Nothing New (in succession)

It’s been hard to find myself coming back to post about nothing.  Who can blog and share thoughts about NOTHING? Really, it’s been that way.  When you are buying nothing new, there is a lot less buying.  Period. I have been thinking about and noticing a few things this week, however.

On Monday, our country unified in considering how we feel and from where we have come about diversity.  About non-violence. About freedoms. About perceptions. About accepting differences, in all aspects, of another. I found myself in conversation with my kids over these concepts.  They have ALWAYS had a heart for social justice-type actions, for love in the purest forms.  My daughter found a hero both in Martin Luther King Jr. and, even more so, Rosa Parks. She has been fascinated with them since Kindergarten, has done, “I’m bored today” projects centered around writing and directing a video about both of them. Our eight year old, came home telling me that they watched this video in school that was, “Really creepy, Mom, it was about not letting people go to school because of their skin color! They even hosed them down with fire hoses! It was crazy and scary! I had to look away! Who does that?” He could not fathom why it mattered. Right on, man.  Success number 1.

On certain days of the week, we are blessed to have an extra couple of sweet kids become a part of us. They come in, this three year old and four month old, early in the morning, before anyone else is awake and “do life” with us until dinnertime.  They arrive in their pajama’s (only sometimes), and sit at our table for breakfast. They are anticipated and anxiously awaited upon by all three of my kids. If you know my daughter, you would know that she is not the “motherly” type by nature, yet I have seen it unfold in the way she smiles at and holds the baby, calls it “her” baby, insists on feeding her.  This week, I had to leave the house early and leave my daughter with her brothers. I left them while they were sleeping, knowing I would walk into a frenzy of need later – “Get dressed quick guys before we have to go!” “Give me the brush so I can do your hair!” “The spray bottle!” “Did you eat yet?” “Quick, brush your teeth!” “Don’t forget socks! Quick, we have to go!” HOWEVER, I walked in and they were dressed, fed, completely ready all prompted by HER. I was shocked. Success number 2.

My eight year old son, walked in after school yesterday with a smile on his face.  His first words were, “Hi baby, I love you, you are so sweet.” He was talking to the four month old on the floor, cooing. He did not have his aching, starving stomach on his mind.  He did not rush off to the bathroom.  Instead, he walked over to her, picked her up and sat on the couch asking to have the bottle of breast milk! to feed her.  As he was feeding her, he said, “I wish we could just keep her.” A few minutes later, he was playing with her and smelling her and said, “I can’t wait to get married and have children, we can just KEEP our babies, then!” After this, he became the activities co-ordinator for the two preschoolers in my house, daddy style.  “Get on my back, I’ll give you a horsey ride!” “Set up the chairs, we are going to play…” “C’mon guys! Let’s pretend to have a box of magic, this is how you play…” Sweet, kind, loving. Success number 3.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our actual Nothing New progress. This week we found ourselves in need of some clothing for our older kids, mostly pants. Usually, for them, I would just hop on over to Target for their very plain, cheap, and goes with everything pants. They HATE the thrift store, HATE the clothing, HATE the idea of it. I took them anyway.  As we looked through the rows and rows of pants, I noticed a marked change in their attitudes.  They were smiling and helpful in the process, they had an excitement in buying Nothing New.  We ended up leaving with six pair of jeans from Gap and Levi and a pair of recycled sole Teva’s.  We spent only $33. I am NOT a thrift store shopper, I hate it too, but was excited for the challenge.  My kids don’t care about brands (yet), but we found some quality (at least, over Circo), for so much less. We all found it thrilling to have a bagful of necessity, while not creating a need for more – not taking from a rack that will be refilled with the same exact item. Success numbers 4 and 5.

We did find ourselves buying Something New.  We almost never do this.  We don’t usually have the sentiment or feel the need to buy  “picture packages” offered us by the given teams our children play on.  However, it meant so much to our daughter to have a picture of her current traveling basketball team.  We caved (?) I guess. We bought the package that was both the least amount of stuff and money. Honestly, it didn’t even occur to me that I was “cheating” until later.  Not a success if you look at it from our Year, still a success in our daughters fun and commitment as she is growing.  No loss, no success. I’ll take it.

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Nothing New (locally)

In preparation for our Year, Mr inBetween and I talked very briefly about a couple ground rules we agreed on.  One, was that we were both okay with continuing our lifestyle of supporting local artisans, musicians, actors.  We live in a thriving community of creativity and inspiration, our devotion to supporting these endeavors is something we value greatly.  Somehow, it seems, even if the respective “art” purchased is new, there is something greater in buying and supporting locally.  We, like many of you, gravitate to small business owners, not chains, when we need to get services serviced.  Further, we tend to rely on our community of people surrounding us to give and take, sharing love and dependence on one another, humbly accepting and giving. AS IT SHOULD BE.

