Tag Archives: Domestic Engineer

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 😉

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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

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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!

Lunch coolers

We had six thermal lunch bags. Two for me, two for Luke, and two for Natalie.Mine are the black & white paisley-ish and the red toile patterned, Natalie’s are the colored polka-dots and the pink with the butterfly, and Luke’s are the plain black and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
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Now we have three. One for each of us. We decided to keep the red toile, pink butterfly, and plain black.
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My kids use lunch bags for school occasionally, and they may more often at the new school come September. I don’t have a job to go to anymore, so I don’t use mine much. However, it is nice to have one in case we go to the park, or on a long drive. I like having healthy snacks available. I thought keeping one for each of us was reasonable.

I have to be honest though, and disclose the fact that I have several more thermal bags and boxes down in the basement. I have used them all on occasion, for camping trips mostly. We camp once a year, so it might not seem worth it, until you get rid of them and six months later you are packing for that camping trip and asking yourself where you are going to pack the hot dogs and string cheese and drink boxes. Because these need to be kept cool, but don’t fit real well in the cooler with all the water and Gatorade bottles. So really, it’s justified, right? Am I right??

I’m afraid I am far from done.

The Secretary Hutch

It’s only been a little over a week since the offer was accepted on the house we are purchasing, but since that day I have been mildly obsessed with where I will put my “office”. In our current house, it is at the end of our large kitchen (pictured below, don’t judge!) and though it tends to become a clutter magnet, the location does work well. Because I spend a lot of time in the kitchen anyway.

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 However, the layout in the new house is quite different, and there is no obvious space for an office area. I feel like I need to have a plan. Not that I need a plan before we move in, just that I need a plan so I can sleep better at night.

We have a very old secretary desk/hutch that we inherited from a family member years ago. It’s sturdy, well-built, and I think could work for my office space. I like the functionality of it because I can bring down the platform while I work, then put it back up when I’m done. And the three drawers underneath can serve as storage for paper and other supplies. It’s just not the cutest. So I was looking online to see what options are out there for new secretary desks. Ouch. For anything decent, it’s quite expensive. So I’m starting to think we could make this one work.

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For today I’m  just going to try and clean it out. Let’s see what we have here…

{Twenty minute intermission}

Okay, I’d be lying if I said I made any real progress. But I did discover a few things of interest.

1) I found my Riverdance CD, which just last week I had been wishing I could find because I think it may be music that would sound good to my bilateral CI ears.

2) I found the Puzzler!! I made for holding puzzles in progress (I used to be crafty). It’s really just a giant cardboard tube with a long piece of felt attached. So you assemble the puzzle on the felt, then when you need the table space for doing “important” things like eating, you just roll it up, and it saves it for later. In theory. It’s been at least a decade since I’ve used it, and I don’t remember how well it worked. I’ll be getting rid of this for sure, but maybe as a gift to my puzzle-loving sister 😉

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3) I have 22 VHS videos in the bottom drawer. I purged my VHS movies ages ago, but these are all home movie types. I’m actually not sure what’s on all of them, and several belong to my husband, so this may be a joint project to continue later. I know that we also have many more tapes, along with our camcorder, hidden in our daughter’s closet. So yes, a project for another day. Archiving outdated technology is something I know nothing about.

And yes, I confess I am procrastinating. But I did make progress on the pull-down desk part! See??

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Ok, that’s enough for today. The little people need my attention…

Type A Confessions

I’ve kind of been on a mission to de-clutter my home, one tiny area at a time. I’ve written about involving the kids recently, but it’s been going on for much longer than that. And now that we are buying a house, it’s time to kick it up a notch.

As a woman with a type-A personality, my problem is not so much with figuring out where to start as it is with learning where and when to END. Because once I get started, I get so thrilled with the progress I’m making and I fear that if I stop when the timer goes off, that I’ll never get the motivation or time to start again. Have I mentioned I’m home all summer with two young children and a dog? The dog is the least of my worries, actually. She doesn’t interrupt me every 3 minutes to ask a question. Or tell me something, or show me something she made. Yes, I love my kids, and I know one day I’ll look back fondly at these pestering moments. I’m just saying they infringe on my inner need to GET THINGS DONE.

