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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Final cleaning frenzy of the year

I'm not quite sure what got into me today, but after I took the older 3 back to their father's house this morning, I came back here and I started cleaning.

I mean, really cleaning.

It started out innocently enough. I was putting the rest of the Christmas stuff away, kicking random piles of crap into a bigger pile of crap in the middle of the room and putting other stuff away.

I had decided a few days ago that I was going to do some white trash decorating and put one string of white Christmas lights up in the doorway between the two front rooms. Why? Because I hate it being dark in here at night - I'm blind as it is, so a little bit of light is nice. Nightlights don't work because of where the electrical outlets are placed. So as I was climbing up to put the lights up where I wanted them, I noticed (again) that there were random staples sticking out of the molding around the ceiling - apparently left there by past tenants. And there were cobwebs. And dust.

Oh boy.

Next thing I knew, I was standing on anything that I could find, moving around the perimeter of the room, yanking staples out of the woodwork. Then I was vacuuming the ceiling to get rid of the cobwebs.

Well, after I was done doing that, I couldn't leave the ceiling fan blades covered in dust, could I? You guessed it....me, standing on a bar stool in the middle of the room, with a rag and a bottle of Orange-Glo. Fan blades are shiny now. I even moved the furniture and mopped the floor.

This is just an idea of what the house started out looking like today....

Of course, what you can't see is the massive pile of clean laundry that was covering my futon - it was so bad that I slept on the couch last night rather than dealing with it. But I got all of that (plus more) folded and put away while I was doing everything else.

By the time I was done, it looked a little more like this...

Of course, I didn't really touch the kitchen, so it's still pretty scuzzy in there, but I'll work on that tomorrow after the 5K, maybe. Maybe I'll just sleep.

Oh, and the white trash decorating? Yep, here it is.


Now to address this whole New Years thing...

I don't really make resolutions, because I can never keep them. So these are just some ideas of things that I would like to accomplish in the coming year.

~~ Starting tomorrow with the 5K, I want to try to do a race a month. I don't know if that's realistic, because they do get expensive, and I do have the kids' schedules to work around, but I am going to start looking at calendars of events around here and see if I can do it. I already know that I have the half marathon and another 5K in April so I have quite a few more months to fill.

~~ Along with that, I intend to start eating better in general. I've cut way back on the fast food, but I still eat crap most of the time. I got a couple of cookbooks from the library and I'm going to start looking up some information on some things that I've been curious about for a while and see if I can start implementing some diet changes in this house - and still keep the kids happy.

~~ And along with that one (this one hurts).... I've got to cut down on the caffeine. Notice, I said "cut down" and not "eliminate" - big difference. I can go through a 2L of Diet Pepsi in a matter of hours, and that's just not good for me (and yes, I know the artificial sweetener isn't good for me either, so it's a double whammy). I am not even going to attempt to eliminate it completely, because I know that it's not realistic - not if I want to keep anyone around me happy.

~~ Of course, the usual keep-the-house-more-organized stuff that I've been working on for a while. Honestly, it has gotten way better, especially since my massive Pre-Vacation Cleaning Binge that I went on this summer. But there's still a lot of stuff in this house that needs to go away, and it's going to go. Starting with the big pile o'crap on my porch that is ready to be put in the van and donated somewhere - that's going to happen on Monday.

~~ Along with that one, the kids ARE going to take more responsibility around this house. I admit that I have slacked in this area, and it's going to be hell to get them on the right track. But I'm going to do it, somehow, some way.

~~ Financially, I just need to budget better. Only having money coming in once a month is fine, but we tend to spend too much at the beginning of the month and then are stretched pretty tightly at the end. I need to focus on this more, as well as get a savings built up. We have another road trip to PA tentatively scheduled for the end of June (class/family reunions) so we need to start saving money for that. Plus, I am about 6 months into my "2 year plan" of getting out of this ghetto house and getting something better and if it's going to happen, I'm going to need a chunk of money set aside so that when we do move again, I'm not flying by the tattered seat of my pants like I did the last time.

I think that's a good enough start...I'm sure that the list will be tweaked as time goes on.

As far as our actual New Years plans...The Dude is coming over, and we're going to hang out here together and not go anywhere. Neither one of us drinks a lot, and we're just going to relax. He's going to the 5K with me tomorrow to keep an eye on Daniel while I run jog/walk and then we'll head back here.

And now I need to go find a pair of socks. My toes are cold.