Second, we discussed FINALLY getting on the ball soon enough to become a part of a CSA this year.  We have talked about it year after year, and year after year missed the full growing season (I’m taking suggestions from any of your favorites).  I’ve been spotty about shopping our local farmer’s markets as life takes over and I’ve chosen convenience. I visit our co-op only for specific items. Neither is our life conducive to a garden as we travel a lot throughout the summer. I think we are finally ripe (get it?) for something we value. Even if all food and “necessities” can be new, I’m hoping to look a little closer at using the community I’m presently in.

Nothing profound, here, just some thoughts as we continue on…

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Nothing New (for lunch)

Every night after dinner, we clean up the dishes from the table and, in turn, the kitchen. Somewhere in there I (FINALLY!) realized this was the best time to make the lunches for school the next day.  My kids, since they started school six years ago, REFUSE to eat school lunches. My daughter, like a broken record, tells me of how the lunch room smell makes her stomach hurt.  My son assures me the food will make him sick. Listen, six years ago, I WANTED this.  I nurtured it. I controlled it. I have made lunches full of leftovers or the latest “favorite” foods or some “organic pre-packaged” delight.  However, as parenting has evolved naturally and I have let go of controlling a few things (shut up), sometimes I just want them to eat! a school! lunch! FOR THE LOVE! *ahem*  This is exactly what I wanted, good for me, yeah, yeah, I know, I know.

Before this Year started, a mailer arrived from The Container Store that had these adorably perfect reusable sandwich/snack bags. I kept the mailer right next to the french press, knowing I would see it everyday and be reminded I needed to pick them up BEFORE OUR YEAR! I forgot (now THAT’s Nothing New if you know me at all). Tonight, while preparing tomorrow’s lunches, I was sick of filling bag number who knows and remembered what I had forgotten, again. Washing and reusing those little baggies?  Been there, done that, over it. My best solution is a joyride to The Container Store. Alas…

See, I was thinking, “It’s okay if I buy THESE new, because, ultimately, they are reUSABLE and then….” No. “It’s okay if I buy THESE new because I want to reduce my footprint and….” No. “It’s okay if I buy THESE new because it will save us money and Mr. inBetween will love the…” No.  I couldn’t get around it because something like this is what I found.  I already have all the equipment and materials and am excited to try Something New. I’ll just use the baggies until my procrastination runs out.

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Nothing New (in hot water)

Months ago, our hot water heater seemed to be on it’s way out.  Upon entering the shower, one would be doused with steamy streams of hot water that soon turned lukewarm, and quickly, cool.  After fifteen minutes, one couldn’t complain, however, if the water turned lukewarm.  Complaining seemed so First World;  complaining seemed so Entitled,  so anti-Simplicity.  Fifteen minutes of hot-ish water seemed plenty and lavish, almost.  So, we just let it be and quietly took our (quick) business shower. We got the job done and happily turned off the spittle.

As the weeks passed, we discovered (through the wails of our younger children entering the tub) our hot(ish) water was diminishing quickly to nil.  I noticed the dishwasher was leaving a lacquer of uneaten meals.  I noticed the clothes were more stiff from washing machine to dryer.  I sent Mr. inBetween to the dungeon for inspection.  The report? No more pilot light.  Easy fix, you say.  So did we. After weeks of lighting the pilot light no less than three times a day, followed by waiting for 30 minutes of “cooking”, we concluded our hot water heater was living on life support.

This is no big deal in our normal lives, we would visit the local HandyHouse Store and buy ourselves a new hot water heater.  In a Year of Nothing New, we were dragging our feet.  Count it romantic to live a simpler life.  Call it stretching one’s comfort to empathize with those less fortunate.  Whatever.  Maybe we were waiting to do a “cash only” exchange, but something else happened.

We left town. For the weekend, that is. We had a wedding to attend and I drove, an hour away, knowing a warm shower awaited me there. We laughed, we cried, we celebrated life and community and enjoyed a beautiful weekend with warm connections and hot water.  On our way home, in the FREEZING car, we talked of how we needed to “hurry up” and get that pilot light replaced.  We could handle buying THAT new, it seemed, until we found a used water heater…

You know what happened? We drove up to our house. It was 11 p.m. We spotted a huge box on our front step. At first, it kind of startled me. What the heck was delivered to us THAT large? Mr. inBetween said almost immediately, “No way, it’s a new water heater.” While we were an hour away, warmly reveling in our family and our old community, our new one was at home reveling in warming us with a blessing, a gift.

