Tag Archives: family

the final count

Here are my final 2011 New Year’s Resolution Purge numbers*: Technically, I succeeded. I got 33 more things out of my house than I had committed to do. Yay me. For some reason I’m not enthused at this accomplishment, but disappointed that I couldn’t do more.

My observations from this process:

  • I should have just stuck to purging. Most of those big fat zeros in the middle of the month were from the previously mentioned office rework-a-palooza. Which is great except that I spun my wheels on this project while I did that project, and I didn’t finish that project so I could get back to this project and not miss my self-imposed goal. So office rework is still in limbo, and though the furniture is more or less where it’s supposed to go, books are most certainly not.
  • Don’t hype it. I had this GREAT IDEA that a friend did last year and she said it was AWESOME and it’s a FANTASTIC WAY to detox from the holiday season and you WON’T GET SAD if you have this to focus on and YOU WILL LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER. Um, no, not quite. While perhaps not being QUITE THAT CRAZY ABOUT IT I still had grand plans in my head that got waylaid because, let’s see, I work full time, Big D’s in grad school,  we have two kids, and it’s cold and flu season. Duh.
  • Baby steps. I had intended to get through every room in my house in a month (except the kids’ rooms, they’re relatively manageable). My bathroom and bedroom were not fully sorted. I didn’t even get to the basement. So I’m disappointed by my inability to finish what I start because I mentally changed the rules to make it harder for me. Why do I always do that?

But, it’s done. I have now officially declared February the Month of Cleaning Up What You Completely Ignored in January. I’m hoping by March I’ll be able to see if getting almost 200 things out of my house actually made a difference.

* – I have to confess, the last three numbers on the calendar were actually accomplished in February. I crapped the bed the last weekend in January and sat on my butt.

morning routine

(A friend asked me recently to explain my morning routine – I went a little overboard as usual. Big D takes care of mornings 3 days a week now so I can get to work by 6:15 but the chaos is still the same. Please excuse the overwhelming use of semi-colons; my comma key is dead.)

The alarm is set for 6:30 but unless it’s dreary and raining the kids are up long before that. The end of daylight savings time has brought 4:30 and 6 am wakeup calls this week. When miss poopypants was still sleeping in our room the most frequent way to wake up was being pelted with stuffed animals from the crib; now it’s a sing-song-y “Moooooooooooooo-oooooomy!” coming from upstairs; the dining room; or somewhere in between. The wisdom of giving her freedom to wander the house when she wakes up is questioned on a daily basis. I poke the slumbering beast next to me who usually hits the sack much later than I do (thanks grad school; but more likely facebook and grepolis) and resign myself to hoisting my body out of bed first.

Now that I’ve hit my Jesus year I’m hearing some dusty pops in my spine; a tweak on my right kneecap; and a growing realization that I really need to lighten the weight load on my joints. I have no idea how to fit that into my schedule but somehow it needs to be done. I locate the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed toddler; the zombie boy who knows how to use Netflix a little too well; make a pit stop; and throw on enough clothes to take the wiggly-butt dogs outside.

Back inside the house; two scoops of dog food are followed by a quick scouring of the kitchen to determine what the breakfast options for the little ones are. On a good day it’s yogurt with fresh fruit and honey; but more often than not it’s toast with jam or a breakfast bar with a witty name. At least I know where the jam came from; I made it over the summer and hopefully picky kid #1 and wanna-be picky kid #2 won’t turn their noses up at it. If I’m working from home I detour to the computer to fire up my work email and give it a quick check; if I’m headed to the office I start searching through the laundry piles to find something somewhat presentable to wear.

Poke Big D again to find out when I can reasonably expect him to waken. Head back to the kitchen to see where the lunchboxes are – little d’s great about putting his lunchbox in the cupboard after several years of dogs ripping into previous ones. miss poopypants is lucky if we remembered to grab hers out of the car. Lunches are always the same unless we ran out of something – drink; half a pb&j; pepperoni and gouda (what a snob!); grapes or apples; fruit leather; and something snacky like pretzels or dessert (usually Quadratini squares; but Halloween has worn down my resolve on crappy sugar products) for little d; half a pb&j; more fruit; more fruit leathers; and pretzels or cheddar bunnies for miss poopypants (she gets enough sugary snacks at daycare). little d’s lunchbox has reusable containers while miss poopypants gets wax paper bags.

If Big D isn’t up by then; there’s one last attempt to rouse him happens before I start getting shitty. little d is self-sufficient regarding getting dressed though you have to insist on underwear changes and confirm they actually happened. miss poopypants likes to run around naked which doesn’t work well for someone who’s not fully potty trained. Usually by this point I remember I haven’t changed her pull-up; find some clothes for her (much easier now that her clothes have a home in a dresser and not just laundry mountain limbo); and try to remember where we took her shoes off last night. Forget showers; they don’t happen for me in the mornings unless I have a nervous breakdown. I’m lucky if I can wash my face; pull my clothes on; brush my teeth and hair; and slam some mascara on. Occasionally if everyone cooperates I can find some jewelry. Half the time I leave for work without underwear – not on purpose.

We negotiate who’s taking who where (usually me both places on my work from home days). Occasionally if we split things up I can walk little d to the bus stop; more often than not we pile everyone into the car and drop him at the corner either on the way to daycare or on the way back from daycare.

