Just the way I like it.
We Californians have been teased for months about this apparent monster El Niño forming over the Pacific, and while it all sounded very promising, we've been so dry for so long, none of us were really getting our hopes up. But surprise! It's here! With a veritable conveyor belt of storms just waiting off the coast, according to one quoted NOAA meteorologist. And although it will lead to disastrous flooding and mudslides, no doubt, we'll fucking take it. Beggars can't be choosers and all that.
As for us, our new year is off to a mixed start, much like our holidays ended up. The Barbarian is out of town the bulk of this week (and next week...and the week after that...and the week after that), and the poor wee folk are sick...again. They do this back-to-back virus thing a lot, it seems. I always anticipate a secondary infection in the first one to come down with a fever so soon after being sick, but within a couple of days, the other is inevitably also running a fever and so we just assume it's yet another random virus. Yay, winter. I was so impressed shortly after we moved into the new house last May that they seemed to be so healthy for so long, then promptly realized the healthy spell was probably due to it being the summer months. Not surprisingly, then, as soon as the season began to turn, we were back to it. Oh, well. Immune systems of steel, right?
But we disassembled Yulemas (my preferred term for our blend of Solstice/Yule and Christmas) on the 2nd of January and that was huge for us. I normally wait weeks and weeks until the tree is brown and beyond pathetic and I'm fresh out of energy to even properly pack it all away. More than once, I've been tempted to just tip it over a huge box and shake. Maybe next year. For this year, we still have a few random strands of lights here and there (that I'm actually contemplating keeping in various places, as my cousin and sister always have twinkly lights decorating their houses year-round and I kind of like the effect--and am letting go of the misplaced idea that they're not my style, dammit) and a few things the wee folk had secreted away to various places and so were neglected in the main sweep. They'll probably stay out till next time, too. Not because I'd like to make them part of my year-round style, of course, but because this is me. Who knows, though. New year and all, eh? And the wee folk reeled in quite the haul this time, including some larger family heirloom pieces we were fortunate enough to be gifted, so in addition to the holidays being packed away, their room and the family room were cleaned, rearranged, and organized, and everything found a home. I can't tell you how good it feels to begin the year like this. Remind me I said this next January, would you?
Speaking of the new year, The Barbarian and I haven't technically made resolutions, per se, but we are starting the year with a dry January, meaning zero alcohol for the entirety of the month. We've done famously so far and I am very proud of us, especially The Barbarian, as it's much harder to stay sober when one's job is to schmooze. However, it's not like being housebound with sick children sans spouse makes it easy to stay sober either, so, you know. We're both winning. And honestly, it's not been that challenging, really. My poor system is beyond fucked from my laissez-faire attitude towards eating over the past month or two and it is begging for a break. So along with a dry month, I am back on the elimination phase of the low-FODMAP diet recommended for those suffering from IBS. The idea is that those with IBS can't properly digest certain starches and sugars, so they stay in the digestive track and ferment and become extra food for our gut microbes, whose colonies grow out of control, causing gas and bloating and pain and funky craps and all the rest of it. I did this over the summer last year and it made an enormous difference, but when it came to adding things back in one at a time to see what's really causing my issues, I got lazy and added some back in together and therefore don't have a super clear picture of which foods precisely can be labeled as culprits. I know gluten is okay and lactose and artificial sweeteners are not. I'm fairly certain beans and legumes are okay and onions and garlic are not, but again, this is where things got a bit muddled. So, I won't sadden you with a list of all the things I am currently not eating, but for those interested, you can read more about it here.
My therapist and I chatted this week about the new year and changes and all that, and when I told him I hadn't really set any resolutions, per se, he suggested, if I wanted, just finding one or two things that are important to me and will have a noticeable impact. It made me realize I had essentially already done that by deciding that I would write every day (which I have), and by also deciding I really like a clean(ish) house. The whole idea of your environment affecting your thoughts and emotions is so, so spot on for me, and I've been doing a bit better about keeping up with things the past few weeks and realize how much better it makes me feel. Just coming out of the bathroom after a shower and seeing a clean bedroom floor is huge (we'll get to making the bed daily one...day). It's so refreshing and motivating. And I remember once reading a mom's number one cleaning tip that blew my mind a bit and has totally stuck with me (not that I've put it into practice, of course, but at least it's in there somewhere). The tip was so simple--clean it right away. BOOM. Do you know what happens to Rice Krippies (my children's pronunciation) when they're left to dry, sticking to the side of a bowl? They essentially become cement and no tool known to man can pry or scrub them off (seriously, out of glue? Mash some Krippies with milk and craft away!). But do you know what happens when you rinse the bowl right away? THEY SLIDE RIGHT FUCKING OFF. Insanity, right? The wee folk are getting involved as well, remembering to bring their dishes to the sink after they eat and putting their dirty clothes in the hamper when they change (you know, like from last night's jams to tonight's jams before bed). And having a puppy (did I mention we have a puppy?) has been a huge motivating factor for keeping toys up off the floor because, you know, chewing.
Is my house perfectly clean? Fuck no. And it never will be, I'm sure. It's just not who we are. But there is certainly something to be said for some daily maintenance to preempt the paralyzing feeling that comes with being completely overwhelmed by housework. I literally don't know where to start when it gets bad and end up just...not. So, you know, fuck that. And model good habits for our children in the process? We'll take it.
So there you have it. A post for the new year because new year.
Hopefully it's not the only one.