Tuesday, March 31, 2015

HADA 2015: Day -2

John Wallace took it upon himself to wake me up an hour early this morning, to make sure I had time to do my daily Bible reading. Wasn't that thoughtful of him? I even had time to make oatmeal for breakfast!

It actually was really nice to be up and moving before the daily battle with my never-wants-to-get-up eldest daughter. And that battle went a bit more smoothly than usual today, because I had promised her that we would put our new betta in his tank first thing in the morning, once his water was the same temperature. I let Valerie buy lunch today, so that was one less thing to worry about, too. All in all, it was a pretty smooth morning. Then, John Wallace, determined to help me meet my goals, went down for an unprecedented morning nap, and I was able to clean the entire living room, strain the broth I had made overnight, and do two loads of laundry. Woot!

Then John Wallace woke up, we had lunch, and I started wondering whether we would have time to go shopping today after all. I had been planning to go tomorrow, but a morning nap is such a rarity, I wasn't sure what I would do if I didn't have to spend the entire afternoon wrestling an over-tired baby. I looked at the rough draft menu that our family had brainstormed the night before and tried to decide if I had time to sit down and hammer it out properly by days and make a list of what we would need for each meal. But cooperating kids are a ticking time-bomb, and ignoring them long enough to make a list seemed unwise, so I threw caution to the wind and went shopping without a list. (Aside: I pulled together the menu for the first week of April when I got home, and I think I did okay. I have enough meals for the first week, and then some, and I only went a tiny bit overboard in the beef department when I changed my mind about making burgers tonight from scratch, and bought frozen ones, but forgot to put back the fresh beef. Oh well, maybe I will just make double tacos on Tuesday, and freeze the extra until next week. Does taco meat reheat well?)

Drove to Aldi's for groceries (it's half an hour away, but worth every minute!), then to the farm for milk and eggs (and peanut butter eggs!) then home again. John Wallace fell asleep on the ride home, so I was able to unload the car uninterrupted, but he woke up before I got to put everything away. But then he shocked me, for the third time today, when he decided to help me work towards my goals by playing quietly by himself and looking out the window at the construction workers, until I was able to finish putting everything away. This task took slightly longer than it should have, because I had to clean out the fridge to make room for the new stuff. But I was able to get it done, and I even had time to fold another load of laundry and transport the folded clothes up to the clothes room!

Then I crashed. There comes a point in every day when I just can't do anymore. Today, it came at 4:30. That's a common time for it. Right when I should be getting up and making dinner. That's why crockpot days are usually better days than oven/stove days. I let myself crash on the couch for a little while (while the littles climbed on me and didn't really let me rest). Today had been pretty productive, and I hadn't really had much down time. And I had been up early, too. Then Valerie annoyed me into action at around 5, bugging me for a snack. I got up and made burgers for dinner.

After dinner, I told Jer I needed to lie down for a few minutes. I fell asleep for over an hour. I woke up to my kids banging on my door telling me it was time to come read them stories for bedtime.

(Heh, I had myself convinced that I would mostly just do list updates this year. Apparently, I have too much fun rambling on needlessly.)

I put away dinner, and made Jeremy's lunch. I filled four bins with recyclables to go to the curb tomorrow, and I can finally see the floor of my side porch! (Along with the broken glass that I never cleaned up that was the reason I fell behind on recyclables in the first place.) I have dishes soaking in the sink, and I promised myself I would go do them when I got to the point in my blog post where I was about to mention the dishes. I guess I'm there, now.

Phew, okay. I'm back. The table is cleared and wiped. The floor is swept. The high chair is wiped down. Valerie's lunch is made. The sink is empty. (The counters may still be overflowing with dishes, but at least every dish involved in preparing and/or eating tonight's dinner is clean.) It is well past my bedtime, but I just heard the dryer finish, so I'm going to fold one more load of laundry, then flop into bed.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Hour-a-Day April: Day -3

April is threatening to start out (and end (and middle)) on a very busy note, so I thought I might try to get a jump on HADA a few days early. I have been making The List. And let me tell you, it's a bit daunting. Because, in addition to this list, I will also be preparing a Passover seder for my church, celebrating Easter with my family, doing a Badge ceremony for my Girl Scout troop, having a sleepover with my Girl Scout troop, and going on an overnight Girl Scout training (wow, this really is a Girl-Scout-heavy month!)

