I’m rocking that “Galentines” thing.


I’ve never been particularly interested in Valentine’s Day – it really just feels like a non-event. Especially since I haven’t been responsible for three classroom sets of miniature cards with enclosed treats for quite a few years. My room mother days are long behind me, too – meaning no need to come up with clever heart-themed games and treats.

But I have to take some credit this year – especially as a rabid introvert with a solid case of Seasonal Affective Disorder – for being all over this “Galentines” thing I keep hearing about.

It wasn’t an intentional effort, actually. It just happened to hit me today that I was really out of touch with a couple of people I adore. So on the spur of the moment, I set up two – count ’em, two! – girl dates. One for tonight and one for next week, but I think they both count. I was even smart enough, knowing my severe shortcomings as an introvert who enjoys making plans but hates it when it’s actually time to follow through on them, to plan these outings immediately after work. If I allow myself any time to go home, I know perfectly well I’ll never drag myself back out again.

Happy Galentines Day!



Man-cold, part 2.


The Husband didn’t actually have to go to the emergency room. He did survive his man-cold (which he swore was the flu, but I seriously doubt it), and is back to work today. And he survived my wrath, mainly because he didn’t actually wake up and interact with me until he was back to behaving like a fairly normal human being.

In fact, yesterday he was up and about and running errands, because he was still to sick to go to work. I guess that was part of his recovery?

In fact, he was so back to normal last night he was up for a little joking, once I got home and went straight to bed, wiped out from a FULL DAY OF WORK WHILE HAVING A COLD.

Him: “There’s something I think you need to know.”

Me: (with little interest) “Yes?”

Him: “Yesterday while I was lying there, unable to move, I actually thought about clearing all my piles of junk out of the laundry room.”

I have to give the guy a little credit for knowing just how much a pain in the ass he is.


Man-cold leads to near death experience.


Let me tell you about my weekend.

First of all, it was the first weekend in three weeks when I didn’t need to be at work for part of Saturday, without pay. Next Saturday I get to put in four hours, unpaid. So I’m really savoring two full days of home time, family time, me time.

With the long commute to my new job, I’m so tired by the time I get home on weekdays that almost nothing gets done around the house, unless somebody else does it. And that’s pretty hit or miss. So I made the most of my two full days – laundry, floors, dusting, groceries. Managed to cover the grey roots yesterday and even got a haircut this morning (one of my most hated tasks).

I realized last night that the cold Husband has been nursing by sleeping nearly round the clock for about 60 hours (with short breaks to moan and complain) was creeping up on me, too. And yet I got up this morning, ran to Great Clips, then came home and prepped three different meals so we wouldn’t have to eat cereal for supper all week.

By 2:00 this afternoon I was about out of steam. Rested with a good book for a while, and then forced myself to get up for the last chore on my list, cleaning the downstairs bathroom. It’s the gorgeous one that our son remodeled a couple of years ago, stripping it down to nothing and completely rebuilding and replacing. His sister and I did the decorating. I don’t use that bathroom much – it’s the designated shower spot for the two males of the family. BUT I’m the one who usually cleans it, and since I started the new job that takes up so much of my weekend time, no one else has bothered to clean that super cool bathroom. It’s been slowly turning into a filthy, disgusting beast.

So I’m down there, scrubbing spider poop off the dark grey paint on the walls. (At least that’s my guess – what ARE those whitish splotches that appear under spider webs? Whatever they  are it takes a hell of a lot o scrubbing to get them off.) I turn on the vacuum to suck up weeks of hair, fuzz, and God knows what off the floor. I scoot the vacuum out into the basement family room, where the husband has been hibernating all weekend. The vacuum noise has obviously disturbed his precious slumber.

And he has the cojones to glare at me and moan as if he’d been beaten with a stick, “I would never do that to you if you were sick and sleeping.”


I’m rather proud to report that I did not ram the toilet wand up his nose, dear readers. I used my words, as all good parents say to their grumpy toddlers.

