Tuesday, March 31, 2015

It's Good to Have Goals

The last day of March! Less than 10 weeks of school left--woo-hoo!

I am really looking forward to summer. Although I will be going to the shop several days a week, it will still be fun. C was trying to talk about a summer schedule with me the other day, and I had to say, "Dude, stop. There's no way I can know right now if you can spend the night with your friend every Sunday so you can go swimming on Mondays, and if we can always go to the shop on Tuesdays" (I have no idea what her plans for the rest of the week were).

Our salesman has a son who is a senior in high school. He is here vacuuming, and I enjoy that I am not in charge of the cleaning just because I am, you know, a woman. I have done a little bit of cleaning in the bathroom, but haven't volunteered to vacuum or wash the dirty dishes (not dirtied by me) because I didn't want to set a precedent for being the "mom" who cleans up after everyone. It's good that the boy knows how to do these things--a sign of a kid who's being raised right. His dad says he's a good worker, you just have to tell him what to do. This is a lot like my son. He doesn't complain and does a good job; but he has to be told what you want. Come to think of it, that's like a lot of guys. I actually don't mind that. Some women feel like, "I don't want to have to tell him what to do--I just want him to notice it on his own and take care of it!"

Well, that doesn't bother me IF the man is willing to pitch in when it's brought to his attention. Justin has even told me to ask him to help when I need it. I try to ask in a nice way because flies and honey and all that. He usually takes care of it right away. There are some repairs/cosmetic fixes that have been unfinished for years but luckily that is not the kind of thing that bothers me--I'm able to tune it out just like he has. When we have guests coming over, he gets in gear and takes care of those details.

I once saw a saying: "When a man says he'll do something, there's no need to nag him about it for two years!"

There are a few things that will probably not get done until we sell the house. I'm okay with that. But I should make a list of easy fixes that will improve the look of our home with little effort.

1. Hang pictures in our room and L's room. Ours were taken down when he painted our room--I don't even know how long ago. My dad gave L a picture of a beautiful golf course when he semi-retired and downsized his office. It turns out I had originally given him that picture, so it's cool that he gave it to my boy since they play golf together. I'd like to hang the picture before my 9 yo graduates from high school.

2. Buy and put up curtains in our room. Before we painted, we changed the color scheme and the old curtains didn't really match. But we do need curtains as the current miniblinds are not very pretty.

3. Paint the kids' rooms. L's just needs two of the walls repainted--I guess Justin just stopped in the middle of the job. C's needs to be completely repainted because it currently doesn't match the furniture and bedding at all. The problem there is how heavy her furniture is but it does need to be done. We have considered hiring a contractor friend of ours. I should probably just schedule it when he has time to do it.

I'm just going to stop there because there isn't that much more that can be classified as "not too much effort." As a cabinet builder, Justin has plans to remodel the kitchen and I think we can all agree that is major, even though he swears that once the cabinets are done it will only be a couple of days to install the new ones. Up till now, I have been saying, "But how long am I going to be without a stove?" I should probably just take advantage of the opportunity not to cook, but the truth is I'm actually more apprehensive about not having a sink. Even if we use paper plates, I'm not wanting to wash a million dirty glasses in the bathtub.

Oh well. Given his track record, it will probably be a couple of years before this proposed kitchen remodel even happens.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Frustrations Resolved

First day back at the office. After being gone so long, my work area was a mess of papers, so I sorted everything that needed to be done, made a to-do list, and did part of it but not all of it (after all, some of it needs to be done tomorrow.)

I also discovered that one of my roles at work involves listening to Justin vent when he encounters something frustrating. The last couple of days have been more full of frustrations than usual. I don't know if it's simply due to being gone so long and under pressure to catch up, or if it also involves some emotions related to his mother's death, but either way, he has gotten pretty mad a few times in the last two days. Today the biggest issue was the new computer program he's mostly learned to use to draw the cabinets, but he couldn't get it to do something he needed it to do. He explained in detail, passionately, what it was supposed to do, and what it was doing instead, and it was all Greek to me. Something about "layers" not working right and the dimensions not printing even though they showed up on the screen. But I was appropriately empathetic and he went back to messing with it (and figured out how to make it work later on, after I'd left. Wait, maybe I'm the jinx?)

Speaking of frustrating technology, I have started to rely on being able to use the Bluetooth link in my car to a) talk on the phone while driving; b) listen to audiobooks and Pandora. Today I could do neither. When I pushed the Bluetooth button it showed that my iPhone was connected, but at the next screen it said "No Data." I checked to make sure the Bluetooth was on on my phone (it was) and I tried turning the phone off and on again. Nope. I had to drive all 45 minutes listening to commercial radio. First world problems, I know. When I got home from picking up four kids at three schools, I called tech support. Did you know they have tech support for cars now?

To make a long story short(er), the very nice young lady helped me delete my phone's connection, then reconnect it. None of this was in the Technology Reference Manual or the car tech support website, I might add; but she was great. I hope she is making an excellent salary for her ability to help the technologically incompetent, and not sounding condescending even once.

Oh! I was proud of myself tonight for improvising dinner. Usually I have my recipe ingredients, and if anything goes wrong, oh well, we're eating out or it's everyone for themselves. Some things that can go wrong: a) I forgot to buy an important ingredient; b) I forgot to defrost the meat; c) I ruined the food; d) I'm too tired to cook.

d) hardly happens anymore now that I'm not nearly as stressed. c) is rare since I don't experiment as much as I used to and I have better cooking skills. Also, one of the reasons I don't cook when d) happens is that if I'm that tired, I'm probably going to ruin the food anyway. Now, b) can still happen and if the meat can't be quickly defrosted and there's no other quickly defrosted option, then I find it hard to improvise. I know many people have no issues with a); they just substitute something else, or leave that ingredient out. It blows my mind that there are a lot of people, my brother included, who DON'T COOK WITH RECIPES. They don't buy specific items to cook a specific dish. This means that they are always able to put something together from what is available, but the downside is this: they may produce something exceptionally delicious, and because they are not measurers, they will never make the dish the same way again. I have gotten a LITTLE less married to exact recipes and know what substitutions might be likely to work, but even that is usually planned in advance and specifically shopped for.

Well, tonight was headed toward d). I had planned, with it being St. Patrick's Day and all, to make a shepherd's pie, because that seemed vaguely Irish and I don't know how to make corned beef and cabbage. Well, I was going to make a cottage pie, actually, as it was to be made with beef and not lamb, but that's neither here nor there. This evening once the kids I watch after school were picked up, it all just seemed like too much effort to cook the meat and vegetables and mash the potatoes and then have to wait another 30 minutes while it baked. It's possible I was just hungry. Whatever. I didn't want to make the cottage pie although it's delicious. I remembered making meatballs and gravy from a book called, appropriately enough, I Hate to Cook. I had all the ingredients except bread crumbs, so I used buttery cracker crumbs (improvising!), and the meatballs were delicious. We had the mashed potatoes and some green beans on the side and no one was frustrated.