Update from What I “Read Today”

When the Coronavirus “shelter in place” order came, I felt relief. I battled a rash on my face and watery, itchy eyes for months. I didn’t want to go anywhere.

The rash was a reaction to the Eucalyptus oil in my diffuser. The dermatologist said that I could not use a diffuser, scented candles, or perfume.

The first time I had to “shelter in place” was Labor Day weekend in 2004. The allergy shots didn’t work, even though we started over three times, and my only option was to avoid allergens.

Painting is one way I fill the hours. It was difficult with watery eyes but last year, during several rounds of Prednisone, I painted every room, ceiling, closet, shelf, and started painting furniture!

“Don’t despise the day of small things”

My husband bought some kitchen chairs at a friend’s garage sale last spring. They are black with oak seats. They have gold appliques on the backs and it didn’t fit my style.

We had family over for Easter and I wanted to paint the chairs before then. But there was no time. The most scuffed part of the chairs was the bottom segment of the legs. I painted just those segments. No one noticed but I smiled every time I entered the kitchen.

I painted one section of one chair every chance I could. I finished them on September 1st. I’m glad I didn’t wait until I had time to do them all at once!

“Two streams of golden oil pouring through two gold conduits”

“Where do I post the interest?” asked David.

“In the same line as the IRA,” I replied.

Granted the amount is not a lot! But I learned a secret from “The Richest Man in Babylon” by George S. Clason. You want to invest the interest no matter how small.

If I leave it in my account it will get spent but if I invest it in stocks or bonds it will grow. The goal is to have multiple streams of income when we retire.

“Fully obey the Lord”

Another way I fill the hours is to play the piano. I am in limbo at the moment because I flunked my allergy test. How? I had a build-up of antihistamines in my system. There were no reactions on the prick test. We are waiting for a killing frost and then I will stop meds for two weeks and test again. I am staying inside except for a few hours on Sunday mornings when I play the keyboard for church.

I started playing for services when I was 16. I remember one worship leader asking me to practice for 15 minutes a day. I balked but I just had my second baby in two years and was a bit overwhelmed.

After a hiatus of 8 years, I started playing again. Boy did I practice then! I had to learn 4 new songs a week until I caught up. My new worship leader asked me to memorize the songs. I balked again. I was doing well just learning them.

Finally, I obeyed and started memorizing the music. There is such freedom to play without worrying about losing your place. I watch my fingers, and thanks to daily practice, the muscles remember where to go when my brain is not sure.

There is more to playing for a church service than following the music. You are there to aid in worship and must remember to worship through your fingers.

Last night I practiced an older song. I shut my eyes and sang along. It was me and God. That was when I felt I “fully obeyed the Lord.”

“Turn a pleasant land into desolation”

This is a beautiful time in Iowa. The crops are fully grown. Now we wait for the corn and beans to dry in the fields. Next month harvest will begin. The fields will look desolate without their covering of crops.

It is good to remember when I receive a blessing there will be a time of emptiness. If I continue to plant seeds all along, I will have a harvest that doesn’t end.

“Streets filled with boys and girls playing”

I was pregnant with our first child when we bought this house. The neighbor across the street had an empty nest. She told me she loved watching our children play in the front yard.

She passed away and a few years ago a young couple moved in. Their oldest was learning to ride a bicycle. His dad ran alongside him for a time or two. After the first trip down the street, he switched from holding the bicycle seat to laying his hand on his son’s back. His son knew he was still right there beside him but he was responsible to keep his balance. (That is how God works.)

David and I watched from our couch as they went back and forth a few times. We both jumped up and cheered when he took off on his own. Now I am the one watching the children playing in the streets.

“It may seem impossible”

I still battle the red, watery eyes. The ophthalmologist said it is dry eye. I have to get over it because we are scheduled to visit Israel next spring.

The trip has been postponed four times because of the pandemic. We sacrificed our truck, satellite TV, and several small things to pay for this trip. I trust that God has a plan.

“Don’t be afraid, let your hands be strong”

I refuse to give up on the Israel trip. I made a shadowbox of gifts others brought back from Israel. It’s the first thing I see when I wake up. I will keep hope alive.

“Speak the truth; make true and sound decisions”

My husband and I enjoy playing Spider Solitaire. He plays on the weekends and I play while I eat lunch. Sometimes, I play until I win. Tuesday, was one of those times. I am ashamed to admit that I played for 4 hours.

While I soaked my eyes for the third time, God whispered, “Spider is drying your eyes out.”

When we are looking at a screen, we don’t blink as often as normal. My concentration was such that I barely blinked at all!

I determined to set a timer on my phone and only spend 10 minutes at a time looking at a screen. I used it for Facebook and email, too. Amazingly, I won in 10 minutes yesterday! Today, I lost.

“Love truth and peace”

I told David about my long session and my decision. He will keep me accountable. When I hid my Spider Solitaire addiction, I felt guilt and remorse. Now that I have a plan, I have peace.

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Housebound and Happy – Year 12

104 consecutive days.