“You wouldn’t do what? Clean my filthy toilet if you were coming down with a cold? You’re right. No, you wouldn’t. And if you don’t want to wake up dead tomorrow morning, I suggest you not say one more word about me disturbing you with housework when I’m getting sick.”

Tune in tomorrow to see whether he survives the night. Right now, it’s not looking good.





When the game isn’t fun.


Circumstances have recently turned us into a five-car family. I just bought a new car. We hung onto my old car to give to our son and his fiancee – she’s moving in with us beginning this weekend until she gets a job and they find an apartment. Son has his own car. Middle daughter lives at home, so we’ve got her car. And then there’s my husband’s company van.

With an old house and a one-car garage (but, thankfully, with a double driveway),  twice a day now we engage in a really pain-in-the-ass game of Driveway Tetris.

It’s totally a first-world privilege problem, I know. And some part of me actually appreciates this daily annoyance, in that I’m hanging onto these last days of our son living at home. Soon life will change, permanently. That’s going to be difficult…painful, even.

But still, morning and evening every weekday, and sometimes more on the weekends, we have the mad driveway scramble. Who’s leaving first? Can daughter’s tiny car get out around the work van in front of it? I have to run a quick errand – should I take son’s car, or do we all go out and play Tetris?

And then I started adding another color of falling block to the game. My good friend and colleague, Kelly, lives just a few blocks away, and sometimes it makes sense – and it’s always pleasant – for us to do the long-ish commute downtown together.

Here’s what Driveway Tetris looked like this morning:

I knew Husband would be leaving early, and son always leaves for work super early. I planned to drive Kelly and myself to work today. No problem for me to pull my car out of the garage and for Kelly to slip into the driveway.

Except – ALERT! ALERT! – Husband woke up sick. Went right back to bed, practically delirious (his personal version of the “man cold” is a story for another day). No way he could move his van out of my way. What to do, what to do…

Son to the rescue! He wanted to drive my old car to work today, for reasons of his own. He was going to have to do a preliminary Tetris session before the sun even came up, to get my old car out. He’d leave all the colored blocks in a convenient order for when Kelly arrived.

Time for Kelly to show up. Daughter resorted to parking her tiny car in the YARD so Kelly could pull into the driveway without trapping the tiny car.

This particular game wasn’t significantly more difficult than it is every. Single. Day. Twice a day or more.

Once our boy and his fiancee do move out, I’ll probably look back on these days fondly. Really, I will. Every moment with him around is a treasure.

So I’m taking the good with the bad. And Driveway Tetris is really bad.

Do I look like a moron?

pexels-photo-356079.jpegDon’t answer that question.

But it’s what I asked my husband the other night at the dinner table.

We’re back to having family meals, now that our two youngest are both living at home again. I love that time to share the funny and interesting points of our days and make sure we’re all on the same page with the big and small details of a shared household.

One night this week there were a couple of minor points I needed to share, and the responses to both could have easily landed me in jail for spousal abuse. As in throttling my husband until his teeth rattled.

Exhibit A:

Me: “I’m about out of gas. We should fill up this time at Hy-Vee (our grocery store, with a gas station attached) because we have a lot of gas discount points saved up.”

Husband: “Well, you don’t want to use those points unless you’re completely out of gas. You want to get the most out of that discount.”

My reaction: Number one, DUH. I know how a discount works. Number two, he says this exact same thing every damn time I mention getting gas at Hy-Vee to use up discount points. GRRRRRRR.

Exhibit B:

Me, to daughter who shares the cooking duties with me: “We’re out of parchment paper, which is why the brussels sprouts are stuck to the bottom of the baking dish. I’ll put it on the grocery list.”

Husband: “Whoa! What list are you putting it on? You’re not going to just get that at the grocery store, are you? We can save a lot of money if we plan ahead and get it from WalMart.”

