Category Archives: Domestic Engineer

New goals and stuff

Just real quick folks, I’m checking in to let you know today I am committing to every day – every day – starting with two things before everything else. One – time with God, praying and reading the Bible. Two – 30 minutes of exercise, walking, running, sit-ups, whatever. Those two things, in that order, must be completed before I do anything else each day. So if I know I have plans for the day that could interfere, then I just have to get up a little earlier to make room for those two things. Gah! We’ll see how this goes. This is certainly not the first time I’ve tried to get back to basics and keep these priorities in my life (well maybe for the first item, the second one is a more recent addition). So I’m not telling you because it’s new, but I’m telling you because if I post it here maybe I’ll remember that it’s here and that I made the commitment.

I think this will help me. I have been storing up a lot of anxiety lately over all of the details. Piddly little details, and I’m all worked up over them. So I’m just trying to get centered. Again.

Today I’ve completed those first two, even after going back to bed for the majority of the morning, and now I’m onto the next. Toilets to be cleaned, floors to be vacuumed. And I’m sporting my phone on my arm like a runner so I can groove to my techno station. Gotta make it fun, people!

Oh, and coffee. Another cup of coffee is in the works.

Wait, I forgot to mention – today my son turned 10!! That’s a really big deal (at least it is for him, and I still remember turning double digits myself) and I totally ignored it with this post, didn’t I? I think I’m supposed to share a nice photo and a story of his birth, or something like that, but nah, forget “supposed to”. We have celebrations planned for him, dinner with the family tonight and a party on Sunday. So I’m sure you’ll hear more about it from me soon enough.

Now back to the toilet business. *Focus, Mindy, focus.*

Checking the mail

I look forward to getting the mail. Yep, I’m one of those people. I never used to be, but now that I’m stuck home most days, with not a lot to do other than boring domestic stuff like cooking and cleaning… well, sometimes it’s the most exciting time of my day. The sale ads come every Tuesday, and that’s fun to glance through casually before tossing them into the recycle bin. Most other days it’s the normal bills coming in, which I’m always happy to handle. I still love accounting, so balancing the checkbook and managing the budget makes me feel like I’m still using my skills.

This time of year is especially exciting because we have been receiving all the end-of-year tax forms. And I love preparing tax returns! I used to do it for others, as a side business, but can’t do it now due to my vision. There’s just too much room for error. If I screw up on my own return, no biggie, but screwing up on a client’s or friend’s return is just not cool.

So I’m raring and ready to go on our 2016 return, but we are missing two forms that had to be resent, so I’m anxiously waiting their arrival in the mailbox every day. I’m also waiting for my new handicap parking placard to arrive, since it’s expiring this year. Unfortunately, today was not the day for any of these items. Maybe tomorrow!

And now for your amusement, I’ll show you what my husband thinks of when he sees me run out and check the mailbox on a Saturday, when he’s actually home to see my excitement…

Mailtime!

Kids and clutter, and the proper spelling of memento

Your Child’s Messy Room is Your Fault – Minimalist at Home

This article is so right on. So many thoughts here. I’m currently feeling a struggle with my daughter (age 6) and her room. While she is actually not opposed to cleaning her room (she’s done it voluntarily a number of times), it’s gotten to the point where “cleaning” it doesn’t make a lick of difference. There’s just too much stuff in too small a space. So as the adult here, I do see it as my responsibility to help her.

I found some smelly and sticky things in her room today. Mementos she had forgotten she saved, because time had passed and they were hidden by so many other “important” mementos. Until now, I’ve been hesitant to take a strong and drastic stance with my kids on the subject, because I do believe that even young children deserve our respect. As parents we teach them to respect other people’s property, so if I were to go in while she was away and throw away half her toys and treasures (which constantly tempts me), that would kind of negate the whole message now, wouldn’t it? We need to lead by example.

You may ask why this is such a hot button for me. Why do I care so much about it? Well, because she is me. I was that little girl holding onto every memorable toy and trinket (and they were ALL memorable, of course), and proudly “organizing” every last item. Only it’s true – you can’t organize clutter. You may think you’re organizing but you’re not, you’re just rearranging. It takes a LOT of time and energy.  And while the end result feels nice for a second, it quickly fades (and quickly gets re-disorganized) and you are still left with the stress of the stuff and who knows what’s growing in it. I didn’t learn to come out of this cycle until my thirties, and I’ll be darned if I’m going to let my children enter adulthood stuck in the same cycle. I want to teach them good and healthy habits and attitudes toward “stuff” and I am in no way interested in a short term solution.

