Archive for the ‘Housekeeping’ Category

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Major Shift in Household Duties

July 2, 2012

Gulp.


David started a new job today.


Guess what I have to do tonight?  I have to cook dinner.*

I make much of the fact that I don’t cook, and that David does.  My girls make much of that fact; David makes much of that fact; my parents make much of that fact.  My home-friends roll their eyes at me (in jealousy).  My work friends either do the same as my home-friends, OR they are in the same boat.  (It’s not as unusual as you’d think for female attorneys to have partners who either work from home, work part-time, or stay at home caring for kids, etc.)

I know for most people, needing to cook about 50% of the dinners in their house wouldn’t be a big deal, or it would be, because they would get to STOP cooking the other 50% of the time.

Before David was in my life, I cooked all the time.  I cooked all the time while I was a stay-at-home mom to babies and toddlers; I cooked all the time when I was a working single mother.  The shift from being an at-home mom to a working single mom came with a shift in meals.  The girls’ memories tell them that we had Amy’s Mac & Cheese for dinner every night.  The reality is that it was our Friday night meal.  But I did definitely get into ruts.  I had several meals that I cooked often, if not once a week.  But they were years where the girls were pickier eaters.  When I did try something new, rebellion ensued.  I remember a certain eggplant dish in particular …  (although, to be fair, I also found that dish to be inedible).

When David and I were dating, back in California, he would come over and cook dinner for us a couple of times a week.  We were all Very Impressed.  They were great nights.

When David and I took the plunge and moved across the country together, we shared cooking duties and grocery shopping duties.  For a while.  I think I wheedled my way out of my turns shopping sooner into the cohabitation than I managed to get out of cooking — but eventually he was doing it all.  And at the time, he was working full time, and I was in law school.

When we were sharing the cooking, the deal was that he would cook and I would clean.  I don’t remember when even THAT stopped.  But it did.

At one point, when he was doing all the cooking and shopping, but I think I was still pretending to clean up after dinner, I started doing his laundry.  He had been doing his own, and I would do mine and the girls’.  But I saw that he was getting the very short end of the stick, and so I said I would do his laundry, in an attempt to even things out.

But then, I stopped doing that.  He does his own laundry now.

All this to say — This change is happening now that he is going back to full-time work, but it really has been long overdue.

Now I’m back to perusing recipes, looking for inspiration.  I need inspiration that is quick, simple, and healthy.  Not easy to come by.  But I think I can do it.  I’m going to have to acclimate myself to our grill — I’ve used it a few times, but I don’t know it well.  I’m also going to force David to eat a lot more fish than he prefers.  Because Mouse is a vegetarian, and I’m not really down with the “cooking two versions of everything” method that David has adopted.

Tonight, I’m making tilapia with garlic and lemons, and roasting some broccoli.  Because I am doing a low (or no) carb thing right now, and because they really ought to be contributing to the household, especially since they’re home all day lazing about, AND because they’re picky as all get-out, the girls are making their own sides.  Mouse is baking a potato, and Lemon is making herself a vat of rice.

And while I’m trying – really I’m trying – to get back into work-mode, I’m instead perusing more recipes. Would love to hear about any that are quick, simple and healthy.  Cheap doesn’t hurt, either.  (I know, I want everything!)

* Drafted this post at work, just now posting.  First dinner was a HUGE success.  Girls loved the fish and broccoli – Mouse made herself a baked potato, Lemon made some steamed rice, David and I had double portions of broccoli.  All plates were clean.  Hooray!

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A Tuesday at Home

February 7, 2012

I didn’t go into the office today, but ended up with a couple/few solid hours of work.  I’m undertaking efforts to transition all of my pro bono projects, which are plentiful.  I’m finding people to take over, and trying to tie up loose ends before I pass the baton.  Some of this, I will be sad to leave behind.  Other aspects – see ya!