O.M.F.G. Number one, this was not a conversation he needed to be a part of. Believe me, this man has never used parchment paper in his life. Number two, we might save a few cents with that scheme, but it’s not worth the headache. We rarely go to WalMart, but we’re at the grocery store at least twice a week. Number three, this “we should buy absolutely everything at the cheapest possible outlet and in bulk, if possible” mindset is a recurring theme. Not that I’m opposed to saving money, but it’s a false economy when we have to coordinate several different lists, find time to run around town picking things up at the least expensive seller, and do without a staple while trying to find that time to do that running around.

In other words, S.T.F.U.!

Maybe we’ve been married so long I’ve run out of patience with hearing the same old tune, like a killer earworm.

Maybe it’s the intense irritation stirred up by menopausal changes – look it up, it’s a thing.

Maybe he came just a little too close to mansplaining (which was recently added to the Oxford English Dictionary, thank you very much). I put up with that crap from our “head honcho” at work all the time, so I’m quick to call it out at home.

Actually, such obnoxious comments are probably more to do with my husband than with me. He’s cranky due to some situations at work. When he’s cranky he gets critical and pissy. And then his OCD tendencies (not a rude euphemism here; it’s a true diagnosis) tend to get the better of him.

Whatever it is, there better not be any more of it tonight. Because dammit, I’m not a moron!




Can’t you smell that smell?

An interesting aspect of my new job is the surroundings I now find myself in.

In fact, that was a detail I was asked about, casually but with poorly-hidden concern, when I interviewed. The staff member who showed me around that day was familiar with the place I was leaving and knew how it compared to this place.

My prior 13 years in church ministry took place in an immaculate building in the upscale suburbs. I’d recently moved into a state-of-the-art, beautifully decorated new office just down the hall from a bright and attractive new cafe area.

Now I drive to a ninety-year-old ex-firehouse every day. The scarred paint on the walls ranges from dirty white to an off-yellow shade to a grubby grey. The upstairs floor (where my new office is) sort of waves up and down so you have to walk carefully if you want to keep your balance. Ten people or more share a one-hole bathroom. (Actually, two holes – a toilet AND a urinal in the same room. The luxury of choice.) Years of accumulated grime on most surfaces.

What my tour guide on that interview day didn’t know, though, was that I was actually thrilled to leave the pristine trappings of privilege and get out into the real world. The gleaming affluence I’d been surrounded by for so long was wearing on my nerves, as well as my conscience.

A couple of weeks after my tour, I moved in and started creating a cozy little nest for myself here in the firehouse. It’s become a gathering place for friends on staff to hang out, have lunch, or just spend a minute visiting.


Yup, that’s the fire pole.


An extra desk for the volunteer who comes in one morning a month to enter data. And what looks like a closet door is actually hiding the 20-foot shaft where the firefighters used to hang their hoses to dry.


Just below the left window: My solution to The Smells.

I love my new digs.

But there are Smells.

Not every day, mind you, but often.  Today, for example, we have a killer melange of stale cigarette smoke, overpoweringly strong men’s cologne, a touch of weed, and poo stench wafting from that communal staff restroom. This disturbing aroma originates from both volunteers and clients. How it manages to hover in the hallway outside my office door and waft into my office, I have no idea.

I’ve battled the worn-out visual enviroment with friendly decorating touches. And I fight The Smells with a plug-in wax melter and scented cubes. Pumpkin pie in the fall. Douglas fir for Christmas. Orange spice, currently.

I’m making the most of my home-away-from home.





Adventures in housecleaning.

Shopping basket with detergent bottles isolated on white

Confession: my own cleaning supplies are not this attractive and neatly arranged.

I am, by default, the main cleaner in our household.

The Husband doesn’t notice dirt OR clutter. When The Boy is home, he has the same blind eye (though, oddly, I’ve noticed he keeps his dorm bedroom and bathroom spotless. Hmmmm…) Middle regularly assists with everyday kitchen cleanup, but she’s so preoccupied by her first year of teaching that a clean, tidy environment isn’t at the top of her list.

