Friday, April 24, 2009

Collector or Packrat?

And this is only the tip of the iceburg
Do you still have your children’s kindergarten journals?
Do you have the dress or outfit you wore when you got engaged?
Do you have any text books from your high school or college days?
Do you own a twenty-one year old car that you seldom drive?
Do you have over one hundred souvenir key chains?

My answer to all these questions is yes.

Some of you are cringing already. You’re having an anxiety attack at the thought of having clutter in your home. Others are thinking that it is perfectly reasonable to have some or all of those items...okay, maybe not.

My husband and I were “older” when we married and had well established lives. He had stuff; I had stuff. We added three children to the equation, and now we all have stuff - too much stuff!

My mother visited recently, and as usual, got out the dust cloth to help with the much appreciated cleaning. As she moved from room to room, attempting to dust each dresser or desk surface, the look on her face became more and more bewildered, until she couldn’t stand it any longer. “I would dust your desk, but I don’t want to move any of your things.”

After a few more comments, she moved to Hayley’s room to see the mountain of stuffed animals stacked up in the corner. I laughed when I saw her reaction. I think she thought the animals were going to get up and attack her.

You’re probably thinking my home is a mess. Ironically, I get compliments on how organized it is. (Are they just being nice to hide the shock?) Of course, I have shelves and containers galore!

Truthfully, I would like to have less stuff. I give away lots of stuff, but when Christmas, vacations, birthdays, household projects, school projects, etc. come along, the stuff grows again.

There is a difference between things that give you joy and things that are useless. I’m working on getting those useless things out. Check on me sometimes to see how I'm doing.

A few of my current collectibles:
I buy a key chain at every museum, airport, historic building, and attraction I go to. My husband gives them to me as gifts when he travels, and just a week ago, Kelly bought me one while on her school field trip!

The classics…I’ve been collecting since the 80s. I’ve read a few, but will never read them all. Still, I enjoy looking at the leather-bound books accented with gold, and browsing through the pages. Maybe the kids will read them.

The kids and I collect postcards. We ask family and friends to send them to us from anywhere! The postcards come from our home state to as far away as other continents.

Anita and Family
P.O. Box 1853
Mechanicsville, VA 23116

hint, hint :-)

What do you collect?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Layla adorned by my kids in birthday tiara

What’s this? Scroll to the bottom to find out.

OUR recliner, OUR afghan, HER resting place

Our newest family member is Layla. On April 6, our Schnoodle (half Schnauzer, half Poodle) turned one year old. We were away during spring break, but my friend Robin, and her family, had Layla as a guest in their home. Layla celebrated her birthday with them and their sibling Shih Tzus, Miley and Chester.

The little darling is my girls’ first pet. They had been asking for a dog for at least three years; especially Mallory, who was five years old, when the begging, bargaining, and negotiations began.

As I was growing up, my family had three dogs, a cat, a bird, and an aquarium full of fish – not all at the same time though!

Each stint and attempt at being a loving pet owner lasted a short period of time, except for the cat, Amy, who reigned in my parents’ home fourteen years. The dogs mainly lived in our fenced backyard and I never bonded with any of them. The bird was colorful and pretty and…well, can you play with a bird? Same for the fish – we had a huge tank full of beautiful fish that were fun to stare at occasionally, but when the maintenance proved to be more than my stepfather wanted to handle, that hobby fell by the wayside, too. To his credit, he started with a ten gallon tank, later traded in for two twenty gallon tanks, then traded in for a fifty gallon tank, all over a couple of years or so. Lots of fish came and went.

I say all of this to say that I was not craving a pet, which meant to me, another living creature to take care of.

What changed? The kids wore me down. I’m kidding.

Actually, I live in a large neighborhood where it seems that half of the houses have a dog or two living in it. I was able to “study” my friends and neighbors to get a vision of having a dog. Beth had two dogs (now three). Kim had gotten a new Shih Tzu and Robin had gotten her new puppies. Also, my last child had left babydom; she was in second grade. I thought, “Maybe I can handle a new baby now.”

