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The Dreaded Once A Week Shopping Trip

I’ve enjoyed that – for the past several years – I have been able to hit the grocery store every day if needed. This has allowed me to really shop sales and to plan meals based on that day’s schedule combined with my mood. I always feel one of the perks of being The Cook in the family is getting to cook what YOU want. I know some people say you spend more with the daily shopping, but not me. I hate doing BIG grocery trips because it’s a pain in the ass to carry in and I just don’t always know our schedule during the week so meal planning is difficult. I may have 5 minutes to cook dinner at 5:15 or I may have no time to cook but we’ll be home at 7pm starving to death. Of course, when I worked from home I had plenty of time during the day for prep or monitoring of things in the crockpot, so that added a flexibility I don’t have now. But if I was in the mood for Mexican that day? I’d run the 1 mile down to the store and get stuff for Mexican. Even when I worked in an office it was only 10 minutes from my house which still gave me time to head home, stop by Publix on the way, unload groceries, and get back to work before my lunch hour was up.

Now I work 40’ish minutes from home and 4 out of 5 nights this week I only have enough time after work and before soccer to let the dog out. I’ve tried some end-of-the-day grocery store trips, but I hate that because I want to be DONE with my day by 7:30pm, not still needing to go grocery shopping. I still have housework to do when I get home so not getting home from my day of work/soccer until 7:30 stresses me out. Of course, some days I’ve realized we needed things by a certain time so I’ve had to run into Publix on the way home and grab that ONE THING because I don’t have time to grab anything else. Yesterday? I had to go to Publix TWICE. Once for the emergency Kitty Litter (I’m not used to paying attention to things I’m running out of because I go to the store every day) and once DURING soccer for real groceries. And that’s a pain because I had to go to the Publix by the soccer fields which I hate, and I had to do it during soccer practice which I also hate because I can’t monitor how it’s going.

So, I’ve decided that on Saturday, I’m going to try the Full Week Shopping Trip.

ACK.

This means trying to map out the full-week’s schedule and predict what’s going on when so I can plan a meal that takes the right amount of time to cook. This means really paying attention to how much of things we go through so that we don’t run out of Kitty Litter on a day I don’t have time to stop until 8pm. This means I have to plan for lunches and pre-soccer snacks and maybe some crockpot meals if my crockpot doesn’t go insane and cook on High all day instead of Low. I think I’ll still plan a “End Of The Day, Late Night” grocery trip to Publix every Wednesday so I can see the new week’s sales and have a mid-week day to pick up stuff I might run out of. So, in reality I’ll do one “BIG” trip on Saturdays and one “Refill” trip on Wednesdays and hopefully I’ll get a handle of shopping sales at Target an Publix on those days that way.

UG. Just thinking about all of that grocery shopping in ONE trip makes me insane. I hate having so many bags that I can’t carry them in on one trip. It’s part of having 13 stairs to your front door. It makes you hate big grocery trips.

So! Do you shop 1.5 times per week? What’s your secret? I’m sure I won’t get it perfect the first week, but my hope is that I only have to hit the store these two times every week. Do I need to write down everything we’re going to eat and attack the list that way? Do I need to hire a strapping young man to help me lug in all the groceries? How much cereal to my kids actually eat one week at a time? How much beer do I need for a whole week?

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The Grindstone

So! I have a new job! As long as there’s work, I can get 40 hours a week, but it’s doing web/digital/photography etc for a real estate company and there’s a “slow season” in the fall so my chances for getting 40 hours are not guaranteed. But right now it’s the busy season and I’m as busy as I want to be.

I worked chunks of days last week, but yesterday was my first day trying to get in a full 8 hour day. At an office. With a cross-town commute. I’m officially part of the rat race, I think. I’ve not worked this far from home since 2006. Since then I’ve either worked from home, not worked, or worked close enough that I could come home at lunch most days. This now means my poor dog, Sweetie, is home alone from when Donnie leaves at 7:30am until I get home (hopefully 4:30pm) – and yesterday did not go well. She was in such a frenzy that when we tried to leave again for dinner she bolted out the door. In the rain. She NEVER does that. Nikki freaked out and ran after her in the rain, which only made her keep running. After we all stood getting soaked for 10 minutes we got in the van and played Kidnapper looking for her. We found her on the major road by our house but she wouldn’t come until we were back in the neighborhood and opened the van door for her to hop in.