I received confirmation from the firm today that my vacation pay will be significant (almost $10K), and since it was vacation untaken, I will use it for some corresponding fun:

  1. A new computer.  I bought my laptop (the standard MacBook, which is now obsolete) while I was in law school (I seriously just typed high school . . . that would have been funny).  I wasn’t so easy on it during those years, and since then it’s been through a lot.  David was laughing that when I bring it in to have the Genius Bar Folks transfer the data onto my new MacBook Pro, they will marvel at the dinosaur.  I told Mouse today that I bought a new computer and she said, “good – it’s making so much noise, I’m afraid to sit near it.  And it keeps FLASHING!!”
  2. A vacation.  Like I said – I’m replacing that Outer Banks trip if it kills me (watch, it really will).  We’ll go in June.  It will be awesome.

I’m also working on closing out my benefits at Old Firm.  We have dental appointments, eye appointments, etc.  Today Lemon went to the dentist, and she was none too happy about it.  She has a small filling and has to go back in a month to take care of that.  In the meantime, I was wrestling with the dentist’s assistant to get receipts in the proper form so I can get the services paid for by my health care savings account.  Next up is the orthodontist.  Ugh.  I’m trying so hard not to leave any money in that account, but I’m going to be up against the wire on getting verifications submitted.

David and I recently starting using Mint.com, and we’re loving it.  It’s very fun to see what we spend money on.  It’s part of what led to my One-Month-Goals, because I saw where we were hemorrhaging – which was almost all because of ME and MY spending habits.  Today, David filled up the car and was a little excited that we’d get to see the gas budget increase (because it will justify his whining about it, even though the numbers don’t match up with his complaints about how much money he pours into the car), and then he chastised me:  I bought the girls some chocolate at CVS, and he was picking on me for disguising clearly  unnecessary spending under the umbrella of “personal hygiene” (which we have all CVS/Walgreens purchases categorized as). Heh.

And that was our day.  I did avoid feeding my Parenthood addiction so far, but I’m sure I won’t end the day with that success rate.

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Farewell, January – Hello, Return to Normalcy

February 6, 2012

As I alluded to yesterday, I largely failed at last month’s One Month Goals, an idea stolen from Jen on the Edge (not really stolen, since she generously invites all to share . . . )

My goals were modest:

  • Make my bed every day
  • Catch up and keep up with my laundry
  • Run 5 days/week
  • Lose 2-6 pounds

I came closest to keeping the running goal.  I think I did hit 5 days most weeks, and dropped to 4 once or twice.  Not so bad.  I did get to the point where I can round the reservoir (about a mile) without walking breaks.

I did not lose 2-6 pounds. I held steady.

I made my bed every day for 2 weeks.  And it was lovely.  It worked to keep the whole room cleaner, through the power of suggestion, and to keep the sheets and blankies at their maximum comfort level every day.  But then David was sick, and I started staying in bed more once my interviews wound down, and the bed was overlooked.  I’m putting it on February’s list.

I got my laundry better under control.  I got rid of some of the backlog (sheets, blankets, summer clothes that have been waiting so they could be put away), and my general pile is smaller.  But I did not “catch up.”

I am not going to take this first outing’s failure as a reason to stop the exercise.  No.  I’m going to look at this last month, and the craziness it brought to my life, and I’m going to say “fair effort,” especially considering the lack of a routine and the weirdness brought to life because of interviewing and job hunting and stuff like that.

So, on to February:

  • I will lose 2-6 pounds.  I will keep my fitness momentum from January, but now I’m going to focus on eating better.  I will start with looking for healthier lunches.  (Which will tie in with my budget revisions, since lunches out aren’t gonna cut it anymore.)
  • I will make my bed every day.
  • I will buy (and therefore drink) less wine.  This merges the health and the budget.  Less calories, less money. So my plan is to buy a bottle on Fridays, and that’s it.
  • I will really catch up with laundry.

Let’s see how it goes this time.