Anyhow, I decided to post The List here on my blog this year. It's a long list. I highly doubt that I will get through it all. But it all needs to be done, so I will do my best and plug away at it. I will probably come back and edit The List as I go, as a visual reminder of my progress (or lack thereof).

Jule Ann's HADA List 2015

*do before April if possible

  • menu plan*
  • grocery shopping*
  • multi-meal prep
  • catch up on laundry*
  • catch up on dishes*
  • clutter hot spots:
    • metro shelves
    • game shelves
    • kitchen desk
    • kitchen island
    • third floor girl scout stuff
  • clean my room
  • sort outgrown/winter clothes
  • get guest room ready for Grandma*
  • sew couch cushions
  • repair broken books
  • get garden ready
  • fix roman shades
  • weather-proof kitchen door
  • make photo books
  • make measuring stick
  • purge third floor toys
  • take down Christmas lights
  • replace light bulb in hallway
  • replace smoke detector batteries
  • clean stove
    • inside
    • outside/top
    • under
  • level stove legs
  • organize/purge Valerie's kindergarten papers
  • make compost sifter
  • sift compost for garden
  • move composters
  • take out ALL the recyclables
  • clean side porch

Things to work into my everyday life:
  • eat breakfast
  • make bed
  • clean kitchen table after eating (instead of right before the next meal)
  • empty sink before bed
  • read Bible
  • go swimming (2-3x/week)
  • get on Wii Fit
  • make lunch before bed
  • prep breakfast before bed

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Hour-a-Day April 2015

Well, look at that, it's almost April already! I've been doing Hour-a-Day April for five years, now. I have almost forgotten what it's like to not do it!

For those of you new to the concept of Hour-a-Day April (HADA, for short), it's a productivity challenge that I started doing a few years ago when I realized just how much you can get done in an hour if you really put your mind to it. It might feel like trying to squeeze blood from a stone, sometimes. There really aren't any extra hours in the day, no matter how you slice it. But it's only for a month, and when it's short-term, it's easier to give a few precious minutes to making your life a bit nicer/simpler/cleaner in the long run.

My original post is here, but here are the updated rules for 2015:

Hour-a-Day April 2015 Rules

  1. Think of something that you normally have a hard time finding time for. Sewing, cleaning, painting, organizing, playing basketball, crossing things off your honey-do list, it's up to you! It can be one big project, or a bunch of little projects. I have a fairly diverse list of HADA projects this year, but a lot of my focus will be on things that I can do today that will make tomorrow better. My typical cleaning, sorting, and organizing projects all fall into that category, but I'm also looking at things like fixing the shades so they don't pop off their brackets every day when I raise and lower them. I'm also going to spend part of my hour every day doing things that I should be doing every day, already, but I'm not. Like eating breakfast.
  2. Spend an hour every day working on your chosen project(s). Set a timer and stick to it. Kids need your attention? Stop the timer and give them your attention. You have all day to squeeze in that hour, and if your kids are anything like mine, it might happen five or ten minutes at a time. But by the end of the day, make sure you've clocked that hour. Know yourself. If the best way for you to get in your hour is to get up early, get up early. If you clean best after everyone else goes to bed, skip CSI. It's only for a month.
  3. Take one day off a week. If you're religious, you may already have a set sabbath, if not, just pick a day to be your "break" day. Or don't pick a day, and let it be a floating day off, so if you miss a day, you can just say, "Oh well, that was my day off." (I tend to do this last one.)
  4. Keep others updated on your progress. Comment on this blog. Blog about it yourself, and send me the link. Join our HADA Facebook group, and come chat about what you're working on. Phone up your mom. Put a gold star on a chart.
  5. Don't give up. Missed a day? Just brush it off and get back on the proverbial horse the next day. Even if you only do half the days, that's still 15 hours more productivity than your April would have otherwise had.
  6. Don't let HADA set you back on all the stuff you normally do find time for. If you're having a hard time keeping up with the daily stuff, count some of it towards your hour (but not all of it, or the point of HADA is lost).
  7. Don't let anyone or anything steal your joy and sense of accomplishment for the things you have done. HADA isn't about becoming perfect, it's about deliberately spending an hour every day tackling the projects you rarely get to. If you did your hour today, YOU WIN. Period. It doesn't matter if someone else did two hours, or if the sink is still full of dirty dishes, or if there are still 17 more hours of organizing to do. If you managed to squeeze a whole extra hour of blood from the stone of your already-busy day, be proud of yourself.
  8. Celebrate when it's all over! If you live near me, let's go out to dinner together and order gooey chocolatey desserts. If you live far away, have your own celebration and tell me about it. Go ahead and splurge, you've earned it!