I, on the other hand, am pathologically averse to clutter and go around tidying and putting things away every moment I’m home. Historically the actual cleaning bit has never been as important to me – until November 9, when our nation became so filthy and disgusting that I became compulsive about keeping my own, safe nest immaculate. Not joking.

So…today as I worked through my Saturday task list, I came across a couple of fascinating (?) details:


It’s a complete mystery to me how “low” can be a lower setting than “bare,” which means, presumably, “bare floor.” Is this a setting for vacuuming in a trench? Who’s doing that?

No photo for this one, and you’ll thank me:

I’d like to hand it to whatever male in our household is capable of creating pee stains clear away from the toilet, next to the baseboard. And by “it” I mean a package of antibacterial surface wipes.

Thank goodness I’m done with my compulsive cleaning for the day.

Fashion tip.

So I’ve made my first foray into the fashion world of jeggings.

For the record: A) mine do not look this good on me (Is it possible they’re not intended for middle-age moms?), B) I do like how they look with certain outfits, and C) I wouldn’t be caught dead in those heels. Actually, if I wore those heels I would end up dead. 

Things I learned about jeggings upon wearing them for the first time today:

  • Pro tip: After going to the bathroom, pull up the underwear and the jeggings SEPARATELY. Trying to do them together turns into a torture chamber nightmare and will keep you in the bathroom so long someone will send 9-1-1- in after you.
  • They serve the same **ahem** function as Spanx, but are way more comfortable, except…
  • Do not wear them on a super long day at the office. They’re fine when you’re standing up, but sitting in them for more than a couple of hours will cause your body to be painfully and ruthlessly sliced into two halves, right at the waist.
  • Peeling them off like a banana skin and then having to turn them back right-side-out is not exactly a fun activity when all you want to do is fall into bed at the end of a long day.

Hope you’ve found something useful in this little tutorial. Thank you, and good-night. 

How to torture an introvert with SAD.

Actually, much of life is torture for us introverts. And winter is always a slog for those of us with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
But last night hit all the sore points: 

  • Had to go to a meeting with people I don’t know well.
  • At 7:00 at night.
  • Which is after dark.
  • The meeting was at work, where I’d already been all day. Where shitloads of stress is giving me serious anxiety symptoms. Led by the person who is causing pretty much all the stress. 
  • Was forced to interact appropriately at a time of day when all I’m fit for is p.j.’s and my cozy bedroom with only my family around. 

As you, dear reader, reach for a Kleenex to wipe away tears of sympathy, I’ll tell you how I managed this torture session:

  • Wore sweats yesterday. Even all day at work. I can get away with sweats almost any day I want, but this time it was a deliberate nose-thumbing to the prospect of the evening meeting.
  • Put supper in the Crock Pot before I left the house this morning, to decrease evening stress.
  • Toyed with the idea of coming up with a fake excuse for missing the meeting, then righteously decided to adult like a boss and actually go. 
  • Promised myself an enormous latte on the way to work this morning as a bribe. It’s DELICIOUS.
  • Arrived at the very last second I could possibly get there and still be reasonably on time. 
  • Was the first person to leave, rather than hanging about and “visiting.” (BARF)

So. I survived. Anyone else out there have coping strategies for this sort of indignity?

Image credit: Cram Crew Blog

They’re always good for a laugh.

While hanging out quietly in the living room last night – I was reading and Middle was working on lesson plans for the week for her 6th graders – our daughter suddenly burst into laughter. She pointed to the ceiling and I saw this:

Backstory: Grandma reveres her large collection of Hummel figurines (eye roll), including a set she hangs on her Christmas tree. My SIL accidentally broke one while helping to put them away, and our son offered to repair it.

That was last weekend. So this goofy Hummel girl has been hanging from the ceiling fan for a week without our noticing.

A few texts back and forth with the son revealed that he’d hung her there while the glue dried, and then forgot about her.

Pretty great when your kids can crack you up after a week of absence, when they’re hours away.