Archive for January, 2011

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I really can’t stop talking about the clean.

January 28, 2011

I know, I know.  I just wrote a post about the clean house.  But this one is different.  This one is about things I am doing for myself, not things I am making other people do for me.

Like I mentioned, the cleaning people worked on my closet.  But it wasn’t perfect.  Excellent head start, though.  I surveyed the remaining issues (i.e., one giant pile of shoes on the closet floor), and declared to WD that I wanted a shoe rack in the closet.  He went out and bought it for me the next day (hell, yeah!).   So now that closet is in much better shape.  even though the shelves are still overflowing with sweaters, and I need to weed through it all and get rid of the stuff I do not wear.  Soon.  I will do it soon.

Then I completely reorganized my bathroom closets and cabinets.  It is quite shocking how much space I have, now that I’ve cleared the clutter and created a better-organized space.

This is – I think  – one of the benefits of having my house cleaned.  It frees me up to take care of these smaller things, because I am not instead spending my time frozen by the huge daunting tasks of deep scrubbing.

I’m also thinking about decorating more.  Pulling some more rooms together.  Painting the bathroom, living room, dining room and office.  Putting down new flooring in the kitchen.  Buying new furniture for the office.

I think my husband hates me.

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Just as Awesome as I Thought it Would Be

January 27, 2011

My house was cleaned this week.

Honestly, for the way it looks right now, it may very well be the first time some parts of it were EVER cleaned.  In particular, the baseboards in the hallway that didn’t look clean when we first moved in, still didn’t look very clean after I attempted to clean them right after we moved in, and certainly didn’t look clean after a couple of half-hearted attempts to rectify the situation in the past 3 years.  Also, the radiator in the kitchen that I thought was permanently nasty-looking due to rust … it’s white now.  I guess I could have tried harder.

They even cleaned and organized my closet.  Which is actually very embarrassing.  I mean … I never expected them to go into my closet.  And because of that incorrect expectation, I shoved things into the closet, and made no attempt to organize the closet.  The closet is big, and it is deep, but not a walk-in.  I have sometimes kept my dirty clothes hamper in the closet, and sometimes, while it was in the closet, it got over-full, and I threw stuff on it anyway (stuff = underwear, maybe), but becuase it was over-full, the stuff sort of tumbled over behind the basket, and so when I finally took the basket out of the closet, the stuff remained in the deep corners of the closet.  But then the cleaning people came, and they crawled into that closet, and pulled all the stuff out of the deep corners.

Ouch.

As Lemon would say:  “So, um … yeah.”

Lemon didn’t say that after the cleaning people left, though.  She didn’t say anything to me, except some grunts and other highly irritated sounds, all accompanied by turned-down eyebrows and scowls.  Why?

Because Lemon just had midterms.  her first in high school.  For the past, I don’t know – 3? weeks, I’ve been impressing upon her that Cleaning People Were Coming.  First, they came to give a quote.  Then they came to clean.  So it’s been a pretty long-standing situation.

Interjecting into my own story:  I don’t clean the girls’ rooms.  Maybe I will sit with them annually and help them (make them) throw stuff away and weed out their closets.  But they clean their own rooms.  Sometimes.  I may make some vague noises about it being a weekly requirement, but I suck at enforcement (partly because of how messy my own room is most of the time … partly because I am lazy and a large part of me doesn’t care).

I guess despite my multiple warnings, she took it with a grain of salt.  Maybe because I had been threatening to have someone clean the house for the past 3 years, and it never materialized.  But you would think once they did come to give us a quote (and she was home!), she would have seen how I meant it this time.

But then they were coming tomorrow, and her room was a disaster, and she was studying for midterms in a way that was all consuming and stress-creating.  She complained and bitched and moaned, and said “why do they have to come in my room?  why can’t my room just be MY room?”

I said fine.  They don’t have to go in your room.  We’ll close your door, and tell them not to go in.

Writer Dude did just that.

In the meantime, Mouse spent 30 minutes here, 30 minutes there, and straightened her room a decent bit.  It was not perfect.  Far from it.  But it was also 100x better than Lemon’s.

When Lemon came home and saw that Mouse’s room had been completely cleaned AND organized … even her closet … Lemon was livid.  Sooo livid!  She was – at first – mad at WD and I.  But we reminded her of the earlier conversations.  She hmph’d at us, but stayed livid.  I said, “this isn’t fair!”  (maybe with a bit more authority than it reads there …) and she said, “I’m not mad that they didn’t clean my room anymore.  Now I’m just mad that my room isn’t clean.”

So I traded her:  stop having a nasty attitude with ME, and you can watch an episode of Modern Family on my iPhone.