It was basically the worst way to end my first full day back in the commuting workforce.

But other than the long day away from my high anxiety dog, and the driving, I think it could be the perfect fit.

Except that I have to shower. And can’t wear my pajamas.

Even 2 years ago when I was working in an office, I had my own hidey-hole and never saw anyone or dealt with the public. So – if I wanted to show up slovenly – it was okay. I never (rarely?) did, but the option was there. And it was also a bunch of tech guys so, even when I did show up slovenly, they probably didn’t notice. This office is full of beautiful people who shower and dress nice and would DEFINITELY notice if I showed up in my flannel PJs and my fuzzy houseslippers.

So I’m showering now! And getting dressed! It’s a whole new me!

IMG_6772Unfortunately it’s also Dogwood Blooming Season and that’s the tree I’m allergic to (or one that blooms at the exact same time) so we’re officially starting the several weeks where my eyes swell up and I sneeze constantly. This is bad because this new office has a very open work space with concrete floors and it’s often very quiet until I sneeze…LOUDLY. I’m going to have to try that “close your nose and be cute” technique or they may kick me to the curb for the next 4 weeks.

It’s definitely a big change. It’s fun so far, and I’m learning tons about the real estate industry. It’s a whole new set of language and talking points and business models. How weird is it that as soon as my house is put on the market, I get a job at a real estate office? And the two companies aren’t the same so it’s REALLY weird. I’m definitely getting extra insight into the market as an employee than as a home seller, which just adds more fuel to the “Let’s never move again!” fire that’s already been burning in my soul.

But mostly? I’m exhausted. Before, every time I got up to go to the bathroom, or make a snack, or let the dog out, I did one chore around the house. Maybe I loaded laundry, or dusted that shelf. I probably squeezed in an hour of housework spread out in an 8 hour work day. But now, that hour (because it still needs to be done) is just waiting for me when I get home. On top of the other hour I usually do before work in the morning. Keeping a 4,000+ square foot house show ready is time consuming, and now I’m away from home from 6:30am until 4:30pm everyday. So, if you add in 2 hours of housework onto that – you’re talking 6:30am to 6:30pm of office and housework. Then there’s soccer and packing lunches and cooking dinner and – HOPEFULLY – a run/bike/swim here or there periodically.

So, yeah – this new schedule is going to suck the entire time the house is on the market. It will suck for the dog, suck for the kids who now go to afterschool care, and suck for me who just has to get used to a 6+ hour sleep schedule to make it all fit into the day.

But just until the house sells. Then we can move (maybe a tiny bit closer, although not too close because we like the part of town we live in) and have a smaller house that takes less to keep up and I won’t even have to keep it as clean as we do now. Everyone say a small prayer, perform a pagan ritual, light a candle, chant a matra asking the universe to PLEASE help us sell our house soon. If not, it may be me you seen running down the road in the rain at the end of a long day, avoiding the van trying to take me to a padded room somewhere.

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Good Thing I’m Selling My House, And Not My Inbox

So, last week was weird. I still had work for my job that needed to be done because I don’t drop to “on call” until April 1st, but the kids were also home for Spring Break and I was trying to keep my house constantly “show ready”. What that meant was that, If I was home and not working or cooking or sleeping, I was cleaning.

And that’s a WHOLE NEW WORLD for me.

Normally, if I’m home and not working, cooking, or sleeping – I’m playing. There aren’t many hours a day when I’m home and “free” so I use those hours to catch up with emails or Facebook messages (which I often miss because Wes plays with my phone and will accidentally open them up when the notification pops up and then FB thinks I’ve read them) or tweets or wall posts or blog comments. Basically, I would sit down a few times a day and just RESPOND to people however they were communicating with me. I don’t think I realized I did that, until I no longer did.

I kept putting it off, “Well – you can get to that FB message or that email AFTER you put up the laundry (that I used to leave in the laundry room).” But then after I put up the laundry I noticed there was a puzzle left out. And that lightbulb was burnt out and OH MY GOD, where did those finger prints come from?