Balance

Apparently, it is trendy these days to pick a word as a theme for the year, instead of making New Year's Resolutions. I don't tend to do things simply because they are trendy, but I also try not to reject good ideas simply because they are trendy, either. So I decided to give this "word of the year" thing a try.

Yes, I know it's March. I did pick my word back in December, but I wanted to mull it over in the solitude of my own mind, first, before going public with it. Gotta be sure I really want to be there before I announce my presence of the trend bandwagon.

But, now it's March, and here I am. I have decided that I really like this "word of the year" thing.

My word for 2015 is "balance". Balance is the one thing I struggle the most with as a mom. Knowing when to be firm, and when to be gentle. When to wash the dishes and when to read a story. When to cook healthy meals and when to have a treat.

I want to be perfect. But I don't think you can be "perfect" at being balanced. Inherent in the concept of balance is finding a middle ground between two extremes. Maybe you could do one of the extremes perfectly, but finding the middle is a continuous process of constantly weighing shifting winds. And when you live in a house with three adorable tornadoes, those winds shift a LOT.

Everything in my life seems to come down to balance these days. Maybe it's just that I'm looking for it, now, because it's my "word", but it really does feel that way. I tried to keep my living room clean for a whole week, recently. And one day, as I was putting the same toy away for the seventh time that day, I threw my arms up and said, "Forget it!" My kids need a clean living room to play. They dance more when they have a clear space to dance in. They fight less when they don't have to trip over things. Toys get more use when they are in the places they belong. But following my kids around and trying to keep it constantly clean was exhausting, inefficient, and pointless. So I'm looking for that balance. How often do I need to put the toys away in order to keep the room clean enough to be a healthy play space? Once a day? A few times a day? Before each meal? I haven't nailed it yet, but I'm getting closer. Balance.

(Yes, I know my kids should be cleaning up after themselves. They are, to a certain extent, but they are still young, and they need help. We're working on it. If I don't give them enough help/direction, they get frustrated and overwhelmed, but if I do it all myself, they start to think they don't have to do it. They do need to see me do it to model the proper methods, but they also need to try things for themselves. Looking for that perfect balance here, too.)

It is almost April, and I am starting to get excited about doing Hour-a-Day April again. And HADA is all about balance. Finding the time to work on long-term goals, while still meeting short-term goals. Finding the time to work on deep-cleaning projects without neglecting the daily upkeep. Balance.

I will put up a more HADA-focused post soon, but I wanted to get a few of these jumbled thoughts about balance out there first, because I will inevitably be seeing the "balance" thread running through everything I do for HADA, and I might start to sound like a broken record. Now you'll know why.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What’s Wrong With My Bootstraps?

We, as a society, have come a long way in accepting depression as a “real” illness. I think most of us are willing to admit that depressed people can’t just “snap out of it”. At least in theory, anyhow. But I think most of us still see depression as something like a stomach virus: Yeah, it sucks for a little while, but once you puke it all out, you’ll feel better, and then you’ll be normal again. But it’s really more like diabetes: It’s always there, and you can keep it in check by treating the symptoms and watching your diet, but you don’t just get diabetes out of your system.

