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!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Hour-a-Day April: Days 19-22

Quick, summary post, so I can get to bed.

Day 19 (Easter Saturday): Did some dishes and laundry in the morning, went to the in-laws' around noon, forgot our dresses, so I had to go out and buy us Easter dresses and shoes, made ridiculous Easter bonnets for the girls. Day off, basically.

Day 20 (Easter Sunday): Church breakfast, church, back to in-laws', family party, egg hunt, home. Another day off of HADA, basically.

What's that? You want to see the ridiculous Easter bonnets? Okay.

Day 21 (Monday): Valerie stayed home from school, because she wasn't feeling well. We had a rough day. I spent the entire day trying to clean the living room, and it literally took all. day. (It should have been a 20 minute task, but, kids.) Nothing else got done. I was supposed to go buy a van in the evening, but the guy sold it to someone else, even though I had made arrangements to come look at it. That really bummed me out. I really dislike craigslist.

Day 22 (Tuesday): My phone died in my sleep AGAIN (one more thing I need to figure out - I'll add it to the list), so I overslept, and had to rush to get Valerie to the bus. Then I sat like a lump, sure that the rest of the day was going to be a wash. But I said something about my funk on our HADA Facebook group, received some encouragement and commiseration, and found a bit of energy somewhere to spend one hour cleaning the kitchen. I thought about what is the number one thing that upsets me about the kitchen right now, and decided that it was the floor. Stepping on crumbs, tripping over bags of half-emptied groceries. So I cleaned up the floor. I brought a small shelving unit in from the porch to put pantry items on (I was hoping to move things back into the pantry soon, but a rat got back in through our hole-blocking, so I need to do a little more work before I can use my pantry as a pantry again. One the bright side, I did catch the rat. Disposing of him was one of my kitchen tasks today, too.) Then I swept and mopped (and did a thorough, furniture-moving job of it).

That didn't take an hour, but I had promised myself I would do an hour, and then I could be a bum for the rest of the day, so I washed dishes and clock watched - waiting for the very second that I could stop. But I did my hour. I probably shouldn't count it because dishes should be a daily task, but I did because I knew that, if it weren't for HADA, I wouldn't have even done that. But, as it turns out, I didn't have to count that hour after all, because a little bit later, I went back and did another hour. Then I went back and did another hour, and made yummy pizza for dinner. The kids helped me, and then they dumped shredded cheese on my clean floor, but then I swept it up right away instead of leaving it to get stepped on. Then I went back and did another hour after dinner. I can't decide whether I am more proud that I managed four hours of kitchen cleaning today, or more depressed that even after four hours, it's still not done. But the whole sink area is clean, and the cupboards are full of clean dishes, and what remains to be done doesn't look impossible anymore.

22 days down, 8 to go!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Hour-a-Day April: Days 14-18

Phew. What a week.

Day 14 (Monday): I had a doctor's appointment in the morning, and there was an uncharacteristically long wait, which put a crimp in my plans to be productive. Basically, my whole week was centered around preparing a seder for approximately 30-40 people on Thursday. My kitchen was still a mess, and I knew what I *should* do was clean the kitchen, so I could have a clean slate to destroy with my food prep. But I just couldn't make myself do it. So, I decided that accomplishing something was better than accomplishing nothing, so I went back to my bedroom, and assembled some metro shelves so that I could move Jeremy's clothes out of my closet and make some room to start sorting through more boxes of pre-pregnancy clothes. Apparently, you can buy hanger rod attachments, but since I had extra legs, I kludged one on as an extra-long hanger bar. It's a "for-now" fix that will likely become permanent, because I actually like having the extra bit for hanging longer things, like trench coats and dresses. Although if I get a properly-sized bar, I have a zip-on wardrobe cover that can go over the unit. Hmm... decisions, decisions...

Day 15 (Tuesday): Today, I knew I had to start on seder prep. But it was a rainy, horrible day, and I just couldn't get my butt in gear. The middle of HADA month is kinda the worst motivation-wise. I did some stuff, though, mostly admin-type stuff. Gathered my recipes, made my shopping list, pulled out the copies of my haggadah. I needed more copies, but I couldn't find my most up-to-date digital file, so I had to drive a hard copy in to the church secretary to make copies. I waited for a break in the rain, but it ended while I was there, and I ended up driving home in torrential rain. Both kids fell asleep on the way home, so I canceled my stop at the butcher's for chicken and brisket, and sat in the car in the rain and read my book for a bit. It was a nice reprieve, actually.

