Our Noble Pursuits

Living the good life. And writing about it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wants and Needs

I’ve been finding myself thinking a lot lately about the differences between wants and needs.  It's sort of been the recurring theme in various places I have been and conversations I have had or listened to.  Confession time for a second – I sometimes confuse the two in my head.  I think many of us do in one way or the other.  And it seems the confusion, at least for me, is isolated to one specific facet of my life.  For instance, I understand the difference between needing food - needing to be nourished, needing it for energy, needing it to sustain me physically – and wanting a certain meal from a certain place.  I get that, and I never have a problem seeing the difference between my need to eat something to satisfy my hunger and my desire for that something to be a nice meal in a cozy restaurant enjoyed with my husband or my friends.  The same is true of many other pieces of my life – I know the difference between what David, Annie, and I truly need as a family and what I just want us to have.  What’s the hang up, you ask?  What’s that facet of life that leaves me not so good at discerning the difference?   Take a guess…

Yep, my house.  That’s my Achilles heel when it comes to being a pro at knowing the difference between my needs and my wants.  While on an intellectual level I understand that all I really need is a warm place to sleep at night, a roof over my head, and the size, quality, and cabinet space (ha!) of that place are of no real importance, I have been having a really hard time convincing myself of that lately.  You see, I’m sort of a Negative Nelly when it comes to our house, and I have been for some time now.  Don’t get me wrong, it is a wonderful house…I mean that, I’m not just saying that in case someone reading this may want to buy it one day.  It’s just a small, one-bathroom, strangely arranged kitchen kind of house.  And I sometimes have a hard time identifying my wants in that house instead of my needs.

In my head, I convince myself that I need a second bathroom.  I need a third bedroom.  I need a kitchen with enough counter space for David and I to both be able to fix our breakfast in the morning without running into each other and enough cabinet space for us to store all of our dishes and serving bowls in one place instead of in three or four mismatched cabinet pieces.  Then I get really out of whack and start thinking that we need a playroom for Annie.  And it needs to be within eyesight of the kitchen so I can watch her play while I make four-course meals that I serve at the table of the eat in kitchen that we, quite undeniably, need.  And I think we need an area in our kitchen where Annie can sit in a year or so and help me bake cookies and fix dinner using the stainless steel appliances that we obviously need, all within sight of the beautiful tiled backsplash I need for my husband to put in our shiny, spotless kitchen, like the ones his clients have thanks to his talent and handiwork.  Oh, and let’s not forget how we need a driveway that is big enough for my car and David’s truck to sit side-by-side. And we need a front walk that isn’t cracked and bumpy.  And we need a front porch floor that doesn’t resist paint like nobody’s business.  And we need…well, you get my point.

But I’m turning over a new leaf here, and I’m starting to see how trivial that list of needs is.  What I have thus far honestly thought of as deficiencies in our home – things that are lacking, and things that we need – are really just my wants.  And as you can see, I want a lot.  And I’m trying to get better.  Every time I roll my eyes at the size of our bathroom, I am trying to replace that thought with one of the many many positive aspects of our home.  Aspects like our sweeping front porch that is was the perfect place for our daughter to be rocked to sleep in the first weeks of her life.  Or the warm and cozy bedroom where Annie has slept almost every night of her life, safe and secure.  Or the closets my husband built with his own two hands when it became clear that the tiny doorways of 1920s closets were not enough for our twenty-first century assortment of clothes.  Or the deck where we have entertained friends and celebrated many of special occasion, including our daughter’s first birthday.  Or the neighborhood where we have spent time with some of our dearest friends and where Annie has played with children we hope will be her friends for life.

While I’m not saying I want to stay in this house forever, and I am still very much hoping we find the perfect buyer for it in the next few months, I am saying that I have everything I really need in our little bungalow…and then some.
A new favorite past time: buckling buckles.

"Hiding" from Daddy.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

19 Months!

I used to keep a list on my phone of the new things Annie did each month.  That way, when it came time for me to put together this monthly post, I would have everything right there, already jotted down, and my memory wouldn't have to do much work.  Somewhere along the way I stopped keeping those lists.  I think it was because her big physical accomplishments - rolling over, crawling, walking, climbing, etc. - were for the most part behind her and the changes I saw each month were more subtle.  And at some point I realized that if I truly kept track of every new thing she did each month - each new word, each new mannerism, each new display of independence and individuality - I would be taking notes all the time.  Because things, they change quickly around these parts.

I say all that to say that these monthly posts have likely gotten to be a little bit more general than they used to be.  Of that much I am aware.  But I hope they remain enjoyable for you to read, because I still very much like writing them.  Even if I can't remember what has happened in 30 or so days' time.

Annie and her good buddy Elmo, preparing for nap time.
In her 19th month, Annie continued to grow her vocabulary. She started using small two-word sentences, as well as expanded her bank of words she regularly uses. As I mentioned in my last post, "Annie do!" is a new favorite, but phrases like "Mommy help" are also working their way into the rotation.  She also likes to go around the room and point out the same feature on all of us - "Annie socks," "Mommy socks," and "Daddy socks" are identified regularly, as are our shoes, coats, eyes, noses, and various other things.  She likes to know where our pets are at all times and, if she looks around and can't find one of the cats she plaintively asks, "Dup-pee?" (for Sophie).  She also likes to mimic what we say.  These days, when I ask her in that way that parents have a tendancy to do, "Can you say fill in the blank?"  she actually can do it and usually does.

We have also ventured into the wonderful world of the potty over the last couple of weeks.  As I mentioned in my 18 month post, our pediatrician suggested that now was a good time to start introducing the concept of potty training, so we have purchased a little potty seat and sit Annie on it a couple of times each day.  So far, we have only had one triumph in that area, but Annie is certainly enjoying the practice.  And she has the concepts of toilet paper and flushing down pat.  I feel I should clarify that we are in no rush whatsoever in this regard, we are just sort of letting Annie get the lay of the land so she will be good and ready in the next six months to a year to try out diaper-free living.
Still rocking the sweet cheeks!
Around here, baby dolls have just recently become a favorite of Annie's.  She wraps her "bay-beez" and Elmo up in blankets and throws them - and I do mean throw, not place gently (her mothering is still a work in progress) - in her shopping cart.  She also loves books.  And, although you have to be a speed reader most of the time to actually read a full page before she turns to the next one, it's great to see her growing appreciation of something that I have always enjoyed so much - reading.  And, true to her heritage, this girl also loves songs.  I will say a word (duck, star, happy, train) and this will immediately prompt her to start doing hand motions to some song or another.  The only problem is that frequently I don't know the song just based on her toddler version of the motions, so I have resorted to getting a weekly tutorial from her teacher as to what they are singing these days so I can keep up with Annie and avoid the dreaded "Mom, are you crazy?  I'm trying to sing something here and you aren't playing along" look.

The bigger she gets, the more I treasure the moments when Annie places her head on my shoulder or reaches for my hand.  She is a busy girl and this momma would like to slow down time some moments to really savor the sweet things she does and says.  When she pats the chair next to her for either me or David to sit down, we do our best to accomodate because we know it's a privilege to share these days, months, and years with her.  And also because we sort of have a soft spot for the smile it puts on her face when we do as she requests.
Saying "cheese!" (quite literally)
Getting "Annie's wa-wa" at school - a daily ritual.

So there's our little Month 19 update - and I think I may have even managed to make it pretty detailed, despite my lack of a list.  I'm going to try to pay more attention to this little blog this month, and maybe even diversify a little by talking about a couple of things that are only tangentially related to Annie.  So check back in and see if I make good on that promise.