This winter was long and dreary. It finally pushed me to the point where I was willing to go to a psychiatrist. I was expecting a diagnosis of postpartum depression, but the doctor’s questions led him to believe that my depression was much more deep-rooted than that, and I ended up with a diagnosis of major depressive disorder. The drugs took a long time to have any effect at all, and once they did finally start to do something, it didn’t seem like much. It was kinda like I was used to functioning at 4, and the winter funk dropped me down to a 2, and the drugs bumped me back up to a 4 again, where I was hoping for a 10. Or at least a 5 or 6. Maybe I could have changed drugs or tried something else. But one day, the pharmacy was back-ordered on my medication, and by the time they filled my prescription, I had already missed enough doses that I just said, “Screw it,” and went off the meds entirely. In the meantime, I had been diagnosed (by a different doctor) with a vitamin D deficiency, and the D had made more of a difference in my mood than the anti-depressants ever had. I guess I always thought anti-depressants were some kind of cure for depression, but they aren't. They just make you a bit less likely to curl up in a ball instead of getting out of bed in the morning. They don't fix anything - at least, they didn't for me.

I still struggle every day. Not like I used to, but it’s still a struggle. And I am discovering, more and more, that nothing I do is ever enough. Nothing. No matter how hard I try, I can’t make myself be the person I want to be. One day, I might succeed in the cooking department, and fail in the dishes. Succeed in the deep cleaning, but fail at the surface cleaning. Do something fun or educational with the kids, but lose my temper and yell at them. Make a cool craft, then overdraw the bank account trying to get groceries. Get everyone to regular doctor’s appointments, but forget about the dentist.

I try not to compare myself to others, but I can’t help it. I look around and see other moms who are capable of making a nice dinner without running out of steam and leaving all of the dishes until the next morning (or the next week). And I try a little bit harder, and push myself a little bit more, but I still always fall short. And I have realized that, while I might be willing to admit that other people with depression have a real illness, when it comes to ME, all I see is failure. I tug and tug and become convinced that my bootstraps are broken.

But maybe my boots are just stuck in the mud.

Well-meaning people give me advice all the time about what I need to do to keep up with things.
“If you just do the dishes right away, they won’t pile up like that.”
“Make the kids put their own toys away.”
“If you just wake up before everyone else, you’ll have plenty of time to get things done.”

I have a disproportionate, visceral reaction to unsolicited advice. It’s like a punch in the gut to me. I try not to say anything, because I know it’s an unfair reaction to well-meaning suggestions. I know people love me and are just trying to help. But what people don’t realize is that I am already telling myself these things NON-STOP. Literally. I don’t think an hour of my life goes by without me beating myself up about something that I should be doing better at least twice. Usually more. I’m a smart cookie. I know what I should be doing. I have clever tricks for almost everything. But none of my clever tricks can make me not-depressed. And even my cleverest tricks get bogged down in the mud.

The mud is the bit no one seems to talk about. Let’s just imagine, for the sake of argument, that my depression magically disappeared as soon as my vitamin D levels improved. (Hey, maybe it will! My numbers are still on the low side, let’s pretend that’s possible.) Let’s say I woke up this morning completely not-depressed. Here’s the problem: I’m still stuck in the mud.

Okay, so what’s the mud?

1. Backlog

Okay, so I’m magically not-depressed. And I have enough energy to cook three meals a day, entertain three children, wash all the dishes and the dirty clothes, weed the garden, go grocery shopping, and do whatever else I need to do. But the fact is that the dirty dishes are already piled up. The living floor is already cluttered. We’re not looking at just daily maintenance. There is so much catch-up to do, it would make even the most not-depressed person waver in their determination (and we have already established that this is not me). And, let’s say I do catch up on all the visible, daily stuff like dishes and laundry and vacuuming. There is still the deep backlog to deal with. Outgrown clothes that need to be sorted/purged. A fix-it box full of damaged clothes and toys. At least 20 boxes of miscellaneous papers that are probably 99% trash, but need to be sorted through just in case they happen to contain something like a college diploma. Years of photos that need to be sorted and put into albums. And, let’s not forget, I am expected to deal with all of this backlog AND the daily upkeep stuff, too.

2. Bad Habits

I’ve been a functional depressed person for some indeterminate percentage of my life. Probably more than half of it. I have survived most of that time with clever coping mechanisms. Ways of tricking my depressed self into getting out of bed in the morning. Washing a couple dishes, because some is better than none. Moving clutter to boxes because out of sight is out of mind. Stacking the older dirty dishes on the floor so I can at least wash this meal’s dishes. Getting out of the house and doing fun things to forget about the mess at home. I can’t begrudge the coping mechanisms the gift they have given me: The gift of getting through one more day. But many of them have become ingrained habits. And habits are hard to break. And all of those coping mechanisms have ultimately just piled more backlog into the mud pit.

