Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Mid-Month Progress

So my January goal was to deal with the flooring in the living room. Hideous. Awful. Bad. Nasty. Icky. We have carpet, it is just old and falling apart. You can hardly vacuum in there without pulling out long threads of loops. That conveniently wind themselves around the roller of the vacuum and then require you to sit and pick them out. So much fun.

We have honed in on carpet. Low hanging fruit. Truly "we" (AB) would probably (really) rather have hardwood. But we lack time, money and the desire to install it. And honestly I favor, for that room, carpet. It's the room where we roll around with the kids.

We have decided on style and composition and now just need to make a decision between the Home Depot "free install" (but carpet costs more) and the Cost Less Carpet, less expensive carpet but pay per square foot to a third party installer. I am leaning towards the Home Depot install only because when we were selling our other house and replaced the linoleum we went with one of Cost Less Carpet's recommended installers and he did a crap job, then refused to come back and fix it. Just not something I want to deal with.

So now we are doing the waiting and measuring and scheduling.

One of the Home Depot guys asked about paint on the wall. Yes, there is paint on the wall. No, he asked, fresh paint? Because it needs to cure a week before we install.

No, the paint isn't fresh, we told him and went about our business.

Then it dawned on me. HALF the room was painted a year ago or so. HALF the room hasn't been painted since we moved in.

And it doesn't look bad half painted. And in fact, I had only kind of given thought to someday it would be nice to paint that other half of the room and even knew what color it would be - the same neutral we used throughout the rest of the first floor.

Then I had a revelation! (AB loves my revelations.)


We are going to spend a small fortune on super high end carpet, I am NOT going to want to paint that room for the next several years and risk (even with drop clothes - I am messy) a drop of paint on our beautiful carpet!

So January has become carpet and really quick finish painting the living room.

Today (and yesterday) I am hope with the kids as they have days off from school. Today, I tape and prep. Friday, we buy the paint. Saturday, I paint while AB takes Leif to his chess tournament. And hopefully the toddler naps better that day then he is today.

I really did get a lot of stuff done around the house today though. I picked up the play room. A small feat in itself. Days is how long I expect it to stay picked up. But while I was doing that I had another REVELATION!

My February goal. It's a revelation because AB is involved.

They always tell you at work that your goals shouldn't involve other people because that is out of your control. Yeah, yeah. I get it.

So here it is. My sewing stuff is in a bunch of bins and plastic drawers and stuff like that. I need a place to put it all and I have identified the perfect place! I just need a bunch of shelves installed. See that little inset area? It is a perfect nook for some "built ins". And I could even have a shelf dedicated to my sewing machine. And oh oh oh - imagine a table that folds down to CREATE a sewing table!

Ok, I know. Crazy talk. I just need the shelves. Then I can use that folding table over yonder...

Friday, January 09, 2015

Back in the saddle

So I would like to get back to blogging more in 2015. The past few years of shock with dealing with three kids has taken a toll on my writing. I don't blog for others. I blog for myself and try to keep it at a level that isn't private, but accessible to others who care. I don't respond to comments from Anonymous (plenty of those lately), but I try to screen comments of spam and always appreciate comments. So... hopefully you will be seeing more of me back here. I love the wealth of stories and data that I have accumulated over the last 10 years, I want that to continue.

I love looking back and reading funny stories of my kids. Things I never think I will forget, but I do. Here's a few:

On the following conversation with Leif you have to understand that a few weeks ago I told him I wouldn't always be there to do his laundry. Someday he will go to college and have to do his laundry so he should start learning now. This has caused GREAT concern for him. 

Leif: "We had to say in library what we wanted to be when we grow up and I said chef."

Me: "What? I know you like to cook, but I thought you wanted to be a computer programmer."

Leif: "Well I was thinking that it would be good if I was a chef so that when I went to college I could trade with people. Hey, you do my laundry and I will cook you dinner!"

Me: "Well that isn't a half bad idea, but you better be a dang good cook!"

Leif: (looking at me rolling his eyes) "My father is AB." 


Silas is all about instructing me lately. And he gets pretty forceful with what I should be doing. 

"No mama, no." (To just about everything.)

"Go mama, go." (Usually when he is playing with Skadi and doesn't think I should interrupt.)

