Posts Tagged ‘housekeeping’

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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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My Valentine’s Day Resolution

February 15, 2011

One thing I have always loved about my beloved Writer Dude – going back to the days that we were only friends and dating wasn’t on the table – is his self-sufficiency.  Especially in the kitchen, but also with most household tasks.  Laundry, repairing broken items, building items, interior design …. you name it.  Couple that with his complete lack of sexism (COMPLETE lack), and it you have one very equal partner.  But then, if you couple that with a wife who maybe – just maybe – drops her part of the bargain, and you have an unequal partnership.  Which is bad.  Hence my Valentine’s Day Resolution.

My first marriage was to someone who was raised in a very conservative Christian home.  The wife’s job was to respect and honor her husband.  His mother used to wake up at 5 a.m. to make her husband (my ex’s step-father) a full breakfast before he went off to work.  His church (and mine) preached the importance of a submissive wife, and both cultures supported the wife taking care of the children and the home while the man … I don’t know.  Did manly things.

That did not work for me.

The first reason it didn’t work for me is because — cleaning.  Ick.  Cooking.  Bleh.  I’m really not very good at those things.  As I’ve made very clear.

The second reason it didn’t work is because – well – it’s unfair.  It’s disrespectful.  It’s WRONG.  Also, because the ex was in grad school the whole time we were married, I had no choice but to work so that we could do things like … eat.  And buy diapers.  Stuff like that.   But the fact that I was doing this “manly thing” such as “bringing home the bacon” didn’t change the fact that cooking, cleaning and tending to children’s needs was beneath him.

When WD and I were dating, I was thrilled to be sharing recipes, talking about cooking ideas, etc.  There were times that I would make pizza dough, and then he’d come over with the toppings and we’d cook and eat the pizzas.  That was fun.

Then we became a family, and I started law school.  We started out taking turns cooking, and taking turns shopping.  But school was intense, and even though WD was working full-time and battling the train and commute hours, etc., he slowly started taking on more and more of the cooking.  He would get up early before work and prep a marinade, or fill the crock pot, rush home to finish up and get dinner on the table.  [Yes, he is, in fact, Prince Charming.]

Our rule back then was what I think is a typical one – one person cooks, the other cleans.  And I did a really shitty job, and he’d get irritated with me when he woke up the next morning to prep the night’s dinner, but the things he needed were still “soaking” from the night before.

And at the same time, as he took over lion’s share of the cooking, it stopped making sense for me to do the shopping.  I would get the wrong things.  Make substitutions that didn’t work.  It wasn’t the smoothest thing in the world.

So the shopping became “his.”

I recognized, at that point, the inequity, and in an attempt to balance things out, I said, “okay, I will do your laundry.” Because up until that point, I did my laundry and the girls’ laundry, and he did his own.  He squirmed at the thought of having me do his chores, but I convinced him that because of the way things evolved in the kitchen, it was  – actually – fair.

But somewhere along the way, I stopped cleaning the kitchen after dinner entirely.  It just stopped being my job.  I think he declared it in a huff, and I’m sure there was resentment behind it.  But by that point, I’d started working, and my hours were long, and we’d shifted the work/home balance so that he was not working outside the home, and it seemed relatively fair.

It also seemed relatively fair because this husband of mine … he is picky.  He has a way that he likes things done, and to him, it is the right way.  It is not ‘a good way.’  It is the way.  The only way.  So even when I was putting forth a solid effort, he was less than thrilled with the way that I loaded the dishwasher, or dried the bowls, or put soap on something that he didn’t think should ever be touched by soap, or put a wooden spoon in the dishwasher, or whatever else he had an idea about.

Then  –  yes, more little stepping-stones of imbalance – I stopped doing his laundry.  Again, work, and the hours and oh my!  His laundry kept getting put off and he’d run out of underwear, and after a few months of giving me very sweet and respectful hints (that was not sarcasm), he just started doing it himself.

Somewhere around the end of 2010, start of 2011, WD has been expressing some frustration at how much people leave for him to take care of.  Initially, I didn’t take it too seriously.  I even made jokes with friends that I was like a bad husband from the 1950s.

But this frustration wasn’t just about ME.  It was also about the girls.  When they were younger and had less activities and less homework – they had regular chores.  Put away the dishes, load the dishwasher, clean the bathroom, etc.  That system has broken down since they have gotten older.  They set the table for dinner, and they are responsible for taking their own dishes from the table and into the dishwasher.  If I ask them to clean the bathroom when guests are expected, they do (with little complaint).  They do their own laundry, and are supposed to clean their own rooms.  But there are no regular chores that benefit the household at large.  (Well, except for the cat litter … )

They have been dwindling in their consistency with putting their things in the dishwasher, and WD is stuck with the mess to deal with.  And he was expressing frustration.

I didn’t blame him, and I helped to reinforce with the girls that they need to do better.  But it was impossible to ignore that I was telling them to do things I was not doing myself.

I took a closer look at what was going on.  I saw how many evenings I’d head to bed with a book while WD headed to the kitchen for 45 minutes or more of clean up.  How my dishes would sit in the sink because “the dishwasher is full!”  Like I was one of the whiny teens in the house.   There are also many times where the mess is huge – whether because it was a big dinner or for whatever reason.  Even though there are some things he is particular about – there is nothing preventing me from picking up part of a large task.  Nothing preventing me from saying, “hey, let me help.”

And that is what I’m trying to do.  I am deciding to be a better partner.  I am deciding that just because WD can take on the cooking and the shopping does not mean that he is my servant.  Because he is so willing to be an equal partner does not mean I should take advantage and become the unequal partner.  Even if something is officially “his job,” it does not mean that I cannot be there to support him in it.

It is true that since we now have people cleaning the house that I feel more able and available to be work on these things.  The stuff taken on by the housecleaners are mostly (but not entirely) things I used to be responsible for (even if they didn’t actually get done).  But in general, the house is a lot cleaner now, and because it is a lot cleaner, I feel like it’s easier to get it to perfectly clean.  And I’m not resentful about the mounds of dust in every corner, or the bathroom that isn’t touched unless I touch it, or the many other corners and issues that used to cause me great stress.

Maybe next year’s Valentine’s Resolution will be to take back his laundry …. but baby steps, baby steps.