3. Precedent

I do tell my kids to pick up their own toys. But where do the toys go? First I need to organize the toys and give them storage spaces. Then I need to demonstrate putting the toys away, at least a few times, so that they learn how to do it. Then I need to be consistent about requiring them to be put away after every use, so that my kids don’t get bogged down in the backlog themselves. If you’re a kid who has spent your entire life stepping over scattered toys, and cleaning up only when company is coming, it’s hard to wrap your mind around the idea that you should put your toys away right away, every time.

It’s not just the kids, either. My husband leaves his socks lying on the floor. Because he always has, and I always just gather them up and wash them whenever I get around to cleaning the living room. And, the other day, he piled the dirty dishes on the floor so he could clear the table, because he has seen me pile the dirty dishes on the floor. But the next day, as my very-mobile baby was crawling around the kitchen knocking over piles of dirty dishes, I cursed the precedent I had set. Yes, I put the dishes on the floor myself sometimes. But not because I want them there. I put them there as a coping mechanism, so that I can see a clean table and feel like we have a nice place to eat dinner, or so that I can access the sink to drain spaghetti. But when I put the dishes on the floor, I am fully aware that I am screwing over my future self in favor of surviving the present. That’s what coping mechanisms do. But the next thing you know, not only have you made more work for yourself in the future, but you have somehow set a precedent that the floor is an acceptable place to stack dirty dishes.

4. The Edge of Depression

As if all this wasn’t enough, you’re still not totally better. You’re still teetering on the edge of depression. Some days you wake up with tons of energy, and you can actually do it! You can do all the daily upkeep stuff, and pick away at some of the backlog to boot! You’re on top of the world! But some days you’re not. Some days you only have energy for one or the other, so the backlog grows in one room even while it’s shrinking in another. Or maybe you don’t even have that much energy. Maybe you fall back into your coping mechanisms by necessity rather than habit. Maybe you get sick, or overdo it at the beach, and need some downtime. Maybe you say something on Facebook, which you meant to be playful, but it had a bit too much truth in it, and now you are sitting in a heap, sucker-punched by all the helpful advice flying your way, feeling worthless and useless all over again. It doesn’t take much, when you’re walking the edge, to slip in. And sometimes, it’s easier to just sink into the mud again rather than to keep fighting your way out.

Even as I write this, I want to slap myself for making excuses. That’s how deeply ingrained the whole bootstrap mentality is for me. Even as I try to explain to the world how real my depression is, and how much it affects my daily life, I am mentally discounting all of it, and scolding myself for taking the time to write this instead of getting off my butt and washing some dishes. Because some days, refusing to admit that I’m depressed is one of my coping mechanisms, and some days it actually works. Some days I can trick myself into being a normal, functional mom. But that just makes the hard days that much harder.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sometimes I Run Out of Milk

My daughter asked for a glass of milk this morning, and I sadly poured the last of the milk into her cup, wondering what I would put in my coffee this morning. I have several "out of milk" options that I use when this situation arises, but I am out of both hot chocolate mix and ice cream. Then I remembered the box of powdered milk that I picked up on a whim the other day. I pretty much only ever use it for coffee, and I keep forgetting that it's there, but the last time I used it for my coffee, I made an accidentally awesome discovery: It makes BEAUTIFUL cappuccinos! I'm no food photographer, but I snapped some pics with my cell phone this time, because the internet demands photographic evidence of everything.

Step One:

Make some coffee. You'll need about a cup. Save a dish and brew it directly into a mason jar.

Step Two:

Add 1/3 cup powdered milk to your coffee in a quart-sized mason jar.

Step Three:

Put a lid on the mason jar and shake it up for about a minute. You'll want to use a canning lid, not a storage lid, or it will leak. Hold the jar with a towel or pot holders so you don't burn your hands.

Step Four:

Transfer to a mug, and enjoy! Or, just drink it straight out of the mason jar, if you want to save another dish.

