Monday, June 25, 2012

A guilty little luxury

Today I took advantage of a little luxury I afford myself from time to time, although it's been over a year now since I indulged. I paid someone to come clean my house.

I have a friend I've known for maybe 15 years and when my children were younger and I had babies/toddlers/preschoolers, she'd come babysit once in a while for a couple hours so that I could get my writing work done in my downstairs office. A couple times she walked to the park with them. Once she was even brave enough to take them to a movie. She's a former teacher and super patient and sweet. I loved having her come over on occasion and the kids loved to have her over, too.

One day, she told me that she wasn't going to do babysitting anymore. She had started working part-time at her church doing cleaning and had started doing housecleaning. She said the pay was better than babysitting. So, I thought...hmmm...maybe I should pay her to come clean for me once in a while. It's just a few dollars more an hour than babysitting and the kids would still get to see her and it would sure help me out. And so that's what I did. She'd come over maybe once a month, sometimes a little longer than that. I'd give her the jobs I don't like to do or am not very good at. She always mops the floors and then does whatever else she can accomplish in a two hour time frame. Sometimes I give her a list like I did today and she just goes until everything is marked off or the two hours is up.

I don't know why I went so long without having her come over. Money got a little tight for a while and I always feel a bit guilty knowing that the cash could be going toward bills or groceries or gas, but I consider it money well spent. It also motivates me to get more cleaning and housework done. I can't not be doing work while she's working, so I always set off and do laundry or clean closets while she's here...sometimes organizing things or doing a task or normally wouldn't make time for. Today I cleaned out two closets and a dresser and folded and put away 3 loads of laundry. And after she left I did some more. Things are in pretty good order for the moment.

I admit it. I am a pretty lousy housekeeper. There's always a little bit of clutter around that I just get used to. Always a stack of mail on the coffee table. Always a couple magazines or newspapers in the dining room. Often a box of Legos in the corner of the living room. Many days, there are little clumps of dust bunnies that gather in a corner that I walk by over and over. I really wish I was a neat freak and lived in one of those houses that look like a museum where you don't want to touch anything or sit on any of the furniture. But, that's just not meant to be - not in a house with five kids. And on the rare occasion that things look pretty clean and organized, I don't like myself. I look at a clean room and I do not want my kids in it. I walk behind them griping at them to clean things up and put things away and I expect it done that very second. I blow up as one walks down the hall eating a muffin and leaving a trail of crumbs in his path. I don't want them to eat because I don't want to see a dirty dish in the sink. I don't want them to get dressed because I like seeing an empty hamper. I become a drill sergeant. And I'd rather not be a neat freak than a bitchy boot camp drill sergeant, so I'll just have to live with it. But it is nice to indulge once in a while and let someone else clean the floors.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Summer Bucket List

Every summer I have all these things in mind to do with the kids. Some get accomplished. Some don't. Often time gets away from me before I get to do some of the things I really want to do. I have yet to plan our summer travel, so this list is just for some nearby fun or day trips. 

So far summer is off to a nice start. The kids have only been out of school for one week. Actually, my two youngest only got two full weekdays off and then started summer enrichment classes on Monday. My 7-year-old, who really wanted to be in the "Camp Invention" class, was really bummed when the class was filled and he couldn't get in. He ended up in "Deep Sea Dive" where he's studying all about the ocean and underwater creatures. Sounds fun to me. 

My 8-year-old is in the "Summer Musical" class. He was in the same class last year. He's my ham...always singing and VERY dramatic, so it's a nice fit for him. At the end of the class, there's a play that the parents get to come an watch. They go Monday through Thursday, so I plan to pack things in on Fridays and perhaps do some afternoon activities during the week. This year I wrote it all down, so I can check things off as we go along. (I've already got a few checked off!) Some will have more than one check mark next to them, I'm sure, like trips for ice cream or to the movies. Some are free. Some are inexpensive. Some are costly. So, I know not all are going to happen, but these are all reasonable things that are either very local or within an hour or so drive. I'm hoping to at least get half way through the list of 50 items. Do you have a summer bucket list? What are some of your favorite summer activities?