When Dorothy woke up, she was heartbroken that we hadn't stopped at the market, so we went back and got our brisket and chicken after all. We came home and I started my chicken simmering for broth. One thing checked off my list. Only about 100 more to go...

Day 16 (Wednesday): The younger two and I headed off to Downingtown after Valerie left for school, which is the closest Wegmans (and also the closest Jewish population - none of the stores around here carry things like matzah). Long list in hand, we quickly filled our cart. But I don't go to this store very often, and I don't know the layout, and the last few things on my list took FOREVER to find. I finally found everything, though, and somehow managed to fit it all in the car.

On the way home, I picked up some friends who live nearby but are currently without a vehicle. This ended up being the best decision ever, because the three-year-olds entertained each other while my friend helped me in the kitchen and corralled the babies. I got more done in the next three hours and than pretty much the rest of the week. I cooked the brisket, made the tzimmes and a potato kugel. Then I drove my friends home and picked Valerie up from the bus.

Fun diversion: A mother of middle-schoolers who waits at our bus stop had asked me earlier this week if I wanted some Geo Trax that her kids don't use anymore. I said yes, forgetting to ask the ever-important question, "How much is 'some'?" It took three of us to carry the boxes back to my house. But opening up and dumping out all of the boxes kept the kids occupied while I cooked some more, so it worked out well.

(Geo Trax haul spread out and organized by mama on Thursday)

After the kids were asleep, I enlisted Jeremy's help and we boiled the eggs and made two desserts (a chocolate nut torte and matzah baklava). I forgot to take a picture of the torte (which is very sad, because it was the most beautiful thing I made for the seder), but here is what the baklava looked like:

Day 17 (Thursday): I wished I had a friend to hang out with us today while I worked! But, I trudged through, and got it all done. Finished the charoset, the fruity kalamata glazed chicken, and made a quick trip to the store for candles, horseradish (Wegmans has been sold out), and apricot jelly to glaze my torte.

Got the car loaded up and made it to the church at a little after 4. Unloaded the car, and started up the ovens to reheat everything. Then my helpers started showing up, and I put them to work setting everything up. Everything went well, and everything tasted great.

There were, of course, tons of leftovers, but not a crumb of the chocolate torte remained, and only about 3 small slices of an 8 pound brisket. We got home after 9:30 and all three kids fell asleep in the car. Fortunately, it was cold enough overnight to leave the food in the car and unload in the morning.

Day 18 (Good Friday): Jeremy had the day off, so I slept in. I had told Valerie that she could sleep in, too, and I would drive her to school late when she got up, but I ended up letting her stay home all day. Between Passover and Good Friday, I figured it should count as a religious holiday. (She was originally supposed to have a five-day weekend this weekend, anyhow, but they took it away to make up for snow days.) When I got up, I cleaned out the fridge so I would have room for leftovers, and I unloaded the car and put all the food away. I cleaned off the table and washed a few of the biggest dishes, and put away the empty dishes from the seder that came home clean because I had awesome helpers. Then I reheated the matzah ball soup for lunch. I couldn't wake Jeremy up from his nap, and I couldn't convince either girl to come to the table, so I decided to stop fighting and enjoy a candlelit lunch by myself in peace. It was lovely.

I took a bath in the afternoon, and actually shaved my legs - a rare treat these days! Then I tried an experiment, and made a pie using softened matzot as the crust and charoset as the filling. I also made a mini version of it for us to try with dinner, and it tasted pretty good. I used more oil on the crust of the big pie, though, which I'm hoping resulted in a crispier crust.

I reheated some chicken and we had leftovers for dinner. We talked about Good Friday, and how it ties into Passover and Easter. Then I went to church by myself (another rare treat!)

We're heading to the in-laws' now, and I don't think anything more HADA-related will happen this weekend. I'm okay with that. I had planned on letting Passover take over this entire week, and I need a break. I plan to read a lot this weekend.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hour-a-Day April: Days 12 and 13

Day 12 (Saturday): Jer took the girls to an Easter egg hunt in the morning, so John Wallace and I had the house to ourselves. This is what we usually do on Saturday mornings - Daddy and the girls have an outing, and I stay home and clean during the baby's morning nap. Since cleaning on Saturday morning is my normal routine, I wasn't sure how to count it for HADA. I ultimately decided that my goal would be to spend one hour on routine tasks, and one hour on more "HADA-worthy" tasks.