Note: I also make mason jar lattes in a similar fashion with real milk, instead of powdered. Just put about 1/2 cup milk in the jar, heat it in the microwave, shake it, then pour it over 1/2 cup of extra-strong coffee. It doesn't foam up quite as much as the powdered milk, but it's still impressive for not using any specialized, coffee-shop machines. No pics of that, though, since I have no milk today.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Hour-a-Day April: Days 30-31

Day 30 (Wednesday): Day off. I know, I know, taking the day off on the last day of the month is pretty lame. But I wasn't feeling well, and I was due. I'll make up for it by pretending April has more than 30 days.

Day 31 (Thursday): I had a mommy group in the morning, and it was a potluck, so I baked some bread in the morning to bring. I also ran some errands on the way home. Then, determined to cross at least one home decor project off my HADA list, I installed a piece of pegboard to use as a reconfigurable photo wall in an awkward space between two doorways. It wasn't exactly a major project, but it did take about 2 hours, because I wanted it to be nice and sturdy. Ultimately, I would like it to be crowded with pictures, so you can barely see the holes, but that can happen later. That's the beauty of a pegboard - nothing is set in stone, and you can always change it up later just by repositioning the hooks. I still have three more scrap pieces of pegboard from my third floor babyproofing project - I wonder how many more I can install before April is over?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Hour-a-Day April: Days 26-29

These past four days have been a busy blur. I'm not going to even try to split them up and give them each their own paragraph. Suffice it to say that I put in my four hours, and then some, between these four days.

In semi-chronological order:

  • came down with a nasty cold
  • spent the morning holding a clingy baby
  • took Valerie to a birthday party
  • looked at a van we wanted to buy
  • dug up the side garden for planting
  • held a clingy baby some more
  • worked on the kitchen
  • cleaned off some of the cluttered surfaces in the kitchen
  • planted some seeds
  • cleaned up the porch
  • made ice cream
  • worked on the kitchen
  • held a clingy baby
  • went to a play date
  • went to the bank
  • spent over an hour on the phone figuring out new car insurance
  • bought a van
  • re-did the bathroom window privacy art with some cool new window markers
  • re-re-did the bathroom window privacy art with regular window crayons when a hot shower completely erased the new markers
  • cleaned and organized the craft corner (and threw out a whole trash bag full of old artwork and ruined supplies)
  • cleaned the appliance island
  • washed some more dishes
  • held a clingy baby a bit more when he fell and split his lip
  • (still feeling sick, by the way - just about coughed up a lung)
  • finished cleaning the kitchen! (just one shelf left to de-clutter)
  • fed the family a tasty dinner
  • washed every single dish as soon as we were done eating dinner
  • took a doorknob off our bedroom door to rescue Dorothy, who had locked herself in there
  • when that didn't work, climbed out onto the roof from the peaceful room window, and climbed across the roof in the rain to our bedroom window so that I could unlock it from the inside

Phew.

But my kitchen is actually clean right now! Woohoo! I didn't really take a "before" picture, since it's been an ongoing project, but I might have an older photo somewhere that will give you a general idea of the pre-April state of the kitchen.

Ah, here we go, this is pretty close:

Table set for dinner tonight:

Craft corner (notice how the craft table is *not* covered in towering piles of dirty dishes?):

I can't believe there's only one day left in April! My HADA list has barely been touched, although I am really really happy to have at least crossed the kitchen off. Losing basically a whole week to Passover and Easter really hurt. Maybe I'll pretend April has a few extra days in it again this year...

Bonus Feature:

This is my "bathroom window privacy art." Which is really just a fancy way of saying, "I'm too cheap to buy fancy window treatments for my bathroom so I just draw on the window myself." And I use the word "art" very, very loosely.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Hour-a-Day April: Day 25

I was going to tackle the garden first thing this morning, but it was cold outside, and my baby was being very clingy, so I ended up spending most of the morning holding him. But once I got him down for a nap, it was GO time. I clock-watched for 30 minutes of dishes, which allowed me to empty the sink, fill the dishwasher, and fill/refill the dish drainer a few times. Then I turned on the dishwasher, and went outside to dig in the garden. I finished digging up the side section of the front yard, which has a little stone path, and was basically just overrun with weeds last year, that we weed-whacked occasionally to a lawn-like length. I put up a little wire fence, and transplanted our lettuce seedlings. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to water the seedlings recently, so they were pretty wilty. I gave them a good soaking, and it's supposed to rain tonight, so hopefully they will perk back up.