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Pre-Acceptance Freak Out

January 28, 2012

Friday was a busier day than I anticipated. I thought I’d have my 10 am informational interview, and then a restful day at home, maybe with a phone call or two.

But my 10 am “informational” interview felt more like a real interview, and then I checked in with a friend who works at that firm for a while.  He ended up being close with one of the associates at the offer firm, so he put us in touch to chat.

I went home, spoke to this associate for an hour, and then called next week’s firm to see if I could move things up, and then had real work to do, and then decided to engage in negotiations with the ex to get child support up to snuff. Then I freaked out, a la paycheck calculator.

Here are some of the results:

  • Associate at offer firm gave a very nice and candid view of the firm. I ended up even more excited to work there. It was good.
  • Next week’s interview can’t be moved up: the firm is in talks with a senior person to come in as a partner. They were thinking if he does come in, they’d bring me in as a junior person to support him. But timing can’t be rushed, and the area isn’t my first choice (and isn’t – really – what my resume indicates I would do, so …. ????). I’m keeping the Thursday lunch on the Calendar for the sake of the “longer view.” it’s not going to be an option for me right now.
  • The Ex was less resistant than I anticipated. I’d done a good job for the past year or so in prepping him for the reality that I would not be at big firm forever, and therefore wouldn’t be able to continue to discount child support forever. I think we can avoid court.
  • But the paycheck calculator was mean to me. 

This will not be easy. I’m nowhere near having to make huge changes, like moving out of my house or selling my car, but the series of little changes are going to hurt. 


A friend joked today, “you won’t be able to run out and get the newest iPhone and iPad anymore!” not that I’d need a new iPad. Mine is great. But if the iPhone 5 comes out ….  


No, seriously. The clothes budget will be an issue, the food budget will be affected. Things like $200 athletic fees for sports will start to hurt. 


We like Calistoga Springs sparkling water, the orange flavor. David tends to buy a case of it now and again, bc it’s cheaper by the case. I was having a glass last night, and wondered “can we keep buying this?” I asked him how much it was, and he really didn’t know. “do you think we will have to look at things that closely?” he asked.  Yes. Yes, I do.


I may need to have Lemon quit her voice lessons.


And the  there’s my other hold out – Third to house and car – the housecleaners. A $200/month expense that I just can’t imagine giving up. I’d rather cancel cable. Having a lower income doesn’t mean I have a lesser job. (Odd as that may be, but the reality when you start out in BigLaw). I don’t have any more time to scrub and polish. The housecleaners don’t tidy – they keep up with the floors, the bathrooms, the dust bunnies under the radiators. And they force us (because all of our personalities require force) to keep up with our personal messes on a twice-monthly basis, so the dust and grime underneath the clutter can be addressed.


Before we had them, I was a sad lady. A mad lady. Weekends were unhappy times because I was resentful that I spent the week working and then the weekend cleaning. So maybe I’d sit on the couch and pout, instead of cleaning, and things were yucky. Then we’d plan to have friends over, and I’d have no choice but to tackle the weeks’ (or months’) worth of grime, and I’d go on a rampage. Cleaning and bitching would go hand-in-hand. I would, essentially, turn into my mother. And like the generations before them, my kids and husband would hide in corners somewhere or leave the house. 


I can’t think of anything other than these housecleaners that has increased the quality of my life to this degree.  Maybe my iPhone. Maybe – but it may have detracted, really, because of the, well, distraction.


So I will tenaciously hold on.


And we will tighten the belts and see how it feels.


And David is still on the job market. It was easier for me because the legal market here is picking up, but other markets are still slow.  I also am currently employed, and he, in contrast, has been managing the home for the past 5-6 years. He got a masters in that time, too, but even that is somewhat in the past. And in the time that he’s been looking, he kinda caught pneumonia – so, things have been slower.


Once he’s settled, I think we will be even closer to ok. 