Hi, Ya'll "The Dude" here... Just wishing everyone a happy new year... I know Amy and I get to have one!

Friday, December 30, 2011

A playground, a carwash, and Christmas tree dismantling

Sarah had basketball practice this morning, so while she was there I took the other 4 kids and we went to a local playground for some fun and energy-burning in this wonderful too-warm-for-December weather.

Gotta' love going down those plastic slides with long hair!

Wonder what the weight limit is on these....

This has disaster written all over it...

After practice, we headed back into town so that Sarah could get ready to go to a friend's house for the night. We took her over there and then ran through the carwash - when I went to my friends' house on Christmas Day, I made the mistake of taking the "wrong" dirt road to get there and ended up 4-wheeling through some massive mud holes. I figured it was time to de-mud the van. The kids love going through these stupid carwashes.

We went over to The Dude's house for a while and helped him to get some projects done around there, and came home with a few projects to work on for his mother, including repairing a headless angel and hemming some curtains. I love those kind of projects! The angel's head has been reattached, and I was going to work on the curtains tonight, but I don't think that's going to happen.

There was an amazing sunset from my front yard...

Then we started the dismantling of the kindling tree in the living room. That thing was crispy! And there was still water in the tree stand, so it's not like I let it dry out....

HELP! I've been attacked by lights!

That is one dead tree...

All gone...

The tree is out by the curb, waiting for the city to come and pick it up and take it away next week to turn it into mulch with all of the other dead trees. I still have to take down the outside lights and the garland and stuff inside, but that can wait for a day or two. It'll all get done. But the worst of it is done and over with at this point.

Tomorrow we get to get up early so that I can get the older 3 to their father's house by 9:00am, and then it's just Alex and Daniel and me for the day. Alex may or may not be going to his father's house - still don't have definite word on that because I'm always the last one to know.

I think we're all fighting some kind of stomach bug - Sarah got sick at basketball practice this morning and we were initially blaming the donuts that she inhaled on the way there. But Alex had a couple of accidents today, Daniel had some diarrhea issues, and now my stomach is starting to feel kind of icky. Hopefully whatever it is will go away tomorrow because I have a 5K to do on Sunday...

Holy crap. I just realized that tomorrow is New Years Eve. Where has this year gone?

But for now, I think I'm going to ignore the massive pile of laundry on the futon and I'm going to curl up on the couch and crash for a few hours before I get to get up and do it all over again.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Walking errands

We had an unseasonably warm day here today, with temperatures near 60 degrees. I had a few errands that needed to be run, so we decided to walk them.

We started out by heading over to the bank to get some cash, then strolled on down to the library.

Alex was all sorts of excited to get some movies to watch, until he threw a temper tantrum in the library - and I made him put his movies back on the shelf. He was not happy - but I'm tired of dealing with his attitude in public. No warning for him this time - he threw a tantrum, and he put the movies back. Period. He was the only one to walk out of the library empty-handed. Maybe one of these days he'll learn that I'm not playing around when he acts like that.

The sky was amazing when we left the library and headed to the grocery store...

We stopped at the store and picked up a few things and then came home. The kids hung out and watched movies while I made supper, then it was bath time and bed time and all of that fun stuff.

My computer decided to take a dump - more like my browser - so The Dude came over to try to fix it, but he couldn't. So now I've been demoted to using IE for facebook instead of Chrome. I'm sad. But hopefully Chrome will get over its issue and get back to working again soon.

Tomorrow was supposed to be a relaxing day, until Ex1 called to inform me that Sarah has basketball practice. In the morning. Ick. So we get to get up and stop for donuts (the kids don't know that part yet) and when we drop her off for practice the rest of us are going to go find a park to run around in since it's supposed to be nice again tomorrow. Then hopefully we can relax for the rest of the day.

But I'm sure those plans will get messed up too. I don't think that "relaxing" is in my vocabulary.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

An afternoon at the park...

It might be the end of December, but it was nice outside - and the kids have been at each others' throats ever since the older 3 walked in this morning.

So we went to the park.

We did stop to get Sarah's new glasses on the way over - we had actually stopped to get her old ones fixed, not thinking that the new ones would be in yet, but it turned out they did come in today. So that was convenient!

This is probably one of my absolute favorite pictures of her too. She's turning into such a beautiful young lady.

I amused myself while the kids were playing - tried to work out a menu for the next month and then start a grocery list. Getting money once a month is nice in that I can knock out all of the bills at one time, but it makes it harder to keep groceries on hand sometimes. So, I'm planning ahead....we'll see how well that works out.