That is my record for staying in the house. That is over a quarter of a year!

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My first time working at home I was pregnant with our third child. It did not go well – 5 months of bed rest. Luke was in kindergarten and Laura went to preschool in the afternoon. I worked in bed.

After Derek was born, I continued working at home for 18 months. The summer was especially exciting with a 7-year-old, 4-year-old, and a 9-month-old!

I got up early and worked before they got up. I worked during nap time. David entertained the kids to let me finish up after dinner. We took it one day at a time.

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My first time being housebound was in 2004. Allergies went out of control and I could not take any more Prednisone. I moved the office home for a few months. It happened again in 2005. In 2006, my job description changed. I worked from home until the end of 2007.

At the end of that year, I stepped down. Three months later, the only antihistamine that worked was taken off of the market. I did not leave the house unless I was on Prednisone.

Three years later, my immunity dropped so low that if someone at David’s work caught a cold, I caught it! The doctor had me leave the house a little at a time to build it back up. But I am with only a few people.

On Sunday, I play with a worship band and I am out for four hours. The same group meets at my home for practice. On Wednesday, I play with another band and am in contact with those 6 people.

This is my new normal. I learned many things over the last 12 years – usually the hard way, lol.

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Breathe

Take deep breaths. Do not give in to anxiety. You can do this. It is temporary for you. You may want to make working in your home permanent.

Water

You will have access to food all the time! Sometimes you think you are hungry and you are just dehydrated. Drink 2 glasses when you get up. Drink another after you exercise. Drink a glass every hour on the hour until you reach your goal. My goal is 11 glasses a day.

When you are properly hydrated, you will have extra energy. You will find yourself doing things in the evening instead of watching TV.

Tap Water

At some point in this pandemic, we may run out of bottled water. Be proactive. Pour a glass of tap water. Do you like it cold, room temperature, or over ice? How can you improve the taste? Filter it? Boil it? Infuse it with fruit or herbs? I filter my water and drink it at room temperature.

Exercise

I don’t enjoy exercise. I have to trick myself into doing it. Make it as easy as possible. I wear a sports bra under my pajamas. When I get up, I drink 2 glasses of water and start my stretching routine. I wake up slowly and am fully awake when it’s time to hit the weights or work on my core. You don’t have to wear “exercise clothes” to exercise. Pajamas work fine.

Get Dressed Including Shoes

Get dressed right away and wear comfortable shoes. Your feet need support. You will get cold if you try to work in your pajamas and a housecoat. Slippers do not support your feet. Dress in layers. You can take layers off as the day warms up.

Journal

Get a notebook and write down events during this time. It helps to process the bad stuff by writing it down. Then list 10 things for which you are thankful. Gratitude fights depression. And perform one “Random Act of Kindness.” Write these in your notebook.

Devotions

I don’t turn on my phone until after devotions. I read the good news first. Psalm is a good place to start. It is in the middle of the Bible and talks about God protecting us. You can read the chapters from the shortest to the longest using my “Baby Steps” Bible Reading Guide, or you can follow the 2020 Bible Reading Guide. I write a post about a verse in that guide each day.

Set Meal Times

Make a schedule. If you have little ones, they will need snacks. Adults need 3 square meals a day. Prepare your food and eat at the table. You will overeat if you are in front of the TV, computer, or on your phone. Eat until you are full and stop.

Measure Your Food

My weight kept creeping up even though I ate a salad for lunch. It wasn’t until I measured my food and recorded the calories that it started going down. Our food proportions are super-size! I promise you will get full if you eat the proper portion from each food group. We are seeing shortages and rationing in some foods. Don’t waste your favorites by eating 2 servings at a time.

Breakfast

Sit where you can look out a window. Watch the birds and squirrels. They are carefree. Notice the plants coming to life after a long winter. I am not in a position to eat outside but you can. Eat on the deck or porch. Watch the sun come up.

Make Special Days

At our house, Friday was Malto Meal Day. Tuesday was Oatmeal Day. Change the toppings from week to week to add variety. Pancakes take fewer eggs and milk than waffles or French Toast. But if you have dried bread to use up – make French Toast. Have a cereal day or cinnamon toast day. You can make muffins in several flavors.

Make a Food Inventory

It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just write down what is in the cupboards, freezer, and refrigerator by category. When you get more food, write the date you bought it down. Scratch the item off of the list when you use it. Make menus from the top of the list. Eat older foods first.

Make Menus

Plan for each meal but be flexible. You can eat last night’s leftovers for lunch. Or set a lunch menu. Mine is a Salad, 4 vegetables; Ham Sandwich, 2 Bread, and 1 Meat; Yogurt and Fruit, 1 Dairy and 1 Fruit. My husband likes a sandwich with cottage cheese or Veggies and dip.

Plan easy lunches: Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese; Chicken Noodle Soup and Peanut Butter and Jelly; Ham Sandwich and a Salad; Soup and a Salad; Egg Salad Sandwich and Coleslaw.

Dishes

Do dishes right after each meal. Our dishwasher broke and I am doing them by hand. There is nothing more depressing than a sink full of dirty dishes.

