Posts Tagged ‘adulting’

Heavy Adulting

Monday, January 29th, 2018

So here is a thing people don’t tell you about being a grown-up: no one knows what they’re doing. I mean, maybe some people know what they’re doing in some scenarios. I hope my doctor knows what she’s doing when treating me for medical stuff. I hope my hairdresser knows what she’s doing when she cuts my hair. I hope my kids’ teachers know what they’re doing when they try to teach division. But every single day as a grown-up I am faced with things I have NO IDEA how to do or how to manage or how to pay for or how to handle and most of the people I encounter aren’t doing much better. I have a very distinct memory of sitting in a college French class, having literally NO IDEA what was happening because I had been faking my way through French for years, and thinking “Oh my God, I can’t wait until I’m done with school and things are easier.”

Let’s just take a moment to laugh at poor, naive, non-French speaking College Suzanne. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Here’s a current scenario. Lincoln’s annual blood test came back with elevated lead levels in August. Since I forgot to take him for the test last year, they couldn’t tell if it was going up or down. Finnegan’s levels also came back a little high. Because lead is considered a public health issue, their levels were reported to the health district and now it is a THING. A thing I have been worried about constantly since August.

The first woman I talked to told me the level wasn’t actually that high. But she wanted to come out at do an assessment. Two people came and I gave them a tour and showed them the house and told them about the bathroom renovation and how it took forever and the walls were all knocked out and it was so dusty and filthy for weeks. They both agreed the construction probably caused the high level and they didn’t seem concerned. Those people knew about lead but thought it shouldn’t be a big deal.

Then I got a call from someone else at the health department that wanted to do the testing the first set of people said I didn’t need. So sure, testing is fine, I’d love to know what I can do to stop the lead exposure. That woman was a nightmare – more than an hour late, unorganized, unfriendly and basically told me I was a bad person for letting the kids live here. So that was super fun. I spent days panicked over how we could afford to have all the trim in the entire house stripped and repainted while staying in a hotel so the kids weren’t exposed to more lead. Not to mention the fact that ALL the windows probably have lead and we just spent every penny of our renovation savings on fixing the bathroom and kitchen ceiling. That woman knew how to do testing but not how to keep her rude opinions to herself. Also she knew nothing about how to fix the problem.

Then I got another call from the first lady at health department. She suggested that I talk to the people at our town’s community development program because the town has grants available to help fix lead paint issues. I told her I had checked out their website and we didn’t qualify. She suggested the qualifications were more like guidelines than rules, so it might be worth talking to them. I talked to them. I filled out a ton of paperwork. I hauled the babies up and down the very steep stairs to their office to turn in reams of tax returns, bank statements and notarized forms. I’m still trying to get the last form filled out by my mortgage company. But after I dropped everything off, it was radio silence. That guy knew he could help but not how to make a phone call to tell me the status of my application. Also, he quit, so he isn’t the guy to talk to anymore.

Last Saturday I got a phone call from a very nice guy who said he needed 3-4 hours of my time to do a full lead inspection for the town. I was confused, because didn’t we just have a lead inspection? He assured me the one done by the health department is subpar and not what the town needs to write an abatement plan. Which they need, because apparently we’ve been approved for a grant to fix our lead issues. He didn’t know, exactly, because that part isn’t his job. His job was to come shoot his little lead paint tester gun at every painted surface in (and out) of my house. He was VERY good at that job. It turns out NONE of that trim has lead paint. None of my walls or radiator covers or doors or even my cool painted antique bedframe have lead. What does have lead is the outside of all our old, peeling, drafty windows, as well as the original paint on the porch and some on the basement stairs.

I am SO relieved. It’s too cold to play on the porch right now, the kids never go in the basement and the inside of the windows are ok. No one is being actively poisoned by lead. The nice inspector is going to write a report and come up with solutions for how to replace all 26 of our original windows and abate the lead on the porch and the basement stairs. He doesn’t know how, exactly, because he’s not a contractor. But he knows the people who can help.

And then, the day AFTER that inspection, I got a letter in the mail from the community development program saying we had been accepted into not just the lead hazard removal program but also a property improvement program. TWO grants to help fix the house. We’re going to be able to solve our lead problem without taking out a huge loan or selling everything we own.