And suddenly – that 30 minutes between soccer practice and bed time is gone and I’ve STILL not responded to that FB message.

(If I even saw it.)

Wesley made Donnie coffee and me a giant mess to clean up. #totesadorbs

Wesley made Donnie coffee and me a giant mess to clean up. #totesadorbs

So…things got pushed to this weekend. I thought a lot on my race on Saturday about how I was going to take the time when I got home and RESPOND to all of the communications I had gotten during the last week. And y’all? I have no idea what happened to my time. By the time I was home and cleaned up it was 1:30. I needed to pick up some groceries and there was a lot of “upkeep” type stuff for the day since everyone had been home all day. It turns out that even when my kids are doing better than I had hoped in keeping things clean, they’re still kids who make messes. Nikki helped a bit, but it just seemed like BAM! It was time for us to leave for dinner. And the same thing happened on Sunday – I ran, picked up groceries, cleaned some floors, did some laundry and BAM! It was time for family dinner.

I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE MY TIME IS GOING.

Or maybe, I had no idea how much time I had before? I mean – I’ve never been the best at getting back to people who have contacted me in one way or another. Emails get accidentally archived before I reply, Facebook messages get forgotten (if I ever see them), and blog comments get pushed back after new entries and I just forgot about a lot of it. And that was BEFORE. Now? The stuff I remember or keep where I can see it? Still goes ignored simply because I HAVE TO SWEEP MY FLOOR EVERY DAY AND THAT SUCKS SO HARD.

Long story short: I’ve learned one major, two part lesson. I had a lot more free time to respond to people daily on line when I (evidently) never cleaned anything.

BUT THIS WEEK I HAVE NO JOB! YAY! FREE TIME! (#SilverLining) So, I’m hoping that by the end of this week I’ll have my ducks more in a row than they are now. I’m sure I’ll never be perfect but I’d like to not wake up in the morning remembering that message from two weeks ago that I never replied to.

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Easy and Impossible.

The house is officially on the market with an MLS listing and everything. It’s been almost 48 hours and no one has come to see it so I’m already have visions of 12-month upkeep of this damn clean house and I’m considering drinking my blues away and it’s only 4:10am.

But then I remember that our old house was bought by the 2nd person to see it. And it still took about 6 weeks. So, you know, CHILL OUT KIM.

It is weird how I find the upkeep of this clean house both easy and impossible at the same time. When I’m doing small things like putting up a toy that has been left in the middle of the floor (because nagging my kids 100 times a day to pick up after themselves does NOTHING) it seems so easy to keep things clean. One toy! One second! No big deal! But then I vacuum my bedroom for the second time in a week and I think there is no way I can vacuum every few days for the entirety that the house is on the market. NO WAY. Especially when 3 hours later I notice all of the dirt on the carpet from the kids just coming in and out from playing. Then it REALLY feels impossible because I WILL NOT VACUUM MORE THAN ONCE A DAY. NO, SIR.

But it doesn’t take too long to make the beds, and putting up the laundry when it’s done is way easier than waiting until there are 5 loads to put up. And scrubbing sinks or counters several times a day has become just a habit I don’t even think about so…EASY!

And then the dog leaves muddy footprints on my hardwoods and I have to steam mop the floor for the 3rd time this week and I decide it’s impossible all over again. And is there any point in ever cleaning the windows? Or dusting? How did I never notice before how fast dust accumulates on surfaces? Or how little time it takes my dog to put nose prints on every window in the house? IMPOSSIBLE!

48 hours in and I’m already experiencing this kinda of frenzy so, you know, let’s hope this thing sells fast!

I will say this – it is so nice living in a clean home. I usually only clean this “deep” (it’s “deep clean” for us, but for a lot of people it’s probably not) when we’re hosting family dinner or having people over. So, maybe 8-10 times a year? Tops? And it only stays that way for 24 hours. But since pictures were last Friday the house has been this clean now for FIVE DAYS and I’m just LOVING it. It’s amazing how nice it feels to walk around in a house that is clean, I never thought I cared but I think maybe I just chose not to care because if how much I love this clean house is any indication…I CARE A LOT.