And so – there I am. Freaking out, but still optimistic. Could be worse, right?


I could have to move … And I do not.

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Resolutions and Goals and Intentions

January 2, 2012

As anyone who has seen my recent flurry of posts knows, I’ve been thinking about the end of 2011, and the start of 2012, and about what I got from the one and what I want from the other.  Of course – 2012 won’t GIVE me anything.  The question is, what will I make of 2012?

I’m not really feeling a “resolution” this year.  I do have my on-going goal to be fit by the time I’m 40, but it’s not to do with 2012, and it’s already in progress.

I have a general intent to be more productive this year, especially around the house.  I have a general intent to find my “place” in my career.  I have a general intent to make sure that during this year of transitions – with both David and I finding new jobs – that our marriage stays strong and doesn’t suffer from the stress.  I have a general intent to keep my relationship with my daughters strong, and to continue to guide them toward independence.

But as a way to turn my intentions into action, rather than just vague ideas floating around in my mind – I think I’m going to follow in the footsteps of my friend Jen.  At least for January, I will make myself some mini-goals.  If this goes well, I will make it a regular thing.

On the career front, the first real step is to find a new job.  This really needs to happen by March 1, and I don’t see any kind of “mini goal” helping on that front.  So let’s look at the other areas that I intend to improve and maintain:

1.  Productivity:  I will make my bed every day, and I will catch up with and keep up with my laundry.

2.  Fitness:  I will run at least 5 days per week, and I will build up to one mile of running without walking breaks. (I would like to add in some strength training and other activities, but will save that for February.)  I would also like to lose some weight.  I will copy Jen and say 2-6 pounds (very reasonable for one month).

I think I’ll stop here for my first month.

And with that – I’m off to make my bed and do some laundry!  (Already had my run today – took 2 very short walking breaks during the mile — grrr.)

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Well, Hello, 2012!

January 1, 2012

Hoping to end this prolonged hiatus.  Not 100% sure why the silence happened.  Despite the recent job news, I haven’t really been wallowing or otherwise in a funk.  But I did throw myself into a few other things (Mouse’s school play, the holidays), and found my time pretty full.

Here are a few highlights:

  • I tried to post a video, back in December, of my Mouse in her play.  I may try again – I think I have to upgrade and pay WordPress some money before they’ll let me do it.  The show was Anything Goes, and the kids were outstanding.  The show is currently on Broadway, and a few of the kids had already seen it in New York.  Mouse wanted to see it more than anything in the world – but we were playing coy, and citing job issues and saying “we’ll see.”  In the meantime, we bought tickets, and were trying to figure out how to best unveil them as a holiday surprise.  She ended up with one of our school play tickets in her stocking, with the date crossed out and the Broadway date written in.  It took her a minute to figure out what it all meant, but then she had actual tears of joy.  It was cool.  (Lemon was also thrilled, as a Broadway-loving gal, but had less of a connection to the show.)
  • David and I had a really good holiday season.  We shopped together for the girls for the first time in years.  In years past, while struggling with my work schedule, we’d sort of taken the divide & conquer approach.  And I took the “divide and spoil” approach.  We also tended to do a lot of shopping last minute, because of the timing of my end-of-year bonus.  That was different this year, in light of not being a regular associate anymore, and so our shopping schedule changed.  Our volume kind of changed – but we just made wiser choices.  If we hadn’t bought the Broadway tickets, it would have been easily 1/2 to 1/3 of what we’d spent in the past, and the girls would have STILL been thrilled.  I’m still going to write a post about the Want, Need, Wear, Read system that we used (and perverted) this year.  We found it interesting and helpful.
  • The holiday(s) itself was also lovely this year.  We went to my parents’ house in Connecticut for the holiday itself, but also had a more intimate celebration at home on Solstice (actually, we did it on the 21st, which I *thought* was the solstice, but this year, I was wrong).  The kids opened most of their presents then, so we didn’t have to cart them to and from CT (and unbeknownst to them, NYC, for the show).  In the end, the girls were saying, “this was the best Christmas ever!”  David and I gave each other a few high fives.  We were really happy with the way things worked out.
  • New Year’s was mellow this year.  For David & I.  Not for the girls.  We wandered down the street for a party from 8:30 – 11:30, where Mouse already was and had been pretty much all day long.  Lemon had friends over, and I felt like, theoretically, it was weird to leave a house full of 15 yos without supervision.  But, realistically, these kids were more than fine.  A handful of girls who were fighting over house rules for Apples-t0-Apples when we left, and who begged me to make them a cheese plate before leaving . . . they were more than fine.  David came home before me, and found them in the middle of a game of Life.  They’d had some Sprite and potato chips.  We all watched the ball drop together, and then David and I retired to our room with our iPads.  We ended up playing games. Until 3 a.m.  Once we finally went to bed, we crashed, so we had no idea that Lemon & Company stayed up all night long, and went to the park around the corner to watch the “First Sunrise of 2012.”