I didn’t know the town even had a community development office. I didn’t know anyone was giving out money to replace old windows. I didn’t know this is something we could have done ages ago. I didn’t know because that’s not my job. But I also didn’t know who to ask for help, which is the frustrating part. There isn’t a class in college or high school or elementary school that teaches you how to just ADULT. Putting all the pieces of this (and, like, a dozen other problems I’ve had in the last month that are far above my normal paygrade) together is hard. Sitting on my couch watching Master Chef reruns and browsing Facebook is easy. I feel like that’s what being an adult boils down to most of the time – using all my energy to deal with life stuff and then waking up and doing it again the next day and the next day and the next day and as soon as I feel like I’ve actually crossed something off my list 5 new things get added. OMG it’s going to be like this forever now, isn’t it?

I’m not ready for that, so let’s just focus on how in the next few months I’m going to get new windows. Hopefully. Because until that happens I’m going to worry about it every day and never really get to enjoy anything. I know that much.

 

Adulting: Housework

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

Ever since Christmas, I’ve been on a mission to have a clean house. I read the Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up. I joined some organization groups on Facebook and revived my Pinterest boards dedicated to improving my home. I read lots of blog posts. I looked at dozens of house cleaning schedules and charts. And then I threw myself into it.

It’s been going pretty well. Here’s what I’ve done so far:

  • Cleaned and organized the coat closet
  • Bought a shoe rack to solve the pile of shoes by the back door problem
  • Cleaned out most of the kitchen cabinets and got rid of TONS of things I didn’t use or love
  • Cleaned out the banquette storage
  • Cleaned and organized the file cabinet
  • Moved the cereal/snacks/crackers/misc food stuff to a cabinet so my countertop is mostly clean
  • Cleaned and organized the fridge
  • Bought new pillows for all the beds
  • Created a laundry system* with multiple baskets
  • Started emptying the sink every night before bed
  • Started unloading the dishwasher every morning after the kids go to school
  • Prioritized an evening clean up every night before bed
  • Started making my bed, complete with throw pillows

Now, weeks later, I wouldn’t be ashamed to have surprise company show up at my door. (I mean, I will probably be in pajamas and no bra, but my house will be in pretty good shape.) I’m not saying things are spotless or that you could eat off my floors – I have a dog, a cat, and four kids – but if you wanted to come in for coffee I wouldn’t be mad. I still don’t live in a Pottery Barn catalog or a blank white box, so those toys on the coffee table are actually supposed to be there, as is the downstairs laundry basket, the art supplies on the dining room table and the bins of small plastic things. The look I am going for is “well-loved and lived-in family home not occupied by hoarders”.

Are you dying to know the secret to my success? Do you want the link to my eBook on how to solve your messy house once and for all? Am I so smug you can’t wait to poke holes in my system? Let me tell you how I have accomplished this 180 turn around from trash heap to nice home. Here it is, my secret to a clean house:

You just have to f**king do it.

There aren’t any tricks. There isn’t a magic organizational chart or schedule or Pinterest board that made my house clean. I have to do all those stupid, repetitive chores every single day to stay on top of the mess. Even my laundry system boils down to “Oh you put away three loads of laundry yesterday? DO IT AGAIN.” I sit down less. I see something that needs put away and I get up and put it away. I don’t let things “soak” in the sink for five days. I pick up the same toys five times a day and then one more time after the kids go to bed…then I do the same thing the next day. It is never-ending. It is stupid. It is necessary.

It sucks.

The peaceful sleep of a child who isn’t living in chaos, made possible by the fact that I made my bed. And then I had to make it again because he slept in it.

But it is starting to get easier. It’s become a habit to clean the sink and clear off surfaces as soon as I can. Same thing with the laundry – I finally remember to throw in a load/switch to the dryer/empty the dryer several times a day. I’m learning to value how 20 minutes of work can help me stay on top of the housework instead of constantly playing catch up. I mean, I am ALWAYS playing catch up. Always. I have four children. I am very tired. But by constantly climbing towards the top of housework mountain I don’t end up buried under it.

It would be foolish of me to say this is a permanent change. I doubt I will ever be someone who finds it easy to stay organized. But by changing my attitude from “I need a strategy” to “Just f**king do it” I’ve made definite progress. You too can have a sort of clean home if you sleep fewer hours, relax less often, and follow your children around cleaning up their messes as they make them.

*I ordered medium sized laundry baskets for every member of the family at the advice of a friend. That way when I’m throwing clean clothes out of the dryer I can throw them into the baskets and putting away each person’s laundry takes a lot less time than sorting from one giant pile. These baskets are the perfect size: http://amzn.to/2mO0gmx.

