Friday, October 24, 2008

Confessions of a Hoarder

I've always been a little obsessive compulsive. I knew it was weird when I was a kid and I used to have a digital clock and I had to keep track of how many minutes I watch turn over each day and how many hours I watched change. I also used to write down the weather temperatures each night from the evening news. I wasn't especially tidy until I got in my 20's. When my Mom used to visit me, she used to clean and that, for some reason bothered me. Now I wish she would come and clean my house. I had too much pride to appreciate it when I was younger and just getting started with my first apartment and eventually a house. Now my friends call me "anal" and all say how clean my house is. I don't think it is as clean as I would like it to be, which probably is another indicator I have a problem.

Growing up, we always had enough. Aside from the time when we left the Bay Area and moved to the property in Garden Valley and Leo was unemployed for a while, I don't remember us ever being really poor. My step-dad was a sheet metal worker and frequently was laid off or worked less hours in the winter months. I remember my Mom always shopping and stocking up when he was working to help tide is into the non-working months. I say this is how it got started.

As I've gotten older and had more money, I find that I am still "stocking up" but so far there has only been 1 time in my life when I've needed to use this supply. Needless to say, I have much more than I can possibly use in a reasonable amount of time of lots of things. Living in Idaho where the LDS population is quite large, I find myself saying that I'm just doing "food storage" or collection for an emergency, but really, I just buy too much. I seem to not feel safe if I don't have a good supply of something and then a backup supply. Before I even run out of something, I add it to my list and frequently there is a new supply before I even run out. It is rare that we run out of something in my house.

When I first moved in with Dave and his boys, I tried to monitor the supply on what everyone used. This was crazy. I couldn't possibly keep up with 5 people's consumption and the teenagers ever changing tastes. So, as of 2 years ago, I adopted the policy of - if you use the last of something, either 1) notify me 2) leave the package out or 3) write on the list (fridge). This has worked quite well for everyone and we still rarely run out of anything. And I stress a lot less.

But here's where it gets weird. I have sooo much shampoo. I do wash my hair every day and I do have thick hair, but I must have years and years worth of shampoo. Why? I do remember when I moved out on my own that someone told me it was good to rotate the shampoo you use on your hair. So I had 3 or 4 kinds in the shower and rotated using them. Now I live in a home where the shower is a phone booth, so there is certainly not room for a selection. So all the shampoos and conditioners sit on the large garden tub, daunting me. I think I've been trying to "use up" what I have for almost 3 years. I also collect hotel soaps and shampoos. Why? I don't take them with me on trips because I'll be at another hotel that has more or staying at someone's house that has shampoo (I like to try other's people stuff!) so I never use them. I've recently started using the little soaps in place of my more favored body wash (which I also have a ton of) and still have a huge pile of soaps. I did manage to use up a lot of the little shampoo containers but then feel bad about throwing away all the plastic bottles.

I also have waaaayyy to much scrapbooking stuff (see above pic), linens (not really my fault, because we have all mine AND Dave's), tupperware (see previous reason), clothes, shoes, earrings, razors, toothpaste, mouthwash, etc.

I do think it's a good idea to have stuff stocked up, especially food. You never know when a natural disaster, illness or a lay off can happen and you'll be glad you have lots of things already paid for in your home. But I do think I need to question almost every purchase I make and be sure I need it and have a place to store it. I love having lots of stuff, but I also hate the feeling of clutter and overwhelming amounts of stuff. It's all about moderation, right?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Pepper and Chloe - Our Girls

When Dave and I met in 2001, I thought we might have a child together. I had Aaron, who was then 6 and he had 2 more boys, then 10 & 14. We quickly decided that the 3 boys were going to be plenty for us! So, in 2004 we got our first baby girl, Pepper. We "met" her when she was 4 weeks old at a local Havanese breeder. She was the last one available in the litter and we immediately put down a deposit on her. I went to visit her every day and she was just a joy. I had bought a stuffed dog toy a few months prior and that became her "baby" which we put in with all the puppies and her mama so she could always have a piece of her family. When she was 6 weeks old (and still nursing!) her little collar was still too big for her and I begged the breeder to let her stay a few more weeks but he insisted she would be fine. So, excited beyond description I headed there with her baby and my cool dog carrying bag. I put her in the bag and put her on the front passenger seat and she promptly cried her little head off. I then unzipped the top of bag and she stood up and snorted like a little pig. It was so sad, she was missing her family. I tried to comfort her, but she just wailed. By the time we got home, she totally sacked out and took a big nap in the middle of her blanket. The first night, I put her in her crate beside my bed and spent most of the night with my hand through the wire door. She did very good and only cried when she needed to go out. I hung a small bell by the back door and each time I took her out, I hit it with her paw. Within a week, she was hitting it herself to go out and to this day still uses that as her signal to go out. After a few nights, Dave said she should be able to sleep on the bed with us. And today, she still does.

When Pepper was 2, she was kind of apathetic and didn't really do much and I really wondered if she was lonely. She also had almost no interest in eating and only ate her kibble every 3-4 days. Around the same time, I became involved with an online Havanese Rescue Yahoo Group. I had signed up to be a rescue contact in Idaho since there were none and so did another lady that had Havanese. Soon, I did a home visit for a third woman who had signed up and then I needed my home visit done. Heather was the one assigned to do that and we quickly became friends. It turned out she had Peppers sister from a different little and another Havanese as well as a German Shephard. She was heading to Bend, Oregon the next week to get a 3rd Havanese from Hystyle Havanese and let me know there was another puppy available in the litter. She also raw fed her dogs, something I had been looking into due to Pepper's lack of luster for her kibble.

Well, Dave and I decided we had to have this little cream Havanese, then named Q-T-Pie. Heather went and got her and her own Tootsie Pop 2 weeks later. By now, Aaron was 11 and very much wanted to be friends with Pepper, but their relationship had started off a big rocky because Aaron was too rough with her when she was little. And Pepper was never really a cuddler, or lap dog. She would sit by you, but not on you and didn't enjoy being held. From the moment Chloe came, Aaron held her and carried her around like a baby, which she still enjoys today. Pepper immediately shared her toys, her bed and her Mom and Dad like the good dog she has always been. Chloe came from a breeder who raw fed, so I switched Pepper and Chloe has never had kibble. Both my dogs LOVE to eat every day and their coats and skin are wonderful and I believe they are very healthy. Each day I feed them a raw chicken wing, a 1/4 of a sirloin patty (from Costco), some rehydrated veggies and Nupro powder. I also give them organ meat and occasionally some rice.

Like all Havanese, they like to shred and play "run like hell", espeically in the snow. They go most places with us and if they can't go, they stay with Auntie Heather and their sisters. Pepper and Chloe have brought immense joy to our blended family. To them we are Mom and Dad and all the boys are their brothers. They bridge the gap of "theirs" and "ours" and love everyone the same. Yes, having dogs are a lot of work, they require time, love, attention, money, feeding, walking, grooming, brushing and a huge commitment, but they are worth every bit of effort.

The dogs also have thier own website