And so now here we are.  First day of 2012.  I’ve been thinking about “resolutions” – but I’m not really into it.  I thought about saying this year’s resolutions will be to make my bed every day, and to keep up with my laundry.  Pretty productive, not overly introspective.  I guess I could say “find a job,” but . . . duh?  What if I don’t make that my resolution?  Will I end up unemployed all year?  Of course not.

So I’ll keep pondering.  While watching the Patriots catch up to and then kick the ass of the Bills.  I’ll try and be more introspective this evening.

I know one thing, already, though —- I’m not sorry to see 2011 out the door.  And I wasn’t sorry to see 2010 disappear, either.  I know I’m ready for a good year.  Very ready.

 

 

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Spaces

April 26, 2011

In 2008, we moved into our current apartment.  It’s the top floor of a 2-story duplex, and it is approximately 1800 or 1900 square feet.

Prior to 2008, we lived in what I call our “law school apartment.”  It was very small.  I believe it was 700 square feet.  It had 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a great room.  It was, most definitely, too small.

When we moved, the girls each got their own rooms, WD and I got an office (awesome alternative to shoving all our crap into our bedroom), and we acquired a dedicated dining room, a dedicated living room, and a full kitchen.

We had to buy tons of furniture, because we have 3x the rooms we used to have.

We still don’t fill all of the closets and drawers that are available to us.

However, just about 2 years later, I am feeling a little bit cramped again.  I’m wishing for more.  More space.

I don’t really crave a ton more space.  I crave one very specific thing:  A family room.*  A second room where people can gather and relax, watch t.v., hang out on the computer, play games, etc.  Our current living room is also on the small side, so maybe I could turn that into this family room that I want, and somehow create a living room – a bit more formal and definitely larger so I can host larger parties.

And there’s a specific reason why I want this extra room.  The kids.  The girls.  Their friends.  Their sleepovers.  Their movie-fests.  The Power Puff Girls Marathons.  Their Buffy the Vampire Slayer Viewing Parties.

I love that the girls bring their friends to our house.  Currently, Lemon and her friends are always at our house.  Every sleepover, every movie night – our house.  We never tell her no.  We are thrilled to have them at our house, and to get to know the kids and to know what they’re doing, where they are, and that they’re not getting into stuff that I’m not ready for them to get into yet.

We say yes, and then we go hide in our bedroom.

Because there’s really nowhere else to go.  So on Friday nights, instead of cuddling up and watching a movie, we’re sitting on our bed, computers or iPads on our laps, struggling to find room for Mouse if she doesn’t have plans of her own and doesn’t feel like being alone in her room, and feeling generally displaced.

Despite this cramping, no one in our family has any desire to start looking for a new place to live.  We live on the World’s Most Awesome Street.  We are central, but yet removed from the main roads.  We are mere blocks away from the elementary school and the high school.  Blocks away from the library.  We are (3) blocks away from the T stop.  The town pool is only a few steps further.  We can walk almost anywhere.

