close to. The man they belonged to was a lovely guy. I’m pretty sure he still is, thanks to modern miracles, (#iheartscience), and I am also incredibly grateful we both went to bed so drunk we woke up with all of our clothes on.
There but for the grace of god, people.
Anyway, this is a very different kind of medicine cabinet posting. This one is about how to keep track of the meds you give your kids — how much, how often, and to whom. Because seriously, it’s not that easy to keep track of how much Tylenol (ok scratch that, let’s be honest, it’s never Tylenol, they are ALWAYS recalling Tylenol) you are supposed to give your kids. It’s a little easier when you’ve only got one kid, and you’re pretty certain how much she weighs, and you’re pretty sure your ped told you to go with 1.2 cc — but even then, your husband/wife/partner/whomever doesn’t have a clue.
Which will become very clear if you ever send him to do a middle-of-the-night teething-pain-control-dosing and he comes back, turns on all the lights in your bedroom, and asks you where the generic Tylenol is.
Umm, did you actually LOOK for it? In the medicine cabinet? Where our meds live?
Still, leave the poor guy alone, because once you have two kids or more, keeping this shit straight is damned near impossible — which is why I went over to AskDrSears.com (no, I am not telling you to co-sleep until your kid is ten, but the man is chockfull of WAY more useful info, really) and copied his Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, and Diphenhydramine lists into much more handy PDF downloads for you!
Go get them. Then go tape them in your medicine cabinet or wherever else you post this sort of information — AND DON’T FORGET TO ALSO POINT OUT HOW MUCH YOUR KID WEIGHS, so that everyone who needs that info has it.
Here’s how I do it:
1. Those are the cool Dr. Sears Charts I made.
2. They’re posted to the door with Stickr (corners). Love these!
3. I’ve also put up Post-it Super Sticky Full Adhesive Notes with each kid’s current weight, dated by last pediatrics appointment (or the last time I noticed they’d grown significantly per their constant fiddling around with my scale), plus any allergies they’ve got. Here’s a shot of that:
I use these Post-its EVERYWHERE in our house, by the way, and yes, the kids ARE color-coded. More on that to come, promise!
Anyway: this is a pretty great system, if I do say so myself — mostly because I can just show it to anyone who comes to watch the kids really quickly — and because it helps me compensate for my ridiculous Mommy-brain. Seriously: ask me when Gaga’ birthday is. Here’s what I can tell you — it’s either the 26th or the 18th. (God help me when she can read this stuff.)
Oh, and you wanna go see ANOTHER cool medicine cabinet trick? Check this cool thing my pal at SteelMyLunch sent my way:
This is now pinned — along with some other nifty shit — over at my Pinterest boards.
Have you got other medicine tips to share? FB me, Tweet me, or Pin me! I can’t get enough of this stuff, truly — so keep it coming, dear readers, keep it coming.