I felt like I needed to use this time for something dramatic, so I tackled my much-neglected bedroom. When we moved here last year, we deliberately chose the smallest bedroom to be ours, because, let's face it, any available floor space in our bedroom just becomes littered with clothes in varying degrees of clean. I figured the less floor space we have available, the less cluttered our room would become. That said, the sea of clothes was still a bit daunting.

I put in an hour, and I was on a roll, but I forced myself to stop and eat some lunch. Then JW woke up, which put a halt to my room-cleaning project, so I moved on to laundry and dishes. I managed to squeeze in another hour of cleaning, before Jer got home and convinced me to come along to a birthday party (I wanted to send him alone with the kids so I could keep cleaning). I'm glad I went, though. It was a nice break, nice to see friends, and I had renewed energy when we got home. I threw together a casserole, stuck it in the oven to bake, and went back to work on my room. The casserole took an hour, but I had to stop to nurse the baby shortly before the timer beeped, so I think I just fell short of a second hour. I almost finished, though, which was nice. Just a few straggler items to deal with tomorrow.

After dinner, I tackled Mount Laundry. (Aside: I actually have two Mount Laundries. Mount Dirty Laundry in the laundry room, and Mount Clean Laundry on the guest room bed. Today's project was focused on Mount Clean.) I've been pretty good about folding clothes right out of the dryer, and laying hang-up clothes neatly in a pile, so it wasn't too much work to sort and put away Mount Clean, but it was about 7 loads of laundry, so it took some time. The girls helped me sort socks and hang up their dresses, too, which was nice. I think that was another hour.

Day 13 (Sunday): Early morning worship team practice, then church, then we went straight to a family birthday party. I didn't set foot inside the house until 5 p.m. And I was bone tired by the time I did. I talked to Jer, and decided that a nap was necessary if I was going to get my hour in today. So I went to bed for an hour. Ate a light dinner (since we'd had just eaten a big, birthday party lunch), then spent half an hour on dishes. Then I went up to my room and finished up the last few straggler items (which always take longer than you think they will - I think it was about 45 minutes). I sorted through the boxes of clothes that were on the floor, and set aside a couple piles for Jeremy to sort through, and one box of things I can still wear from before pregnancy. (Since I was pregnant when we moved, there are lots of pre-pregnancy clothes still in boxes. It was exciting to discover that they fit, though! Are bell-bottoms still in style?)

Bonus helper photo:

13 days down, 17 to go!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Hour-a-Day April: Days 10 and 11

Day 10: This ended up being a day off. John Wallace woke up before I fell asleep for the night, and he never really slept the rest of the night - just dozed fitfully in arms. I traded off with Jeremy for about 2 hours, and that's all the sleep I got. And then he continued to cling desperately to me, and refused to nap, all. day. long. I did get the trash to the curb (several weeks worth of trash that was stockpiled on my porch), and we managed some outdoor time in the afternoon. But mostly, the day was a total wash. I went to bed at 6, and stayed there all night.

Day 11: I wasn't too optimistic about today. Even after spending 13 hours in bed (interrupted only by one bathroom break and a few side-lying nursing sessions), I still woke up tired. I called up a friend who had said she might come over today, but she wasn't able to after all. So, I decided I would probably fail at HADA today. But somehow, I didn't. I put one foot in front of the other, and things got done. I browned 5 pounds of ground beef that needed to be used and froze it in packages for later meals. I made muffins and bread. I discarded the kefir that had died in my cupboard from neglect and started a fresh batch. I washed a few sinkfuls of dishes, and filled and ran the dishwasher. I made dinner early, because JW was giving me a few rare minutes to myself, and I figured I should seize the moment (I was making potage, which is something I could leave on the stove and reheat at dinner time). Dorothy and I scrubbed the wagon clean so that we could take it to the bus stop with us to pick up Valerie. And then, because the rain that had been threatening to come all day still hadn't showed up, I took the kids to the park for an hour and a half.

Dinner was tasty, and the girls both ate two bowls of potage. Then I pulled out some brie and crescent roll dough I had been saving for a spontaneous treat, and I made a baked brie torte for dessert. After dinner, while the girls were in the bath, I moved the laundry around (carried the clean and folded clothes up to the guest room to sort, transferred the clean, wet clothes into the dryer, brought two loads of dirty clothes down from upstairs, and started another load in the washer). All in all, it was a pretty productive day!

11 days down, 19 to go!