So that leaves me needing to land somewhere in the middle. And this article suggests a fairly simple method for doing that. Yes, this strategy involves the mom doing all the work, but she’s merely taking the blame/responsibility for letting the clutter build over the years, and is using the purge as a sort of reset button. That’s what I’m looking for. A reset button.

“Did they interrogate me about what I threw out? Yep, they did. My reply was to challenge them to tell ME what was missing and then we’d discuss it. Of course, they couldn’t identify a single thing.”

That right there not only makes me chuckle with a snarky sparkle in my eyes, but I suspect that will be exactly what happens with my daughter. So I’m gonna try it! I’ll just take a few hours, lock her out of the room, and pack up everything I suspect she doesn’t care to play with anymore (and throw away the trash in between). She’s in a stage right now where her tastes are changing quite dramatically, so I’ll be sure to have a good heart-to-heart with her beforehand, to get a good idea of what she will still make use of and what she won’t. I think as long as I do this with kind and thorough communication, it can really work. It’s worth a shot, anyway. Wish me luck!

My exciting life

I made a ginormous batch of potato soup for the crockpot this morning. Added all the leftover ham from Easter, diced an entire onion and threw that in. Threw in a little bit of chicken bouillon, dried parsley (which I’m convinced is just for show), and butter. It smells amazing and I can’t wait to eat it. There’s no way the four of us can eat it all, so we’ll have a lot leftover to freeze for another day. Win-win!

I’ve been working on laundry and dishes most of the morning. Those two never quit, do they? I just finished eating lunch, and now I’m left debating what to do next. More laundry, read a book, crochet, take a nap, run on the treadmill, walk the dog, watch more reruns of Parks and Recreation on Netflix… I just can’t decide. The nap is really tempting, but I know a walk or run would really boost my spirits.

This is my exciting life, folks! This is a normal day for me, and while it has taken quite some time to adjust to it, I’m finally starting to enjoy it and feel comfortable. I think this is the Acceptance part of the grief process. I am finally here, and can honestly say I am happy and really want to stay.

Oh, but that’s not what I got on the blog to talk about. Shoot. I guess I’ll have to draft that up and post it tomorrow 😉

Why the crockpot is my new best friend

This is not to diminish the value of my friendships with real people, because I have a lot of pretty amazing friends, but by golly, I am really loving my crockpot this year (I’ve had it a whopping 16). The internet holds a wealth of information and ideas for what you can make in these things, and I’m finding plenty of healthy, tasty meals.

But here’s why I’m really learning to love the crockpot – it allows me to work around my fatigue and still manage to feed my family. The fatigue that MS causes has really been kicking my butt hard this past month, and by 1 pm (even after a morning nap) I’m pretty slogged (not sure if that’s a word but it sounded good). By 4 or 5 pm, after getting the kids from the bus stop and handling the flurry of that excitement, I’m close to non-functioning. Which makes dinner prep rather difficult.

Case in point: It is almost 7 pm. We ate dinner already (tacos!!) but I’m feeling the munchies so I went into the kitchen to get a bowl of cereal (granola, actually). I pulled the granola from the cupboard, the milk from the fridge, and set both on the counter. I then got a bowl and poured the granola into it, and proceeded to put both the granola back in the cupboard and the milk back in the fridge.  Notice anything missing?? I walked all the way back to my bowl of granola, ready to eat, and discovered I had forgotten to pour the milk.

It’s really frustrating, feeling so… I don’t know, lacking in ability to perform simple tasks, I guess, and pretty damn powerless to change it. But I’ve been faced with lots of things, big things, that I cannot change. If I have learned anything from these big, unchangeable things, it’s that I do still have a choice. And that choice is to accept it, adapt, and move on.

The crockpot means I can prepare a delicious, healthy meal for my family early in the day, before I get fatigued. I refuse to give up and feed them frozen pizza every night. So, for what it represents and for what it allows me to do, the crockpot is my friend. The thing is old enough to drive now (a wedding gift), but I suppose using it for a ride to the store would be asking too much. We’ll just stick to food preparation for now 😉

Funny story…

My husband is out of town for work, so I’m in charge for a few days. This is another small victory in my book, as around this time two years ago I was nearly a vegetable. He took this same trip last year, but this year I have that bed-shaker alarm to wake me up in the morning, AND I’ve been feeling so much better, so I was extremely confident in my abilities to hold down the fort sans husband. Pride comes before a fall, folks.