Welp. Time to wrap this one up because there’s laundry to be folded (EASY!) and floors to be swept (IMPOSSIBLE!) for the 95th time this week.

I can not believe these are my kids' rooms.

The Value of Now

For the last week as I was getting the house ready for photos, I was kinda practicing keeping it “show ready” because I needed everything to stay ready for photos on Friday. It was a good practice considering the house goes on the market on Monday. The secret I’ve learned already is that – the longer you put off facing something? The worse it gets.

My kids own the upstairs of our house. There is the “living room” up there with the big TV, but the big TV has been dead for a long time and we had all stopped watching TV up there anyway. Since we gave up cable, TV is something we’re more deliberate about. “It’s time to watch Flash,” instead of, “I’m just going to veg out in front of the TV for awhile.” I tend to watch shows the kids watch too (like Flash) so we just became the family that curled up in our big bed and watched TV together since it was our pre-bedtime type of ritual. So, the upstairs living room? Became a ghost town.

The only other rooms upstairs are Nikki’s and Wes’s rooms and their playroom. So, in reality, I never had any reason to go up there. And I did rarely because I never really wanted to see the devastation that would occur after hours alone up there. I would avoid it, deliberately, just so I wouldn’t have to see the destruction. I would only see it when I put the kids to bed or woke them up and that was easy to blind myself to since I was focusing on bedtime or getting ready for school.

I’m basically the Scarlet O’Hara of housework.

This week has been a good “trial” period because the kids haven’t been home much. But, I’ve been seeing any excuse to go upstairs and TAKING IT. And then looking around and grabbing the socks that are on the floor, or putting up the Nerf Sword, or closing a closet door…the little things that add up to giant disaster areas when you put it off for days. And y’all? It’s crazy how clean I’ve been able to keep things.

I can not believe these are my kids' rooms.

I can not believe these are my kids’ rooms.

This morning I’ve bee doing laundry. This is another thing that has changed to “now” rather than “later”. I keep caught up on the laundry, but I never put the clothes away. They just stay sorted and folded in the baskets in the laundry room. But for the last weeks? I’ve been practicing putting them away as soon as their done and you know what? It only takes a few minutes if you do it one load at a time. When I do it after 5 weeks of laundry? It takes an hour! But this morning, I put Wes’s clothes up as soon as I was done sorting them and it took less than 5 minutes. Plus it forced me upstairs where I threw a few stuffed animals in a toy box.

And last night, I noticed our shower needed some scrubbing. So, you know what I did? I scrubbed the shower. Right then. I’m not used to “cleaning” as I’m the type of person who just likes things picked up, but doesn’t care about scum on the baseboards or dog nose prints on the windows. But to show the house I have to care about that stuff, so I’m training myself to notice it. And instead of just putting off that spot on the shower for “bathroom day” – I just took care of it then. In the NOW. Instead of waiting until LATER.

I think that’s what I’ve learned. The reason I hated cleaning baseboards was that as a whole task around the whole house? It’s seemed like a giant waste of time. But if I see a spot on the baseboard in E’s room and I wipe it down right then? It’s less of a monstrous task and more of a one-second thing I can do on my way to pee.

I know people like the Fly Lady swear by the whole single tasks on one day thing – like Windows on Wednesday! But it seems maybe that’s why I’ve hated cleaning all along. Looking at it like giant tasks makes me want to hide under the bed and cry. But if I just do it when I notice it, it’s less overwhelming. I’m never going to keep my house Fly Lady clean, but I can keep it clean enough to make it show worthy. And I can do that easier if I do small tasks when they need to be done instead of giant tasks on a calendar. And this is easier if I just allow myself to walk around the house regularly so I can see those small tasks that need to be done before they become giant tasks.

It may seem like I’m cleaning all the time that way, and maybe I am, but for some reason it makes it WAY less intimidating or overwhelming. I let the dog out, I notice a spot on the glass, I clean it. I put the kids to bed and notice the door handle is grimy, so I wipe it down. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but I’ve learned that for me? Tending to the cleaning in small moments of “NOW” throughout my day makes me way less miserable than thinking of giant tasks in the “LATER” of the week.

Of course, I’m sure in a month I’ll hate it all.