These Photos Have Nothing To Do With This Update

Saturday, February 25th, 2017

If you ever needed reassurance that being a stay at home mom is a real job with a long list of responsibilities, come down with the stomach flu for 24 hours or so.
Despite the fact that I’ve been on a de-junking spree for all of 2017, the number of baby toys, kid socks, coats, backpacks, cups, straws, books, markers, pieces of paper, Legos, hair accessories and other random flotsam and jetsom that ended up strewn about my house was incredible. One day without putting away laundry and suddenly there’s laundry piles everywhere. I didn’t even eat or make food all day and somehow there was still a pile of dishes in the sink.
I did manage to keep two babies alive for most of that time. I mean, they were alive for all of that time, but once E got home mid-afternoon I fell into bed until my fever broke.
Luckily, by Friday morning I had enough energy to eat an English muffin, which made me feel 100% better and I got back to my adulting. We managed to more than make up for my lost time by Saturday evening and once again I am going to bed with the dishes done, the floor ready for the robot vacuum, and more adulting projects complete. The ultimate goal is to get the house SO clean and SO organized that one day of illness wouldn’t leave me with a disaster. But I suspect getting to that point is going to have more to do with no longer having a 2-year-old in the house than getting rid of more stuff.

Speaking of the 2-year-old, look at this ridiculous hat.

Happy 33 To Me

Friday, April 10th, 2015

Hey, it’s my birthday, I’m gonna party like I’m responsible for keeping 3 small humans alive on my birthday. So maybe a glass of wine after they all go to bed.

That song was actually really popular on my birthday the year it came out (which I believe was in two thousand and OMG I am old) so I think of it as my birthday song. Just like probably 1/3rd of girls who were in college in that year probably do. I am nothing if not part of my generation.

33 is not a big or special birthday. I don’t have anything big or special planned and we will probably not celebrate in any memorable ways. But a bunch of small things have come together recently that lead me to believe 33 might be the age which I am officially an adult. And not only that, an adult who is pretty good at adulting sometimes.

I have a skin care routine. I realized those spots on my face weren’t just big freckles and I bought two different kinds of cream that have the words “anti-aging” in them and I reliably both put them on AND take my make-up off. I’ve never done that more than two days in a row before, but it’s been a couple weeks so maybe it stuck this time. Plus I expanded my makeup routine from “mascara and sometimes foundation” to “expensive mascara, primer, foundation and eyebrow gel”. I am probably the only one who can tell, but I FEEL more put together.

Along those same lines, I also a) have a standing appointment for a hair cut/color maintenance and b) wear earrings. Both tiny things that I always felt like I was never going to manage and yet now I have and do and it makes me happy every time I look in the mirror. Earrings! A lack of noticeable roots and split ends! Like a real grown up!

In the less superficial department, I also used my phone as an actual phone several times this week. I returned a call to get the kids set up for summer camp. I answered an unfamiliar number that ended up being Evan’s teacher. I moved my hair appointment. I called Nikon to find out what I could do about my broken camera. I called the camera supply place to find out if they could rush-ship a new one. I called and made the dermatologist appointment I hate making. Ok, that last one is a lie, I didn’t call yet. I hate the medical care on base and I have to see them to get a referral to a real derm and I hate the dermatologist in general because having my skin examined closely by ANYONE is horrifying. But I also don’t really want to die of skin cancer, so I’m definitely calling on Monday.

Other adulting skills I’ve mastered this year: Mailing things without standing in line at the post office. Going to the grocery store and not buying mostly ice cream. Taking out the trash. Talking to my kids’ teachers without feeling like I’m about to get in trouble. Recognizing when buying the more expensive version of something might be a better choice than buying the cheap thing. Making school lunches. Not staying up too late (most of the time).

My goal for the next year is to be an adult about my own self. I need to make wiser choices to be healthier. I need to stop eating my feelings. I need to use that wine-drinking time after bedtime to maybe do some push-ups. I also need to buy myself a pair of jeans that fit – just ONE PAIR – so I don’t have to wear yoga pants to yoga pant inappropriate locations, like dinner at restaurants with real silverware or all the birthday parties the kids are invited to this month. I can beat myself up over the size of my pants and losing baby weight afterward (because I am not sure I will ever be adult enough not to do that) but at least I can do it from the comfort of pants with a button that actually buttons.

So it’s not like I’ve discovered the secret of life or become wildly successful or been a perfect human/wife/mother but this year was pretty OK and I hope next year is even OK-er. Maybe on my 34th birthday I’ll be able to say I’ve successfully learned to spell the words “apartment” and “apparently” right on the first try. It’s good to have goals.

 

Get Adobe Flash player