And the social aspects of our street are also outstanding.  It’s a one-way road and little-traveled by cars.  When winter lifts, the kids are in the street.  And there are a lot of kids on our street.  Both Mouse and Lemon have close friends directly across the street … Mouse has 3 close friends within shouting distance.  Our across the street neighbor is one of my close friends.  Because of the safety of our street, kids who live nearby are drawn to it.  I often come home from work in the summer, and round the corner onto our block to find 10-15 kids riding bikes or skateboards, playing games, or just sitting on our porch, doing homework.

How could we possibly leave that?  Just for a living room?

There are two possible answers:

Move Downstairs.

There is a slight chance that the first floor of our house could come available.  We just found out about the possibility a couple of weeks ago, and I do believe that it is only a sliver of a chance, but it was enough for WD and I to start thinking, making “what if” plans, and generally obsessing (classic for me; rare for him).  This would be a solution because the first floor comes with a finished basement, which has 2 bedrooms and a large common area that would be perfect for a kid hang-out space.  Absolutely perfect.  Also, there is enough space in general that I would have my separate office, and we would have a guest room. Drawbacks are (a) it’s just a sliver of a chance, (b) I don’t love the overall layout of the house, and (c) it’s more rent than we’re currently paying.  I just brought the possibility up with WD again last night, and I said, “I don’t know, maybe even if it comes available, I’d prefer to stay here ….”  He pushed back on that.  Because of the extra space.  I guess the question is whether extra space balances out a, b and c.  It very well may.

Capitalize the Space We Have.

Our bedrooms are HUGE.  Mouse’s is a little smaller, but it’s still a great size.  The previous renters actually used Lemon’s room as the living room, but we chose to make it a bedroom because it was across the house from the kitchen/dining room, and I didn’t think it made sense.  We are thinking about plans that allow for us to double up the bedrooms as these hang-out spaces.

We are looking at a loft bed for Lemon which would allow for her desk to be underneath, and then she’d have a ton of space for a couch and some chairs.  The biggest problem with this, as I see it, is the idea of putting a t.v. in her room, so they would actually want to hang out in there.  We have a t.v. in there now, but it doesn’t stay hooked up to cable or plugged in.  We only hook it up for her if she has friends over.  That t.v., however, is from the 1990s, and is small.  The one in our living room is a huge-ass flat screen HD television that is absolutely gorgeous.  Who would choose the tiny t.v.?  No one.  But if we’re going to make her room more conducive to gathering, I need her to choose her room. We do have another t.v., which is currently disconnected in my bedroom, which is larger, but not flat-screen and not HD.  (I do not worry that she will have it on all the time – she is very good at observing our rules, which will be that it is only to be used when friends are over.)

Similar changes can be made in Mouse’s room, although she’ll end up with considerably less space.  We are talking about getting rid of some book shelves, getting a (very) small couch, and some bean bag chairs.

Our room is the same size as Lemon’s, but we are not interested in a loft bed (ha!)  I had been talking for some time about putting a nice reading chair by my bed, but it hasn’t reached the top of our priority list.  Now that we’re trying to figure this out, we’re looking at a pair of them.  I’m thinking about something like this.  But the chair I used to want was a chair-and-a-half from this line.  And I kind of still want it.  Problem is everywhere that I used to be able to buy them has gone out of business! Stupid economy.

I guess we’ll slowly work on capitalizing on the space we have, and if it ends up that the downstairs opens up, and we choose to grab it for ourselves, we will be able to use any new furniture in that larger space.

I do wish I could have stayed content for a little longer than 2 years.

*  However.  If I were to create a  wish list, I would add to it (1) a second office so we don’t have to share; (2) a guest room; and (3) another bathroom.  But these things aren’t enough to make me whine.  They’re just “if I win the lottery” sorts of thoughts.