Stuffsoup – a little blog with a lot of "stuff"


Forward, charge

Posted in pop psych by stuffsoup on February 17, 2011

A year ago or so, I met the keynote speaker at a Parent Fair in the town where I live. She is a life coach and motivational speaker. When I spoke with her after her talk, there was something that she ended up asking me that has never let me be… “What are your chargers?”

“Chargers”, she explained, were things that charge you up… you know, make you happy or content or energized. They could be as simple as a warm cup of coffee (not a charger of mine, though it could be for some) or as complicated as a walk on the beach (now we’re talking! though definitely complicated if you live in Minnesota and it’s February). When she asked, I had no response for her which was a bit disturbing… had I really forgotten what charges me?

Well, last week I was certainly reminded of a few “chargers”. I was invited to the Alexander Ramsey House in St. Paul to offer my opinion as a research panelist. I was paid for my time and even treated to dinner. I hardly know where to start, there were so many chargers… It feels great to be paid well for my time, it feels great to be asked for my opinion, I love brainstorming, I love to meet new people, I love new experiences (I hadn’t been to the Alexander Ramsey House before), I love being a part of something fun.

Apparently, I wasn’t alone in thinking this was great fun. One of the other participants said to me conspiratorially, “Can you believe they are paying us for this?” I smiled and agreed that it was pretty great. There were about 10 of us ranging from a young gal who said her hobby was “partying” to an older, retired gentleman who discussed his favorite hobby, “historical research”. I guess I was considered part of a demographic somewhere between them.

Another charger from that event is along the lines of trying new things, I love trying new food and the food certainly did not disappoint. They catered it in from Forepaugh’s Restaurant which is right across the street. Just listening to Chef Don Gonzalez describe what he had prepared was a culinary treat, but eating it… well, all I can say is really more of an exhale (or a chant)… mmmm.

I look forward to going back as this is a 2-part research. They are taking our suggestions and refining them to see what might work. Then, they plan to get more feedback from us. So, watch for new offerings at the Alexander Ramsey House which is, on its own, a pretty cool historical place, by the way.

And, think about the things that charge you? Have you done any of them recently?

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Cold toes, warm heart

Posted in Down syndrome,parenting by stuffsoup on February 10, 2011

My daughter has taken to climbing into bed with me between 5:00 – 5:30 in the morning. There are just a couple of things that make this less than optimal for me. First, I am not a morning person and second, my daughter is not always the easiest person to share a bed with so usually there will be no more sleep for me once she is in the “big bed”.

The other morning, she climbed in and cuddled up like she often does. This time, she pulled my hand up underneath her chin like she was pulling up her blanket, so the palm of my hand rested on the soft, warm skin at the collar of her button-down pajama shirt. Suddenly, she felt small again.

She was small as a baby; born prematurely, as babies with Down syndrome are at greater risk to do. I used to “measure” her with my hand back then and nearly everything on her was smaller than my hand.

That morning in bed, her chest felt as small as my flattened hand. It got me thinking about her heart. That little defect she still has and the one she finally outgrew. [Nearly half of babies with Down syndrome are born with heart defects.] I even thought of the newly famous kid in the Super Bowl commercial who played Darth Vader. He has bigger heart issues than most of the kids I know with Down syndrome.

I felt glad that we were not lying in a hospital bed together, which we have done for other issues. I was glad that we had never had to go through open heart surgery as others had. I was grateful for how soft and warm and cuddly she felt and how sweet the moment was.

Then, she kicked me with her cold, little toes as she rolled over in her sleep. 😉

Thank you for bein’ a friend

Posted in pop psych by stuffsoup on February 5, 2011

Multiple times within the last week, people have thanked me for saying hello to them. Sometimes it takes multiple occurrences for me to notice something, but this seemed striking and interesting to me from the beginning.

Are we so lost in our own worlds with mp3 players, cell phones, or even just the thoughts or worries in our heads that we would actually thank someone for pulling us back for just a moment? Or, is it, as a friend of mine confessed, that we don’t acknowledge each other because our hair or our clothes or our weight just isn’t right that day and that ends up making us feel isolated and it is a relief if someone reaches out first?

My facebook phrase (whatever that means exactly) is one that’s origin I don’t remember, but still feels true to me… “Strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet.” So, no matter your hair or clothes or weight or whatever, sometimes the nicest thing you can do is just say hi. Someone may actually thank you for it and you might feel great for having made a nice connection too.

I like to read

Posted in parenting by stuffsoup on February 1, 2011

Just in time for I-like-to-read month, my son suggested that we should read one hundred books. One hundred is a favorite number of his right now and he uses it basically to mean a lot. What he was trying to do at the time was delay bedtime, but what he actually did was inspired me to keep track of the books we read, at least for awhile.

At first I thought we could do a summer reading list of 100 books, but then when I saw the note from my daughter’s teacher saying that February is I-like-to-read month, that decided it. We’d read 100 books in February.

I got out a container to fill with 100 coins and labeled it “100 books” and I got out a sheet of paper since I thought it might be fun to keep track of the titles too. And so it began this morning, even before I told my kids about it. We read 3 books before we even came down the stairs. More were requested, but I was hungry for breakfast and our bodies need food too.

The kids saw the container on the counter and we put in 3 coins and listed the books we read; Who’s Behind the Door? At the Zoo by Michael Salmon, My Little Pony The Thanksgiving Gift by Meg Haston (which had been selected by my son at a book fair last week to give to his sister because he thought she would “love it” — who could say no to that!), and Fancy Nancy Explorer Extraordinaire! by Jane O’Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser (picked out by me at said book fair; our first Fancy Nancy book, which is quickly becoming one of my favorites because of the fun and fancy vocabulary).

Speaking of the book fair, it was a huge hit. It was put on by my daughter’s school in conjunction with their Winter Festival/huge party. They charged 50 cents or a dollar per book and all proceeds went to charity. I also picked up a couple of games including one called Zingo which my son has played or wanted to play at least “one hundred” times a day since we got it. Totally worth it. I thank whoever donated the books and games to the school.

And so, we shall continue our month of (at least) one hundred books. I think something fun might be done at the end of the month with the coins we collect in our 100-books container. I guess we’ll end up with somewhere between $1 and $25. Maybe a library book sale is coming up. Anyway, will you join us in showing how you like to read too?