Then we had peace.  Even smiles and laughter.  For the rest of the evening. (Surprisingly, this is not sarcasm.)

I love my clean house.

 

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Another Snow Day that Isn’t.

January 22, 2011

Although, you know, walking around Boston’s Government Center in the snow was actually quite enjoyable.  I like living in New England.  I like living in a snowy climate.  It was pretty, and I didn’t mind.  In fact, news reports are telling us another blizzard may be heading our way, and I am excited about that, too.  [I also think this may really be my snow day … I could stay home and shovel!  Yee ha!!]

Also, the non-snow day for me meant I got to have my first use of my new gym membership.  If I’d stayed home, it wouldn’t have happened.  Also, the office was just quiet enough, in snowy Friday mode, that I was able to disappear from 2:30  – 4 without being noticed.

It felt great to be back at the gym.  I did the elliptical machine and the stationary bike, and I burned around 400 calories (according to those machines) in about 40 minutes.  I was surprised at the stamina I had right out the gate, and was pleased.

I remember the last time I was really successful at gym work outs, I was absolutely obsessed with the number of calories burned.  It was like a game, or a puzzle, for me.  What speed do I have to stay at in order to burn 600 calories on this machine? [I know those read outs aren’t accurate, but I’d like to think – at least – that they’re consistent, so if I work to increase my calories burned on one machine from one day to the next, it is truly an increase].  That obsession still resides within me.  I was so determined on that bike yesterday to get to 200 calories … I increased the RPMs as much as possible without getting ahead of the peddles.

I burned 400 calories at the gym, but then came home and indulged in not only Friday Night Wine, but also ice cream night with the family.  But I still feel thinner and more fit today.  Just knowing that I started on the path toward fitness.

 

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Racking Up the Expenses

January 19, 2011

I was very fortunate, in these bleak economic times, to receive a raise with the new year.  It was generous.  But!  guess what I did?  Well, at least I think I did … I spent it!  here are a few things I have come up with to make it so that I – actually – do NOT really have a raise:

1)  I’ve gone on and on about this.  So it’s hard to feel bad.  It hasn’t even started yet, but the ANTICIPATION of it leaves me giddy.  So giddy that I keep straightening rooms, and sweeping floors, and vacuuming carpets.  Because I know that soon and very soon, SOMEONE IS GOING TO CLEAN MY HOUSE!  Oh, praise jesus.

2)  Lemon is taking Latin.  Only not at her high school (which would be free).  With a private tutor.  At her high school, she’s taking mandarin.  She was thinking of adding Latin as a second language come her sophomore year, but then she discovered photography (an elective at the high school), and wants to continue with that, as well as with drama.  So she asked me to get her some Latin outside of school.  Oy vey [is that Latin?  No?]  I think she’s doing this for 2 reasons:  (1) obsession over the SAT [no, i do have ANY clue where that may have come from.  I do not know ANYONE who may use the word “scholarship” to an excessive degree] and (2) genuine exploration of a love of languages.  She’s done so well so easily in mandarin, and is very interested in looking at more languages in the future.  She has heard from several people about Latin as a root for Spanish, Italian and French, and hopes to pick those up quickly after Latin.  Which of these 2 goals aren’t worth supporting?  Neither!

3)   Mouse’s boobies grew.  Okay – so this was a 1-time expense (sort of), but she INSISTED on an emergency Target run last night.  Despite my obviously-not-a-true-conviction boycott against them (in light of their support of anti-gay-marriage candidates), and despite the ridiculous ice and snow on our New England roads (we were one of 10 cars in the parking lot … seriously).  Because her bras were suddenly too small.  Admittedly, calling what she’d been wearing “bras” was a pretty loose use of the term.  They were more like “cropped tank tops created some time in the 1970s” or thereabouts.  I don’t even know where she got them.  I “found” them in the house.  Maybe. Or elsewhere*.  Like another dimension.  Because I really never BOUGHT them.  So we went to Evil-Town last night, and we bought shitloads of bras from the Girls’ Section, in size L.  We were happy to find ones that were not merely gathered-in-the-center tank tops, but rather had 2 distinct panels.  They did NOT have padding.  When Lemon was at the same stage, all we could find were the “baby” (i.e., gathered tank top) bras, or padded (albeit tiny) “cup” bras.   Mouse was luckier. They are even cute.