The kids were much less cooperative today. Dorothy kept getting freaked out by the wind, and when I was bringing the lettuce outside, she uprooted one of the spare tomato seedlings to "help" me, and she changed her outfit completely twice, which means that there's a decent chance a urine-soaked dress is waiting somewhere for me to find it. John Wallace woke up from his nap, and he was less willing to stay in his play house today. He kept crawling to the edge of the porch, and putting things in his mouth, and at one point, he tried to combine the two activities, and did a face plant off the side into the dirt. Then I decided, a bit too late, to bring the exersaucer out to the porch to keep him contained for a bit. It sorta-kinda worked, at least long enough for me to finish the lettuce. Not wanting to feel left out*, Valerie cut a hole in a screen window when she got home from school.
*I'm only guessing at her motivation.

I ordered pizza for dinner. I left this post unfinished all evening, hoping to go back and do some more dishes, but it didn't happen. Oh well, tomorrow, then.

Hour-a-Day April: Days 23-24

Day 23 (Wednesday): I actually didn't time myself today, but every time I was in the kitchen, I washed a couple more dishes, and I made decent progress. I also made bread and muffins and dinner, and folded some laundry. Then Jeremy had to work late, so the evening was kinda just spent in survival mode. Nothing spectacular, but a pretty good day. If all days could be like this, I would at least keep my head above water.

Day 24 (Thursday): A friend came over in the morning, which was a nice treat. We chatted while the kids played, and we prayed for each other. We talked about my HADA projects, and she said something along the lines of, "It's nice to get things like that done, but the trouble is keeping up with it every day." Which is totally right, in a way, but it got me thinking a bit. Is HADA a waste of time? Is it worth the time/effort/energy to try to catch up (and even, dare I dream, get ahead?) when two weeks later, the laundry is all backed up again, and the sink is full of dishes again, and someone dumped a bag of cheese on your clean kitchen floor? But I think the answer is yes. (Or no. Darn, I should have asked two questions with the same answer.) Yes, it's worth it, no it isn't a waste of time. It's worth getting to the bottom of the laundry pile, even if it's only once a year, so you can find that sock that's been missing for months. It's worth organizing your closet, even if it's only once a year, because maybe you'll find some clothes you had forgotten about, and maybe, for a little while at least, you can get dressed in the morning without having to dig through a pile on the floor to find the least-wrinkliest shirt. It's worth cleaning under the appliances, even if it's only once a year, because maybe, just maybe, you'll find the source of that mystery smell. HADA won't magically make me into one of those people whose house is always spotless. But, accepting who I am, it gives me the chance to get to the bottom of things once in a while, even if it's only once a year. And it's a nice reminder of how much I can get done when I put my mind to it, and how much can be accomplished in just one hour.

My friend answered some of my gardening questions, and I felt inspired to do some digging after she left. I am a total gardening n00b, but I figure, if I keep doing stuff, something is bound to work eventually. So, I dug up all of the scattered grape hyacinths and moved them all to the front row (where they will probably die, but at least I tried, and maybe they will be in a sorta line next spring). I dug up all the sprouts that looked kinda like sunflower sprouts, and made a little circle with them in the middle of the garden, around the shepherd's hook that holds the bird feeder (hence the volunteer sunflower sprouts). Then I planted some carrots and some swiss chard. I started digging up an especially rocky section of garden that I hadn't done anything with last year, but I didn't quite finish. I made a little wall of rocks under the edge of the porch. Maybe, if I find enough rocks, I will succeed in blocking off one of the rats' possible entrances. (Probably not.)

Dorothy helped off and on, and John Wallace played pretty happily in his play house for a long time. When Valerie got home from school, we transplanted four of our tomato seedlings to our outdoor pots. Not sure what we'll do with the other eight, yet. Jer had to work late again, but I got dinner together, and left him with all three kids when he got home so I could run to the store for a few more gardening things I wanted. I might not have much of a green thumb, but it is fun to try and create life and food from seeds and dirt.

24 days down, less than a week to go!