At 8:00 am, the time we are supposed to be AT the bus stop, my daughter was still fiddling to get her shoes on and I was frantically looking for my keys. The coffee was brewing, so that it would be waiting for me when I returned from dropping off the kids. Once Natalie had her shoes on, we headed out the door. I hadn’t found my keys, but figured I would just use the keypad on the garage door when I came back. No biggie. Right?

Fifteen minutes later, the kids are on the bus, and I am back home. However, as I was walking up the driveway I remembered that I had locked the interior door inside the garage the night before. The one I intended to use to get back in the house. Because, you know, my protector husband wasn’t home and I’m suddenly paranoid about people breaking into garages. I guess. This is my first garage, what do I know?

I was pretty quickly on the verge of panicking, but I knew that wouldn’t do me any good so by the grace of God I stayed calm and I didn’t even cry! (Seriously, there were no tears shed in the making of this story) My next thought was that maybe the back door was still unlocked from when Luke let the dog out this morning. I mean, why would he lock the door back up? It’s sort of a responsible thing to do, and not likely for an 8 year old to do without being told. So, I hopped the neighbor’s fence (it’s much shorter than ours, and the gate to their yard is not padlocked as ours is) and tried the back door.

As it turns out, my 8 year old is a responsible young boy.

Did I mention I had also left my phone at home?

Yes, I was in some serious trouble here. But it was still early, and lots of people were home. In fact, I knew the guy across the street was home because he was walking back just ahead of me after dropping his son off at the bus stop. So, I walked over and knocked on the door. Sure enough, he came to the door and let me in to use his phone. I left a message for my husband and then we walked over to my house to see if we could open a window (we couldn’t, not without doing some damage). Thankfully Mike called back while we were burglarizing the house in broad daylight, and he suggested that there might still be a key in the garage where he had left it for his dad. We looked, and it was not there, so we called back and had him call his dad to come and unlock the door for me. BIG sigh of relief!!

I only needed to wait a half an hour, but a half hour sitting in a garage with no one to talk to and nothing to read can feel like an eternity. Also, my freshly brewed coffee was waiting for me just on the other side!! What was I to do?! Well, I swept the garage floor – thoroughly. Then I blew some bubbles in the front yard. And sure enough, Grandpa came pulling up the drive soon enough. I sheepishly kept my head down, embarrassed as ever, and Grandpa just chuckled at me. This stuff happens to the best of us. If you can’t laugh about it, you are taking life way too seriously. So, I’m laughing about it now. And you can bet I owe Matthew from across the street a big batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies!

Every Day Is Yours To Win

2015-08-18 09.11.40

The photo above is the view from my back porch. Do you see how the sun casts sort of a glow over the deck? Or is that just me? I took the photo this morning. Our house faces east, so the back porch is still cool from the night air as the sun is rising on the other side, and under the gazebo there is a nice breeze. So this is where I have come to love sitting in the morning (granted, it’s only Day Two), with my coffee and Bible, while Piper runs around the yard or rolls in the grass. When she’s done with that nonsense, she comes and lies down at my feet. It’s lovely. Just lovely. We are so blessed with this new home.

And if that wasn’t enough, we have some really awesome neighbors. All of them. Really. They even have a private Facebook page they use to keep in touch with each other. So while we’ve done some chatting with them leading up to the day we moved in, today we actually got to meet several of them. In fact, when people started getting home from their respective jobs, they seemed  anxious to meet us and say hello. The woman from across the street walked over to say hi, and we discovered we both have sons named Luke. A lady from the end of the street stopped at our driveway as she was leaving the neighborhood, and I was able to meet her and her son (whom I found had already met Luke yesterday). Then after Mike came home we met the man who lives next door to us, as well as his wife and two kids. It’s amazing how friendly these people are. We had heard this was a great neighborhood, but now we’re experiencing it and finding it to be absolutely true.

Oh, and get this – there are at least three other couples on the block whose first names start with the same letter, just as mine and Mike’s do (Mike and Mindy). There are the S’s next door, the D’s across the street, and another set of M’s further down. I love alliteration, I really do. What can I say? I’m a geek, all the way.

The unpacking is moving along. Throughout each day there is a constant feeling that I’m about to hit a wall, but I haven’t actually done it yet. I figure if I just go slow, then even if I do hit that wall, I won’t break anything. Just in theory, of course. I am developing some killer calf muscles, going up and down the stairs. But overall, life is good here and we feel pretty well settled. We have internet now, toilet paper, milk. You know, the necessities.

And here is where my brain is shutting down for the night, whether I like it or not. Good night!