"Help mama, help." (When his scooter gets stuck, or he can't force his way through whatever.)

"Cheese mama, cheese." (Get me cheese... and the little weirdo is often asking for gorgonzola lately.) 

"Kick it mama, kick it." (Play soccer with me.) 

I love the cadence of his requests and that they all have "mama" in them and repeat the request at the end. 

Almost like the child listens to me...

"No Silas, no." 

Naw... can't be. None of the kids ever listen to me. 

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Happy New Year!

So I kind of laugh when I look at my Goals list for December. Then I hang my head when I remember it was carryover from November.

1. Get rid of the purged stuff.
2. Master Closet
3. Leif’s closet
4. Skadi’s bedroom, closet and bathroom
5. Trailer.

In the past few years I have done a lot over breaks. But this break I have this toddler who is into everything, wants attention and can't really be left alone while I get my tasks done. Oh and he has NO interest whatsoever in cleaning my closet with me. Skadi likes to help. Leif is a tween now and would rather sit on the computer.

I spent the evenings that first week of break (that AB and the older kids were in the Living Nativity) wrapping presents - and wrapping presents - and boxing stuff up to ship - and baking. All that Christmas prep. During the day when the kids were home with me we would sleep in, get up slowly and go swimming or do a few errands. Then we would go home and put the toddler down for nap. Then I couldn't bring myself to start on my chores. Nope. We pulled out a few games and had games afternoons while Silas slept. One day we did Family Pictionary (Skadi rocks at this game), another the new Family Trivial Pursuit, and another day we played Wii together. And I kept reminding myself that the chores in the back of my head would get done when my kids aren't home or don't want to hang with me anymore.

Point by point -
1. About 30% success here. I dumped a bunch of baby stuff with friends and acquaintances in December. Sold a little. Gave some away. Didn't do bad. Where I didn't succeed was in putting the bags and bags of stuff to go to Goodwill IN the car and dropping them at the station that is a whole 4 blocks from my house. As of Saturday though, I am not terribly concerned about that since I just got the notice from our other donation company they will be in our area next week. And they will be picking it all up (plus more I accumulated this last weekend)! This also makes AB happy because he isn't a big fan of Goodwill as a corporation. But I keep going back to the "it's easy and I need easy, but you are welcome to do otherwise" excuse. (He doesn't do otherwise.)

2. Master Closet - well all the Christmas presents are out! (I hope. Hope not to find some hidden.) And actually yesterday, yes, Jan 4th, I went in and sorted my shoes and got everything off the traffic portion of my side. It actually did a ton for the closet and may let me put off the actual complete disassembly and reassembly for a few more months. Because at this point it just isn't happening.

3. Nope.

4. Yay! Closet and bathroom done. Bedroom floor is still covered in Legos. And because she is so obsessed about her Legos and spent a huge portion of the break doing Legos, I left it.

5. Trailer. Yes, it got vacuumed and cleaned. And when it is back from being repaired from our most difficult trip yet, it will need to be done all over. Yay me.

We did get back from our trip to Canada with a weekend left of break and I tackled a good portion of my list of things I wanted to do over the 2 weeks off. Because in the first 14 days, not much had gotten done. The closet (see above), the boys' linen closet (conveniently while Silas bathed yesterday), Christmas down and packed up. Leif made jerky. I swapped around some blinds (housecleaners had broken one that I used regularly) and I didn't want to buy a new (non-matchy-matchy) one, so I swapped it out with another from a similar window I nearly never open.

(Which brings me to a burning question of late - how to deal with housecleaners breaking items... I have had 3-4 items broken recently. I have spoken with the owner about a few of them mostly when I called to question if someone was actually INJURED, but haven't made claims to have them replaced. Maybe I should? What irritates me most isn't the breakage, it is not knowing it happened until later - and no, they aren't things my kids have broken. Ok, off my aside.)

We were going to do lefse, but AB and I decided that focusing on losing weight and getting healthier was of higher priority than potato, sugar, butter, gooeyness. Still working on accepting this...

Then I got to thinking about my January goals. I asked AB the burning question on my mind. What should I do for January??

I was thinking about prepping the Master Bedroom for painting and deciding on a color. He sighed.

Then he said the magic words, "how about the living room floor".