So I’m looking for balance. For a realistic plan to accomplish my de-cluttering goals. How can I be sure I’m doing the best I can, with what I’ve got, to get this place ready to pack up and move? I’ve started by listing the areas that need attention, and I think I’m just going to make it a daily ritual. Each day I’ll just work on the area I feel most like doing that day. Which totally goes against my planner mentality, but attempting to plan it all down to the last detail just seems too overwhelming. And unrealistic, as I need to be flexible enough to work around whatever is going on that day here at the house. Will the kids be at Grandpa’s today, playing outside, or playing video games? What kind of moods will they be in? Are they cranky & defiant or are they cooperative and willing to play together without screaming bloody murder every 30 seconds? Because some days they require closer supervision, and that affects the type of work I can get done that day.

I’m guessing if you are still reading, either you share in this type-A personality or you have run out of good reading material. Either way, I thank you 🙂 I think I’m done with this subject for now. Oh, wait, no. I just had an idea; let me know what you think of this… what if every day I blogged (briefly, I promise) about what I have de-cluttered that day. Some days I could even make it interesting. It would be a sort of accountability to keep motivated, and if I come across some interesting junk, it might be fun to write about it before I ditch it. In a way it may be easier to let go of certain things, because if some things had a story, I could post a picture, write the story, and be able to preserve the memory. Because you know that’s why we hoarders like to keep things – it’s the memory attached to the thing – and it’s often super hard to let go. Yes, that’s what I will do. This will be my pre-moving project, to rid our lives of unnecessary clutter, and to share it here on the blog. Who’s with me?!?

Weekly update of sorts

I am in some super slow recovery type mode, so writing (book, blog, Facebook, journal) is not really happening. And that irritates me, but then I get irritated that I am so irritated. Vicious cycle. So today I am just going to bore you with this…

I had a rough walk to the bus stop this morning. I think the dog has gotten too big for me, and with her energy and drive, I can’t hold her back. She throws me off balance constantly. And with my balance issues, that’s a recipe for disaster. So I think we’re done with that program until she gets a little older and can be trained to behave better while walking. That is a thing with dog training, isn’t it?

So after the rough walk I put the pup back in her crate and went back to bed. The sleep probably helped, but I can’t tell. I’m still struggling with fatigue. However, I have managed to do the dishes and make dinner. Chili in the crockpot, and it smells delicious so far. Ground venison, onion, diced tomatoes, black beans, and chili powder. A simple recipe I don’t remember ever trying before, so I hope it turns out ok. We will have cheddar cheese, sour cream, and Fritos to top it off, so that can help with flavor. I thought about adding the can of spicy chili beans that has been in our cupboard forever, but the kids really don’t like spicy, and neither do I. We’ll see how the chili tastes in a couple hours, and I may still decide to add some.

I mailed an application today for the local public transportation service for disabled people. They drive the van right to your door and take you where you need to go. I’m excited about it. As my husband put it, it will give me a level of freedom back. I wouldn’t need to rely on him to take me grocery shopping, or to my umpteen doctor visits. It’s hard to describe how helpless it makes me feel, not being able to drive. I don’t miss the driving so much as I miss being able to go where I want to go. I am an introvert, so one of my favorite things is to go do things alone. Sit at the coffee shop and read or crochet, walk around a bookstore or mall just to browse the merchandise. But if you always need a driver, someone is always waiting for you, and that’s pressure I don’t handle so well. I HATE feeling rushed.

But this Spec-Tran, you plan each ride one-way, so no one is waiting. You tell them when you need a ride back, and they’ll send another driver. At least that’s my understanding. We’ll see how it actually works, but regardless there is no cause for guilt because this is their job, and they aren’t just doing it out of the kindness of their heart. Why is it that we feel guilt when someone does something for us out of the “kindness of their heart”? I mean, by definition they are doing it because they want to, not because they feel obligated. I know it’s not just me. But that still doesn’t make it rational or right.

Oh well. I declare that today is not a day for solving things. It’s a day for reflecting briefly and moving on! Coffee is waiting!