Summer Bucket List

Pool visit (maybe get passes)
X                     Sand Ridge Nature Center
Zig E’s Funland
Albanese Candy Co.
Deep River Water Park
X                     Library visit
Chelberg Farm
Wicker Park Splash Pad
Calumet City Fun Center
X                     Indiana Dunes
Frozen Yogurt Express in Munster
X                     Free Movie at Lansing 8
                        Zoo (Broofield or Washington Park)
                        Picnic at a local Park
                        Kite flying
X                     Berry Picking (strawberries)
                        Downtown day via Metra train
                        Roller Skating (free passes from school)
X                     Tyler’s Tender (free kid meal from birthday club)
                        Mini Golf
                        Wihala Beach
X                     49-er Drive In
                        Berry Picking (blueberries)
                        Green Lake Aquatic Center
                        Zoa Island
X                     Cubs game
                        Splash Pad (either Homewood or Valpo – one we haven’t been to)
                        Tyler’s Tender (take report cards – 5 tokens for each A)
                        Hollywood Park
                        Car Show
                        Out for a family breakfast
                        Boat ride                     
                        Find a new park to visit
                        County fair
                        Minor league baseball game
                        Try Dairy Belle in Hammond
                        Hoosier Theatre
Try a new restaurant
                        Movie in the Park
X                     Attend a parade
                        Overnight at a campground
                        Farmer’s Market
                        Summer Concert
X                     Dairyville
                        Vintage Base Ball Game
                        Navy Pier
                        Cruise Night

Monday, June 11, 2012

Time out

Well, I haven't written a post for a couple weeks. Really, I've been quite busy. It was the end of the school year and there was a lot going on. Two of my boys had birthdays. One graduated from high school. We had a big graduation party last weekend. But more than that, I committed myself to writing a book and I hesitated a bit to sign the contract knowing it would come due at the busiest time of year for me. I kept getting nudges from the publisher and finally jumped in with that "I can do this" attitude. Usually, when I take on that attitude, I sail through. I knew it would mean things would be a bit hectic because of it, but I figured it was nothing I couldn't handle.

It's been way more work than I anticipated. I figured the advantage of being able to use digital photographs would make it so easy. In reality, it has made it 1000 times more work than when I did my last book. Photos are coming from dozens of different sources and people don't want to part with original photographs, so they e-mail them or they give me a poor quality scanned image printed on their home printer with thin paper. Then the publisher rejects them. It's just been a mess. It really has.

So, probably a quarter of the photos I was relying on using have been rejected, which means I'm back to square one and have to go back and start begging people to send me originals and on a very tight timeline. I'm frustrated and exhausted. I'm not the only one. Hubby blew up a little this morning at my neglecting everyone and everything as I've been absorbed in this project. And I know he's right. I have been neglecting so much. And I don't want to. Although I enjoy it so much being able to work at home like this, some days I think of how much easier it would be to drive to work, put in my time and come home - no strings attached. No sitting at a computer at 11 p.m. finishing up for a deadline or working on the weekend. Right now I just sooo need a break. So, I'm hoping it won't take up too much more of my time to muddle through and get this project completed so that it's something I'm proud to put my name on, not something I'm disappointed in and feel like it is not what I wanted it to represent. (And let me backtrack a little a say that I'm not saying working out of the house is easy or easier. I've done both. I know how hard it is. I just mean that working at home sometimes means you don't shut it off and punch out at the end of the day. It's ongoing. Both are difficult scenarios. Being a mom in any capacity is a difficult scenario. Period.)

And now I just want to collapse and take a break and time out to enjoy summer. By this time of year, we've usually done several trips to the pool. I haven't even bought passes yet. We've usually done some picnics by now and days at the park. There have only been a couple park stops and they were brief. I usually have our summer travel plans laid out. I haven't been able to even think about it yet. I missed all the kids end of school picnics and parties -- and I so love to go to them. I even had to give up another school activity I really loved - my weekly visits to read to my sons' classrooms.

This book project has consumed every bit of available time for weeks. I'm so over it. If it was going to yield a huge J.K. Rowling-like paycheck that would benefit my family in countless ways, I could justify all this lost time a little more. But, in reality, it's not going to be a lot. Not enough. I've sacrificed more than I planned by taking on this project. I need to get through the stretch and then take some time out. Then get absorbed back into my family and my kids and not being checked out because I've got this other big thing looming over my head. So, don't be surprised if you don't hear from me for a while. And hopefully, very soon it will be because I'm at the beach or the park and not because I'm buried in papers and photo scans and chained to my computer. When it stops being fun and feels like you're chained and weighted down, it's time for some time out. And I'm so ready for it.