You see we have this hideous and seen-far-better-days carpet in the living room. For a few years we have debated on going with hardwood that we put in our office and dining room to unify a few rooms downstairs. But it is expensive (the room is huge) and back breaking work for AB. But it would look the best and be the best for resale. But we just couldn't trip that trigger on the actual purchase.

So then we thought about replacing the carpet with carpet. But where do we stop with carpet? Do we just do that room or do we replace the carpet on both staircases and in the hallway upstairs? (My dream.) And when? Kind of hated for awhile to get new carpet when we have a toddler. But then it is getting to the point where we kind of hate not getting new carpet while we have a toddler. And then there is the whole "it is embarrassing to have people over this carpet is so hideous".

We are biting the bullet this month. Carpet for the living room. And probably just there and not the stairs and hallway upstairs. But it will be an easy neutral, always in stock pattern that we can do the staircases and hall at another point.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The most dreaded day of the year

No, not the holidays. I am right up there with Buddy the Elf – spreading good cheer and joy this time of year. My most dreaded day of the year has, over the last decade or so, been my SDR (staff development review) that conveniently occurs every late fall. Even when I was promoted a few years ago, I walked into my SDR with dread. It is hard to explain how even in that one year where I jumped a level, that I still had a lingering amount of dread and frustration when leaving the meeting. And it was warranted. I had no idea I was actually being promoted because my written performance review (provided to me 24 hrs in advance) gave me nothing but dread and 24 hrs of mental preparation for going in and ripping someone. Because, you know, I am so prone to ripping people a new one. (Not.)
This year I had a lot of anxiety building up to the day of my review. I switched groups almost exactly a year ago after my SDR (http://acarman72.blogspot.com/2013/12/changes-afoot.html) and had no idea how this year was being perceived by management . I thought that things have gone swimmingly the last year. My work load has increased substantially, my acceptance by others has skyrocketed (from my perspective at least), and my happiness. I have been the happiest I have been in my job this past year, maybe ever. I feel as though I am a valued part of a strong team and not the lone wolf looking for scraps. I have received praise and recognition from my coworkers.
But all that can go out the window in a heartbeat when you read that sheet of paper telling you your manager’s interpretation of your year. I know that far too well.
Last year I sat stonefaced, accused my managers of bringing up legacy crap and asked for an example of how, in the prior year, the issues they cited were still an issue. They flailed a little and landed on that I was trying to usurp the leadership of the current PI of this one project in my role as PM. Neat. Except that I was not the PM of that project and I was instead the Co-PI. Try again. Because if they were at all engaged with my work or even just read my input for the year, they would have known this. Instead I just shook my head and the meeting ended with an agreement that I should probably leave the group and head over to the one where I had been doing most of my work and that they would be very supportive of this.
I did it. It was hard to leap out of my nice cozy (most of the time) shell with a large-ish office overlooking the river over to a small-lish office with a door that opens to a window. But I did it and this SDR was to be my mental calibration. Was the entire year a big delusion of my self-worth at work? Was it time to jump ship and think about that move to Alaska that AB and I keep dreaming about?
Ah well. Sorry to AB, this year was not to be the year that I came home and started packing it in and sending off resumes.
I am at a happy level right now at work. I told my team lead a year ago I wasn’t looking for a promotion, I have enough stuff on my plate with work and in my home life that I just can’t see pushing it this year (or next for that matter). I will push to excel at the tasks I have and will examine opportunities as they come up, as I have every year. But as far as examining the criteria for advancement and striving to hit all those buttons. Not in the cards. 
But it is amazing how a well written, well thought out review of one’s performance can make you walk on clouds for days after. He noted actual metrics. I was told how happy they were to have me in the group. My review stated that I had made a difference to these people. That I was a valued part of the group and the management of the group.

I have friends who are or have been group managers and have heard horror stories of how much time writing SDRs takes and how they rip themselves to pieces internally over what is to be delivered - often only to be yelled at (I never yelled. I countered points diplomatically with my lips pursed.). I know it is no walk in the park this time of year for them either. (And this is part of the reason when I was approached about a TGM position for another group this year, I ran the other way.) But for those managers who take the time to be thoughtful and not start the majority of sentences with "You need to...". Yay you. You rock. It matters.  
I didn’t score the highest tier. But it didn’t matter to me what that rating on the last page was because there was genuine gratitude and appreciation for my work.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Moving on, nothing to see here...