While I was “studying,” my girls were salivating. “WHEN ARE WE GETTING A DOG!”

On June 11, 2008, we picked up Layla from the breeder. And yes, I “very much” have another creature to take care of, but she’s worth it. The potty training, the carpet cleaning, feeding, and the walks have not taken me over the edge; and my husband and the children are taking their turns at helping.

Layla is playful and affectionate and all of us spend time cuddling the scruffy little hairball. My husband and I made a good decision – our girls are growing up knowing what it’s like to love a pet, which seems as intense as loving a person.

What kinds of pets do you have at your home, and what are their names?

p.s. Like the Obamas, I was ok with a shelter dog, but we have allergic people in our household too. I take allergy shots and my kids sneeze like crazy during this time of year, so…they got Bo-bama, we got Layla – hypoallergenic dogs.
Answer to the question and picture above - It WAS my Invisalign retainer. Guess who chewed it up. I won't tell you what it cost to replace it, but when I wrote the check...OUCH!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Happy Easter! Enjoy Spring Break!

Spending time with my to you again after Easter.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

You Go Girl!

Getting my H2O as Mom approaches from the left

The "Congratulations!" kiss from Mom

Well…I did it. I ran the 10k!

The event was the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k. I was lured into doing it by my friend Teri, who ran last year for the first time. While she was training, I was impressed and fascinated with her dedication. When she asked me to consider doing it, I said, “maybe next year.” That’s the standard response that most people give. But throughout the year, I’d see her continuing with the sport, running through the neighborhoods, for distances that were hard to imagine myself doing.

Another influential person was my stepfather. EJ has been running marathons, half marathons, 10 mile races, 10k races, etc., for thirty years or more. I was around to cheer him on back in the ‘80s, but it was not until this year that I decided to follow in his footsteps. (Don’t think I’ll be running any marathons though!)

This 10k and the training were the longest distances I’ve ever run in my life! The most I’ve done, nonstop, is probably less than two miles. In particular, after having each of my three children, and realizing that there is a difference between excess fluid and fat, I would hit the sidewalks of my neighborhood – walking and jogging, walking and jogging. The motivation was clearly, weight loss.

Back to Teri: She shows up in 2009 and asks, “Are you running the 10k? There’s a training team starting up.” Before I could hem and haw, I quickly said, “yes,” which really meant that I would go to the training, once, to see if I felt the desire.

I must have felt it, because every Saturday for nine weeks, I met others at the local YMCA to run, and I did fairly well sticking to the training throughout the week. By week number nine, I was ready.

On the 10k day, my mom, who had come from out of town, my husband, my children and I headed downtown so that I could DO it! And I DID a whopping one hour and twenty-five minutes!

Will I do it again? Probably. Why? Because as I crossed the finish line, a competitiveness popped into my spirit.

During the run, I had no desire for a certain time. As I was jogging along, I was actually looking at all the bands and cheerleaders and people shaking cow bells, and a group of beautifully dressed Chinese people doing tai chi. I did not push myself; I just wanted to stay calm and finish.

Later at home, I checked my chip time on the computer. Then I started checking all my friends’ times. Teri ran it in 58 minutes. There were three or four others that came in just over an hour. “Can I do better?” I thought. “If I had not started out in the midst of the walkers, and not have been sightseeing, would that have made a difference?” I’m fifty-one and my friends are still in their early to mid forties. Can the old girl’s stamina be increased?

All in all, it was a good experience. My family proudly watched as I crossed the finish line. I had no aches and pains. Many close friends congratulated me on finishing. It’s another page for my “Now I get it” category – another personal enjoyment that I’ve allowed myself to have.

Any challenges accomplished in your recent past, or that you hope to accomplish sometime soon? It can be as simple as breaking a habit or as extreme as skydiving.