After we got done at the playground (more like after the sun went down and I decided that I was freezing) we ran and got some pizzas and came home. The Dude came over later and had some pizza with us and we all watched a movie. He brought some ice cream and we all had that, then Daniel decided that he was done. He crawled up onto my lap, put his head in The Dude's lap, and crashed - sticky face and all.

No big plans for the next few days. I have all of the kids until Saturday morning, when the older 3 go back to their father's house. Alex may or may not be going to his father's Saturday evening - that's still up in the air. Sunday is the 5K - The Dude is going along for that one so that he can keep Daniel (and Alex if we have him) while I run.

And now, I have to do something with the mountain of laundry on my futon so that I can maybe sleep tonight. I am so tired right now, and I know that I should really fold it, but it's really tempting to just chuck it all back into the laundry bucket, crawl under my awesome blanket, and crash.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

So this is what it's supposed to be like...

The Dude and I have kind of an inside joke. We refer to it as "processing".

Let me explain.

In the past, I have been in not-so-wonderful relationships with not-so-wonderful men. There was abuse and addiction and disrespectful behavior and lies and manipulation, etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum. To me, that was normal. It's what I was accustomed to having in my significant other.

The Dude isn't like that. He'll say or do something that most people would consider to be normal - for example, take out the trash - and I give him "the look". The look mostly comes from surprise because he did it voluntarily and because he didn't complain about it, but mostly just because he did it. He didn't leave it for me to do. The first few times that he did things like this, I really had to take a step back and think about it, because no one had ever really done those kinds of things for me before, and I had to convince myself that it was ok for him to do it - I had to process that maybe, just maybe, this is the way that things are supposed to be.

Apparently, it's rather obvious to him when I do it - and he'll just say "are you processing again?" and smile. It's funny - he doesn't look at it as doing anything special, but to me, the little things like taking out the trash or stopping to get me a soda while he's out or doing the dishes while I'm busy with something else - those things are amazing. I am so grateful to him for everything that he does.

Today was a prime example - although it was way bigger than just taking out the trash or getting me a soda.

I have the Frosty 5K coming up on Sunday, and I really haven't gotten out to do any walking/jogging for about the past month. I was getting a little stressed out about it, and mentioned it to him the other day. His response?

"Let me know when you want to go run, and I'll keep the kids for you while you go."

Huh? What?

He offered to keep the kids while I went out to prepare for a 5K.

Had to process that one for quite a while.

Seriously, in any past relationship, that would not have happened. First off, I wouldn't be preparing for (another) 5K because I would have been told that I was too fat and lazy to do it (and yes, I did try before, and that's what I was told) and even if I 'defied orders' and did it anyway, there's no way that I could have done it without the kids.

Things like this - that most people would consider to be "normal" - seem strange to me. And I have to process them and think about them, and make them make sense in my head before I can 'let go' and let him help me. I'm so used to doing things on my own that actually having help is strange - and it's hard for me to let go of the control and allow him (or anyone) to help. But as time moves on, I'm beginning to realize that it's ok for him to help me. I don't have to do everything by myself anymore. I think I've finally started to realize that this is what a normal, healthy relationship is supposed to be like - and although I'm still getting used to the idea, I think I'm beginning to accept it.

So anyway, we met at a park and he kept the boys there while I took off...

It was an absolutely gorgeous day, especially for the end of December, and I did a lot of processing while I was out there by myself.

It really kind of hit me as I was out there jogging along, enjoying the peace and quiet. I've never had someone stand behind me like he does. Whether it's getting things done around the house or helping me to train for a 5K - I've never had the help from anyone like I do from him.

It is such a new concept to me - to have someone actually help and support me. But this is the way that it's supposed to be, right?

Anyway, while I was walking/jogging, the boys played and The Dude snapped some pictures...

And when I got back, we both started goofing around with them...

Now, I will admit that I did find another flaw in him today - beside the obvious one (Cowgirls fan). He does have another serious flaw. Are you ready for it?

He likes to take pictures. And he likes to get ones that may not be oh-so-flattering at times. And those pictures might be of me.

But, it's all good. I promised him that I would post them - and I have serious doubts that these will be the last ridiculous pictures of me.

For the record, I do not routinely run around making this particular face or picking at my butt. However, there was a puddle of water at the top of the slide, and although I gave it my best effort, I still landed in it. And it was cold. And wet.

I will get even with him though. I've been known to snap pictures when it is least expected. Just sayin'.