I turned the faucet in the kitchen sink on early, early this morning to put away dishes from the previous night’s dinner and was warmed at the presence of steam in the sink.  My daughter woke up to shower without having to wake dad to “stoke the fires” (and stayed in for a good 20 minutes!), and my dishwasher supplied me with sparkling clean dishes all before 9 a.m.

10 days and counting…still, Nothing New.

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Nothing New (rumspringa)

Many years ago I happened upon a documentary that was about Rumspringa. If you are not familiar I suggest checking it out.  Basically, it is a season of adolesence in which Amish kids are encouraged to live apart from their community and engage in the “world and its rebellious behaviors” free of judgement.  This is a time for them to “sow their wild oats” a “release from their conservative and fundamental rules”.  The purpose is then to help them desire and return all prodigal like, yearning after the life they have known in the community.  Please don’t regard this as a statment against the Amish traditions.  Please don’t educate me about it all.  This is just an illustration that came to mind as I was preparing for this Year, as I’ll explain…

So my Christmas just happened and many of the people in my life who knew we were going to attempt to buy nothing new for a year as a family, suggested I go on a big shopping spree.  Believe me, they didn’t have to suggest it, I THOUGHT it OFTEN.  They suggested I buy a bunch of new things so I wouldn’t need anything.  Yep, thought that too.  While I joked about it a lot, I didn’t do it.  I felt guilty when I informed them of our Year and that if they were getting rid of this or that, think of me. Somehow, I wanted to maintain life as it was.  Part of me thought it was working around the whole point of what Nothing New meant.

Today, as I was driving away from dropping Mr. inBetween off at work, I had a few hours alone.  I knew I had two gift cards in my pocket.  I knew because they were taunting me with their burning and billowing smoke coming from the handmade duct tape wallet where they were tucked.  I knew I could go and buy something New.  I tripped on that thought a couple of times before I turned left out of the parking lot instead of right, toward Shopping Mall.  I knew I could get around the “rules” and that I typically laugh in the face of rules.

Do you see where I am taking you in my thought process?  That there are many ways to rebel and “get around the rules”?  What exaclty are our rules?  I think, as our Year blossoms, they will become clearer.  I think that Mr. inBetween and I will have different rules for different reasons.  I think our motives are different and may change with each situation presented.  I think it will also show that sometimes it is not about a Year of Nothing New, rather something more internal and fiberous.  While I am not typically a rule follower and usually make decisions based on intuition and my gut, I did find myself wanting to succeed within the boundaries my heart was already making.  Purist-like.

Maybe there needs to be room for a Rumspringa in our Year. A time of new, shrink wrapped gadgets, fresh clothing with a tag, followed by grace and a prodigal like return to buying Nothing New, but its not time yet.

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Nothing New (bring it on)

Today, I laughed at my daughter.  I laughed at timing, too.  My daughter, the eleven year old? The one who cares not a stitch about her clothing? Ever? The one who wears t-shirts from my bottom drawer and sweat pants because they are soft? The one who wears a stocking hat most days? The one who I will SPECIFICALLY buy clothing I know is her style yet snubs because, “I don’t like how it feels” or “I don’t need a new shirt” or “it’s nice mom, but…no really, I like it…” JUST so I can see her in something different?? Well, of all days January (what? 6?) 2011, THE YEAR OF NOTHING NEW, is when she decides to get all persnickety and wear something that I picked out and looks adorable on her? Of all days she decides to walk past me in preparation for school and says, “Mom, you need to buy me a bunch of new shirts like this because all the others are *shrugs*, I don’t know, just old.”  I guffawed and said, “It hasn’t even been a week of our Year of Nothing New and you say this?” She just nonchalantly responded, “That’s for you and dad, I can have all the new things I want.” No snark (she’s not really like that), just impeccable timing, no? Oh, universe, you tempt me.  Bring it on. Ha. Ha. Ha.

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Nothing New (on the blog)

I haven’t figured out where to make a special section dedicated to my thoughts and experiences in our “Year of Nothing New”, but I will (maybe).  I think I have decided I will call all those posts “Nothing New”.  This blog, however, is not limited to only that (maybe, again). I think I have decided I will open this up to whoever is interested. To share thoughts, suggestions, encouragements. Some of you are right next to me when I fall asleep at night, some are special in my life and would be a part of this in spite of my desire for some anonymity.  Regardless, a journey ahead, let’s see where it evolves.

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