Natural Alarm

I wake up each morning naturally. I stop eating 12-16 hours before I want to wake up. My belly wakes me up!

Don’t Sleep In

Every time I slept in someone would drop by! It’s embarrassing to be caught in your pajamas. Instead, go to bed an hour earlier.

Make Your Bed

Every day. Then no matter how trashed the house becomes, you still have a nice place to return to. And if you accomplish nothing all day, you have proof that one job was finished. An unmade bed is a dusty bed. Dusty beds fill with dust mites and will ruin your sleep.

Limit Social Media and the News

Don’t check it when you first get up. Let your body wake up, feed your body, and your spirit. Then you will be ready to face whatever comes next. Shut off social media by 8 pm. You need a few hours to detox and relax before you sleep. Read a book. Listen to music. Take a bubble bath. Just wind down.

If you don’t, you may be plagued with insomnia. It’s the worst! Everything is out of proportion in the middle of the night. Do not make any decisions then. Drink a glass of warm milk and read a book. Do not turn on the TV, computer, or your phone. The blue light tells your brain to wake up.

Take a Nap

If you have insomnia, take a short nap 15-30 minutes before 3 pm. You will get a second wind to complete the day. Then go to bed earlier.

Sanitize

I sanitize my kitchen and bathrooms every morning. You can make homemade sanitizer or use what you have on hand. There are recipes online. Don’t forget doorknobs, remotes, and keyboards.

Plan and Dream

What projects would you like to tackle? What are your favorite activities? Make time for those activities each week. Have your children make an “I’m Bored” list. Only they can think of things that would not be boring for them!

Fix Something That Bugs You

I have new valances in the living room. They would not stay together. The street light showed through that space. One day I hand sewed them together. Now when I look at the valance, I love it!

Work on Your Skills

Practice the piano. Shoot baskets. Draw. Embroider. Quilt. Do Sudoku or crossword puzzles. Set up a puzzle on a table and leave it out.

Work and Then Stop

Be diligent starting work on time. Be diligent stopping on time. Do not work all the time. Set work hours and keep them. The work will wait until tomorrow. It’s tempting to keep working on a project in the evening but it is counterproductive.

Don’t Multitask

Do not throw a load of laundry in right before you start working. If you can’t wash, dry, and put the load away before work, wait until after. Keep the evening routine that you used before. It is stressful doing more than one thing at a time. Do one thing, do it well and move on.

Study

Learn something new. Or learn more about your chosen field. You want to keep your mind active. The best way is to learn new things.

Start a Lifetime Project

Choose something so big that it will take the rest of your life? Or start working on a huge project. I saved all the tee shirts from my children’s activities. Some of them are signed by their friends. I embroidered each signature. Then I pieced the fronts of the tees together and made a quilt. It took me 2 years to make a quilt for Luke. It took me 10 years to embroider the names on Laura’s tees!

Declutter

Start at the front door and work your way around the room. Do a drawer, shelf, or wall each day. What can I throw away? What can I give away? What can I put away? What can I sell that I no longer need?

Set a timer and work on it for fifteen minutes. Do just one small area. Don’t drag everything out. “Inch by inch life is a cinch. Yard by yard, life can be hard.”

Spring Clean

As you declutter, get rid of dust and cobwebs. Wipe off the shelf. Would this look better if I painted it? Does it need repair? Do I need it or should I pass it along? Once again, do just one small area.

Plan Your TV Viewing

We got rid of satellite TV. The antennas pull in 12 channels. I review what is on each of those channels before I turn on the TV. I chose how much time I will be sitting in front of it. I try to do something else at the same time: embroider, mend, and read emails or scan Facebook on commercials.

Last night we watched TV for 2 hours. That is how long it took to wash a load of towels. Then I shut it off and went to bed.

Go to Bed!

It’s tempting to stay up late but I always regret it. Set a bedtime and stick to it! You will be healthier for it. If you are tired during the day go to bed an hour earlier.

If You Are Sick

Throw this list out!

Stop the world and get off. Let your boss know you are calling in sick. Go to bed with a pitcher of water and fruit. Nap, read, rest, watch TV. That is the best cure for any virus.

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You need a schedule and you need to stick to it. You can find easy routines at flylady.net. She gives tips and encouragement to declutter your house. At the least, write down everything you do. Put it in the order that works best for you. I am a morning person. My routine may not work for you.

This time with your family is precious. Before I knew it, they were living in their own homes and starting families.

Being a grandparent is indescribable. Your baby brings you a baby to cuddle, love on, and spoil. You see your baby in some of their features.

And you know what? The house still needs decluttering and I need to spring clean. I have more things to get rid of and I have been working on it for years! Give your best to your job, cuddle your babies, and make the house take the last place.

Get outside at least once a day for a few minutes. (I cannot do that. I just keep several plants around to clean the air.)

Check on your great-grandparents and elderly neighbors. They lived through the Great Depression. They have seen a lot worse than this. They aren’t worried about the shortage of toilet paper.

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