4)  Lemon has asked me to find her someone “to talk to.”  She’s had this in the past, when her relationship with the Ex was an absolute nightmare, and i didn’t trust myself to talk to her in the neutral way that I find Very Important from a divorced parent.  She’s asking for it now because she feels like she often gets disproportionately upset about small things.  She has high anxiety.  She still has tantrums.  She’s 14.  I am 95% of the time able to manage her.  But she’s 14 … how long do my management skills matter?  I’m impressed that she can look around her and assess on her own …. “mom, when you asked me if that glass in the sink was mine, I got really upset, and I got angry.  I’ve been at my friends’ houses when their parents ask similar things, and my friends just shrug.  I think something is wrong.  I’d like to talk to someone.”   I made a few calls, I got recommendations.  I let her know what I was doing.  “Mom, I think I was overreacting … I’m fine.  I don’t want to talk to someone.”  A month later, an explosion about a homework assignment.  or about a dinner she didn’t like.  “I think, Mom, I still want to talk to someone.  And this time, if tomorrow I say I changed my mind, can you please ignore me?  And make me do it anyway?”  She starts in the next few weeks.

5)  I am fat.  I have a large ass.  I thought I could run in the winter, I thought I could take care of what I need to take care of.  But I am not doing it.  There’s snow.  slush.  tiredness.  I need to join a gym.  There’s one in my building, steps from my elevator.  i think I need to do this.  For myself, for my resolve (or lack thereof).  It’s hard to imagine a routine in which I have MORE time, but I have to.  I am currently not who I want to be, and I am the only person who can fix it.

So – see?  The raise is gone.

But so many things are potentially in order.

Important things, really.

*Lemon actually has been known to receive “hand-me-down” bras in various stages from her more-endowed (i.e., earlier developed) friends.  So it’s not so crazy that I would find undergarments that I never bought in the house.

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Bliss

January 19, 2011

Well, first of all – non-bliss.  The Patriots lost.  I can’t say much more about that.  It’s still too upsetting. [Still.  Even though I started drafting this post on Monday, and now it’s Wednesday.  I’m still too upset.]

Otherwise, this has been a 100% work free weekend.  So wonderful.  WD and I took a drive into the office today to bring some art in, so I can have it hung on my walls (finally), and I gave him a quickie tour of the place.  But I didn’t run into anyone I worked with, and none of them have emailed me all weekend.  Ahhhh.

And!!  Today?  A housecleaning person came by to look at the house, and should be sending me an estimate this evening.  Amen.  I have no problem taking care of my own messes, but the DEEP cleaning … stuff that should happen weekly but that you don’t see until it’s gross and would take a full hour to tackle in each room (baseboards?  eww.  under radiators?  disgusting.  And why do I still get nasty finger prints on doorways?  My kids are 12 and 14.  Not 2 and 4.  There is no reason for it. They should have less crap on their hands. ]

All in all, I had a weekend of rejuvination, relaxation, family time and productivity.  Throw in some shopping (hello, Costco!) for a new microwave – one that actually has a number display that works – and a yummy memory foam mattress topper, so I can sleep on the clouds instead of on comfortable but thin mattress that allows you feel each spring (which still works!) when you touch it — I really did have a great weekend.

And now that this draft has been languishing on my dashboard untouched, I can even update to say – the start to the workweek hasn’t been so bad, either.  (oops)

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Rejection.

January 14, 2011

I am feeling like a not-adult.

Like a baby.

I am trying to work through my own feelings, and think through my own emotional reactions.

“Suzie, it is normal that your 14 year old does not want to be at home.  It is normal that she wants to spend every waking moment with friends.”

But over the past two weeks, I’ve been stung by the number of times she’s run out the door the second she finished her homework, or the instant she stepped out of the shower – seriously – maybe she could dry off first?

And then yesterday a certain string of things happened that made me realize that my feelings of rejection aren’t really about her being busy, it’s about the fact that she is always going to the same place – the home of her “best friend” who lives directly across the street.  I don’t like her being there that much, for various reasons (the biggest one being that I feel that her mother is a non-parent).

It’s bothering me.

Yesterday, at dinner / well, by “at dinner” I mean at the end of my dinner and the beginning of hers, because she was sent from the table for really raising her voice and all-out YELLING at me about vitamins / I inquired about her weekend plans.  (Three Day Weekend, woo hoo!)  She said she had plans to go with her group of friends to a craft location in order to make a birthday present for this friend’s mother.

I threw up a little bit in my mouth.

Considering that this is my daughter who completely blew off Mother’s Day this year, and gave me a “hug” as a gift/token of her appreciation.  (Although to be fair, she kicked ass at both my birthday and at Christmas … but I still don’t have the consistency that will allow me to forget the sins of Mother’s Day.)