I did a pretty half ass job at my Decluttering November goals. It just became a November that wouldn’t let up. I ended up home a few days with a sick kid, but even then, just couldn’t get it all done. I think my list was ambitious:
  • Master Closet (didn’t organize)
  • My clothes – purge (DONE – and ongoing, I threw another sweater in the Goodwill stack this morning)
  • Skadi’s bedroom, closet and bathroom (ignored completely)
  • My bathroom and the boys’ bathroom (didn’t really tackle with veracity, more like picked at it
  • Purge Silas’ clothes (DONE)
  • Get rid of the stuff I have purged (FAIL, nothing has sold that I listed, so it needs to go to Goodwill or get given away. But it is ready to get out of the house – if Odin would leave.it.alone.)
  • Bonus – Leif’s bedroom. Because Grandpa came and stayed in Leif’s room, his room did get a good once over. But not the closet.
So for December I am going to continue on the organize path and hit the below items I failed at in November.
  • Get rid of the purged stuff.
  • Master Closet
  • Leif’s closet (it isn’t abysmal yet, so if we get on top of it now, it won’t be a huge job.
  • Skadi’s bedroom, closet and bathroom (Gag.)
Then the last one is the trailer. It isn’t something that I really WANT to do, but on our Thanksgiving tree cutting two night trip I made a huge restock list, I found loads of stuff that just needs to come inside or be thrown away. And there are some modifications I want – I want shelves in my “closet”. Stupidest thing ever, a closet that is useless (typical RV closet...) and I don’t need things hung up on that stupid hard to use rack. I want shelves in there. Of course I will need AB for that. I would love shelves in the cupboard where I keep plates and bowls and cups. And the trailer needs a good cleaning. Especially if we plan to be in it for nearly a week in December.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

In the genes?

I have been thinking a lot lately about my mom. She passed away 4.5 years ago after battling a rare form of cancer. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about her - but some days - like lately - more often than not the thoughts of her go by. I have been examining this in my head as I am routinely transported back to when I was about 8 years old in my recent thoughts of her.

8 years old. I turned 8 on January 8th in 1980. Eight was a pivotal time for me. I recall turning 8 and having a sudden increase in awareness of situations around me. Of relationships. And that they weren't always equal. Some were great and some were bad. I had a very good childhood, but my relationship with my mom from childhood until I graduated from college I would only classify as mediocre and was often difficult and painful. It was very good in the later half of my life, but that was due to work on both our parts.

For the most part since AB and I have had children we haven't worried a whole lot about screwing our kids up irreparably. Mistakes have been made, but for the most part I think we are in check. We have a laid back philosophy and it has worked for us.

Skadi is 7 going on 8 and this strikes fear in my heart as I recall 8 as being that time when I realized that my relationship with my mom was different then my sister's. My mom and sister had that special bond and I coveted it. I also remember seeing the disdain between my mom and my grandma.

I had a great relationship with my grandmother - and she lived a mile or so from us. She was heavily involved in our lives and my parents relied on my grandparents significantly as they were very young. I spent A LOT of time at my grandmother's as a kid. My mother had a great relationship with her grandmother. But I recall hearing about the generations of "mother daughter issues" going back to my great grandmother and my grandmother (and probably before that) in my family. And it wasn't just perceived, there were real issues between my mom and my grandmother and then myself and my mom. I almost felt as though it was just expected that there would be problems.

I have made a conscious decision recently that it's going to stop with me. This is why I keep mentally going back to me when I was 8. What went wrong? What can I change about the inherent way that I interact with my kids, specifically, my daughter?

My daughter has never heard about the hard relationship my mom that I had when I was a kid. How my grandmother was my savior (and how my mom's grandmother was her savior). How I used to see the eyerolls between my mom and her mom. And how my mom never recovered from her lack of relationship with her mom. My daughter will never hear these stories until she is an adult and capable of understanding that there is no need to live up to them. My daughter won't witness the difficulties - but that is not by my choice. Of course if I had my choice, my mom would be here and we would talk about and work through the issues together and my daughter would have that fabulous relationship with her grandmother as I had with mine and my mom had with hers. I suppose then, the fact that my mom is not here, I am sort of copping out by skipping in talking about it?  And will this harm my daughter in the long run not hearing about the difficulties? And then what if I fail and she, unlike me, never had access to the information to work through in her own head?

