Shaking up routines

Hosting guests in our home always shakes up our routines a bit. For us, this is a good thing. We get set in our ways when it is just the two of us living in a home that has room for many more. We can be lazy about organization because we have the luxury of room. When guests come, we need to pick up our projects and put things away. When our guests are family, they always pitch in with chores, but sometimes they have no idea about our routines. Items may be put away in different cupboards. New foods may appear in the refrigerator. Every once in a while a family member will organize a cupboard or sort out items. Once, a few years ago, my sister was visiting and decided to organize our spice cupboard. She carefully sorted savory from sweet and assigned new places to the spices. At first, I was confused. It seemed that I was unsure of where to look for anything. After all, some spices can be considered both savory and sweet. Cinnamon is used in lots of sweet treats, but it is also used as a savory spice in Indian dishes and in Cincinnati Chili. After several months, the new organization system sort of shifted back to the old one. In the meantime, we discovered spices that we had forgotten we had. For some reason we have ended up with two sets of silverware. When there are just two of us, we rarely use items from one set, but when we have guests, all of the silverware is used and the two sets become mixed. Another example of the impact of guests on our cupboards is coffee mugs. When all of our coffee mugs are put away, they are in several different places. We only use a few until we have guests. When we get them all out, they congregate in a single cupboard that doesn’t have room for all of them. The coffee mugs start to displace glasses on the shelf below. As problems go, this is so small that we simply don’t bother to do much about it until we go back to our usual.

Another thing that can disrupt routines is having children visit. We are an empty nest household these days but our home still has plenty of room and plenty of resources for children. We have a wonderful collection of toys and books for children. When our three oldest grandchildren visited this summer we transformed our basement family room into a play area for them. We got out toys that hadn’t been played with since our children were little. There was a corner with dolls and doll houses, another with Lego bricks, and another with dress up clothes. We had a lot of fun, but it took quite a while to get things sorted out after they headed home. For the past couple of wonderful weeks, we have had our 3-month old grandson with us. Yesterday we got to witness his first roll from front to back. He accomplished the feat twice to great celebration. But babies require a lot of gear. His mother traveled from Japan with a stroller, a car seat, a pack for carrying him, a backpack full of diapers and clothes, and a host of other equipment. We borrowed other items in preparation for the visit. One very kind friend loaded up my car with bins of blankets and toys and books and other things for babies. The amount of stuff was impressive. We’ve got most of that spread out in a couple of rooms of our house.

Babies have their own schedules as well. Sometimes when I have something planned, I will pick up our grandson and the rest of my schedule is laid aside as I rock him. The time with him seems so precious that other things are easy to lay aside. I’ve done more just sitting and thinking since he has been visiting and that process is a healthy one for me. A bit of contemplation with a warm baby sleeping in your arms is a good way to sort out your priorities.

Then there is the way that illness disrupts your routines. Doctor’s appointments take precedence. When we are healthy, we go to the doctor by ourselves. When there is a change in health, we go together, so that there is an extra set of ears to understand what is going on. Recovery takes more time for sleep and allows less time for work. After so many years with neither of us taking any medications, adjusting to the routine of medicines takes some effort. Some medicines are taken once a day. Some are take in the evening and others in the morning. Some medicines tat are taken at 12 hour intervals. Other medicines that are taken at 8 hour intervals. We have a written schedule and have learned to set alarms to remind us of the new routines.

We’ve got all of the above disruptions to our routines going on at the same time. Nothing is quite normal at our house. Our pantry is full of food, but not the same things as we might have. Our house is full of people and an extra dog to add to the sense of having a full house. Our grandson delights us every day and we know we are really going to miss him when he has to go back home, which is soon. And we’re up to our eyeballs in medicines and schedules. We have a blood pressure cuff that has a digital memory. It was used nine times yesterday. As long as we’re checking the blood pressure of one person before administering medicine, we might as well check other folks’ pressures as well.

We’ve decided that there is no need to go back to normal, or at least to strive for a new normal. So much of what has happened since this latest health challenge has been so positive and so joyful. We’ve cried a lot of tears, and most of them have been tears of joy. Filling our house with family and friends and pets has reminded us why we wanted to move to this house in the first place.

And it is always good to shake up the routines. I might even start using some new spices when I get back to cooking. In the meantime, there are plenty of cooks providing good meals around here.

Copyright (c) 2019 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!