Does everybody have socks? shoes? lunches? Where’s your coat? Put your shirt back on! Where’s the car key? Where’s my phone? Where’s your phone? I don’t know! Do you need keys to lock the house? Who’s taking which car? Who’s coming home first? Did the dogs poop when you took them outside? Did we leave anything on the counters? In the trash? Did we close the doors to the basement/living room/upstairs? Do we need to leave a light on? Is there any gas in the car? Why not? What bank card do you need today? Do you need to take the bus home? I’m picking up the kids today right? Help me get her in her carseat so she doesn’t run down the driveway. Where did all this trash in the car come from? Don’t forget to lock the front door! Is everybody buckled? What did we forget? Where’s your backpack? I forgot to close your door! Everybody ready? Everybody go!

Dropoff at the bus stop is easy; most of the time little d doesn’t want us to stay anyway. Dropoff at daycare is more complicated – someone who used to walk in and say ‘Hi EvereeeBuddieeee!’ now clings and cries. Once extracted from the monkey girl I can take a deep breath and start thinking about the office. On work from home days I stop for caffeine on my way back home; office days involve catching a bus; hoping for a seat; and vegging out for a few minutes before flashing a badge and hitting the x-ray machine. I’m already exhausted and the morning hasn’t even begun.

my latest excess: unreasonable expectations

Most people think I have my shit together. And on the surface, it certainly seems that way. I have a job that I enjoy that pays me a handsome wage, a happy and fulfilling relationship with Big D, two gorgeous and crazy little ones, a comfortable house, newish car, leather couch from IKEA that my dogs have not yet ripped apart, new Apple with a screen that goes on for miles. What else could a girl want?

Time to think, for one. I’m anal retentive and neurotic and a professional planner. That means I need to be organized and have a plan in place for everything – monthly bill-paying, home renovations, meal planning, you name it. And under the best of circumstances, I would take time out each week to update, manage, and assess the plans for efficiency. It’s a great system. Now if life would only let me use it.

Because even though I have my shit together, my spectral aura must be screaming out “Dump more stuff on her! She can take it! She’ll rise to the challenge!” So since I’ve become an adult, I’ve had to:

  • move out of my parents’ house without their knowledge to maintain my sanity at age 17
  • manage being the primary support for a suicidal relative
  • see my father wither from Parkinson’s disease for over a decade
  • marry someone I thought I knew, but didn’t – *really* didn’t
  • care for a dying relative for three months while in graduate school
  • put my then three-year-old son through a divorce (thankfully, an amicable one) and start out on my own all over again at age28
  • deal with becoming unexpectedly pregnant five months into a new relationship
  • manage my mother’s pitiful financial situation while my father lay dying
  • integrate Big D into my household, which was interesting given our respective baggage
  • pop out my second baby over nine pounds, without an epidural (or any wish to have one)
  • have my mother spite me one more time by dying unexpectedly less than one year after my dad, on the day I was moving into my new house
  • deal with three houses and three cars and two kids and two dogs for a solid six months
  • and and and…

I haven’t had time to assess whether I’ve kept my shit together or not. Frankly, I’ve jumped from one crisis to the next, always reacting and trying to put out the next fire. 2008 was a particularly stressful year, because miss poopypants came along, I started an intensive leadership program, moved, lost my mother, and gained massive amounts of paper to push at work. I’m quick to cry when easily frustrated (though less now than six months ago), haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in over a year, and am more or less caffeine-dependent after being off the stuff for a good six years. Hobbies? Don’t even remember what they were. Books? Good for the bathroom, and that’s about it. I can’t stop moving when I’m at home, for two reasons – 1) there’s always something to do, and 2) if I stop moving, I fall asleep. Thank goodness my biological clock is aching for more babies, otherwise I’d never have enough energy to get laid.

And yet I still expect more of myself. I expect that I can be a better partner, mother, employee, housekeeper, and do so while being thinner and eating healthier and cooking all meals at home and attempting to be frugal….. and I don’t know why. My expectations of myself and my abilities are still framed around my time in college, I think, when I took a tougher-than-average courseload, worked a part-time job and had an internship, and still had time to paint and go to flea markets on the weekends and plenty of time to navel-gaze. Why don’t I have any free time now? Why can’t I get the house cleaner? Why can’t I clean out the garage and finally park my car inside?

My expectations are probably the most excessive – and destructive – part of me. So maybe I shouldn’t obsess over every expensive drink I consume, for the money or for the caffeine level. Because when I cut back there, I compensate with sneaking old Halloween candy and coveting little d’s Easter bunny. Or if I cut back there, I can’t stop thinking about guacamole. My rewards for dealing with stress aren’t awful – a latte here or there is certainly better for me in the long term than drinking alone – but I’ve come to the conclusion that my high stress levels need to be the first thing to go. They are truly excessive and in the end, the most harmful thing for me. I’m working hard not to obsess about the sink full of dishes because the kids that dirtied them won’t be kids forever. The laundry on the bedroom floor is truly less important than enjoying the reason why it was tossed there. My family keeps me grounded, keeps me sane, and deserves my best – not half of my attention while my eye is on the dirty floor.