When I was in my early 20's my mother stepped out on the limb and apologized to me. Admitted that I was actually a pretty good kid, but that she couldn't (for some reason I never knew) see that. I knew she couldn't. Despite the fact that I got good grades, was quiet and didn't cause a lot of problems, I didn't tend to do a lot right in her view. I wasn't a great athlete, like she wanted. I didn't choose the activities she liked. I didn't have the right friends. But my mom apologized when I was in my early 20's and that saved us and made us friends from then on. We didn't often act in a mother-daughter manner, more as friends. It worked better that way.

I am combatting the inner demons that say I can't avoid a difficult mother daughter relationship. That it is in my blood. That it is every generation. We share the middle name and with that name brings a difficult mother-daughter relationship. But it is a battle I am willing to take with confidence that I will win.

My prescription:

Every single day I hug my kids. And for a long time I hold them to me. They know that they can just be held. Not the quick, polite hugs. We do long hugs. My family wasn't a family of huggers - this is something I learned when I dated a guy in college who had a big Italian family. They all hugged and it was just a given that you were hugged and held close by people that you didn't necessarily even know.

I tell my daughter she is beautiful. I hear a lot of messages about not commenting on a girl's appearance. I grew up with that. I wasn't told I was beautiful (or pretty, or cute). (My sister was the pretty one!) I was told I was smart. I freaking knew I was smart, I wanted to be beautiful. Everyday, every single day my daughter hears that she is smart and beautiful and fun to be around.

One on one mother daughter time. Or mother son time. I think it is important - particularly with three children, that each kid has that one on one time with us. Skadi and I have our things. Pedicures on occasion. A trip to Target or to the grocery store. I can count on that girl to shop with me. Leif and I do sushi lunches and piano lessons. So far, Silas and I do sick days. One day we will have our things.

In March we are planning our first mother daughter trip. I have an opportunity to go to a conference in Denver, where coincidentally, much of my family lives and can pick up the entertaining my daughter when I need to be in the conference.

And no, I don't think this is going to solve everything, but it's where I am starting with my 8 year old.

Saturday, November 01, 2014


It's my most favorite time of the year. Living here has taught me to enjoy spring and summer. But I still get that special happiness that fills me when the weather starts cooling off, my favorite clothes are appropriate again and I look forward to the holidays.

Halloween has passed now, Thanksgiving - my favorite - is just around the corner and then my other favorite - Christmas.

It's also that time of year when the kids start having loads of days off again. We have conference week coming up, which means we have 6 days of half days. Then the week after that is Thanksgiving. And my tradition is that I take the whole week off and staycation it. The kids actually have school most of Thanksgiving week, but I will keep Silas home and we will have some special time.

I was called for Federal jury duty for Thanksgiving week (and the week after). But I think I will defer out of fear that I would end up sequestered over my favorite holiday. Which would just suck.

Goals. I had initially thought about painting our bedroom during November. But I haven't decided on the color and the desire just isn't there. So instead I am going to work a few decluttering things.

Our closet is hideous. You know one thing falls on the floor and doesn't get picked up - then another item does. And then before you know it you can't even get in the closet. Ok, maybe it isn't that bad... But it is nearing that.

And the other issue in my closet is that there is a load of clothes I don't or can't wear. I need to purge. And AB needs to purge too.

Skadi's bedroom, closet and bathroom. I don't even want to linger on this topic because it kind of makes me gag.

Oh and my bathroom and the boys' bathroom. Just general pick up and declutter.

Silas's room. I just need to purge all those 12-18 month clothes. Tired of pulling out clothes that doesn't fit him - or coming home on Friday and wondering how AB possibly squeezed him into those clothes.

The last thing is the stacks of everything I have been decluttering over the last few months. They need to go to Goodwill, get listed on Craigslist, be passed on as hand me downs, etc. Just general dispositioning is needed. I have stacks of stuff that I have pulled out of the depths that just needs togo go somewhere. Anywhere.

So there it is - November. The month when I have a little more time to go run around - will be the month of finishing up the clutter issues.

And maybe December will be the month of painting.