Then I saw on the ever-informing Facebook that my daughter, and her small group of friends, are planning on being the party planners for this other-mother’s wedding this coming early summer.  And then I was all tangled up inside, and had to stop myself from running down the hall and telling Lemon that (a) she is not allowed inside the house across the street, ever, for the rest of her life, and (b) she is not allowed to attend the wedding, or take any part in the wedding AT ALL.

(Yes, I am aware that I’m like a jealous wife, only the mom-version. )

But I calmed myself down.  With great concentration and outloud-talking-to-myself.  I tried talking to my husband, but he became all … male-like.  He wanted to talk about things from a “logical” standpoint and to analyze the situation, and Lemon’s relationship with the friend, and basically I tuned him out and got twice-as-mad because he wasn’t understanding me AND my daughter was deserting me.

I am calm today.  I am okay today.  I am recognizing my overreaction of last night.

I’ve really never been a huge fan of this friend.  Mostly because she brought Lemon a lot of misery in the early middle school years (5th and 6th grades).  WD isn’t so fond of her, because she has a mean streak, and she’s a real leader … and Lemon seems to follow.  But I haven’t seen her following extend to the meanness.  I’ve seen her stand up to this friend in meaningful ways, and I’ve seen her champion for the friend’s targets.  But we’ve also questioned whether some friendships that Lemon has “outgrown” in recent years were actually friendships that this best friend didn’t approve of, and which Lemon was pressured to dispose of.   Both of the “outgrown” friends I have in mind were known to be focal points of the best friend’s hatred and mockery.

I also recognize how harmful it could be – potentially – for me to step in forcefully against a friendship at this age (and I thought the same at previous ages, because I have much less reason to step in now than I used to).  I remember being a teenager.  I remember my mother arbitrarily (so it seemed) decided she “didn’t like” my friends, and having to come up with excuses why I couldn’t go to their house or to the library with them after school.  And eventually, I came up lies to my mother about whose house I was going to, or who I was going to the mall with.

If Lemon’s friendship was a truly destructive one, I’d step in.  But I’ll save my big guns (if I really have any) for those moments.

In the meantime, I’ll be a parent – not a peer.  I’ll get over my own mis-placed jealousies, and make sure that I’m enforcing reasonable boundaries for the right reasons (i.e., impending midterms).

I will also employ the technique that so often works magic, see if I’ve still got the touch:  I will take her out for sushi over the long weekend, and spend some 1:1 time together.  Between both of us having pretty full weekends last weekend, and the week having passed in a blur, we’re a bit overdue.  It should help ease the tension, and get us back on the right foot.

 

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The Snow Day that Wasn’t.

January 13, 2011

I left work on the later side on Tuesday night, amidst all the blizzard warnings and forecasts for 18+ inches of snow here in New England, because I wanted to wrap things up as much as possible.  I had determined that I was NOT going to traipse through the active blizzard in order to get to the office.  I would “work from home,” but I wanted the air quotes.  i didn’t want to work.  I wanted – actually – to build a snow man.  I wanted to shovel.

So, when I got an email at 9:20 in the morning asking me to “focus” on a certain project during the day, I was less than thrilled.

I billed 10 hours.  I didn’t get outside until the sun had set.  I tried to shovel some, in the dark, with my husband glaring at me from the kitchen window because dinner was ready.  And I went for a walk.  But that was it.

No snow man.

While I was on my walk, I ran into a neighbor.  I told her that it was my first time outside, and that I decided being an adult was for the birds, that I wanted a snow day!  She poo poo’d the sentiment and said, “well, in our house, we put everything on hold and played in the snow all day.  I mean, really, what is *that* important?”

[does my bolding and italicizing show the tone I wanted to convey?  does my irritation show through?]

Too bad I didn’t run into her and her sentiments before I went to law school.

Ha!

Even before I went to law school, there were plenty of things that were *that* important; that required me to put my responsibilities before my fun.

My second burst of work happened between 9 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.  I fell asleep some time before 12:30.

This morning, I was lying in bed worrying about whether or not Lemon woke up without me knocking on her door, because it was 7:15.  She came into my room, alleviating my concerns, and said she wished she could still be in bed.  I said, “yeah, well, I worked until almost midnight.”  She said, “when I grow up, I want a job like yours.  One where I can choose when to stay in bed, and where I can decide to work later in the evening, and go in later in the morning.   I think I’ll do that all the time – before I have a family, so I won’t be rushing home all the time like you do to spend time with them.  I’ll just work late, and sleep late, and it will be perfect.”

Of course, lying in bed a little longer isn’t always an option – but she’s seen that, too.

Monday is a holiday; a 3 day weekend around the corner.  I anticipate having the weekend off, entirely.  Let’s see how that goes!