Friday, December 21, 2012

Seven Quick Christmas Takes

--- 1 ---

Matthew's adoption is FINALLY finalized! It took place over the phone (because it had to be finalized by a judge in the state in which he was born, but my parents weren't keen on driving all the way back there), so my parents' end of the call had to be witnessed by a notary, so they drove down to their insurance agent's office. I drove up and got to have lunch with them and witness the finalization and still get home in time to pick Scott up from the bus stop.

Anyway. We're very happy.

--- 2 ---

As of about two days ago, I was totally freaking out about Christmas presents. I had presents for my mom and siblings but none for anyone else, and there are a lot of anyone elses.

On Wednesday night, Scott spent ages on the phone with his family having a long back-and-forth discussion about what all his younger siblings wanted for Christmas. I eavesdropped on his end and opened up tabs on my browser as I heard him mention things, so once he got off the phone I'm like, "Okay, want me to click 'Order'?" So now we have a group gift for his siblings on the way. We still don't have anything for his parents, but they decided they want an Epiphany gift rather than a Christmas gift, so I'm not stressing.

Oh, and I got my dad a present while I was out shopping on Thursday.

--- 3 ---

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Scott's mom had to have gallbladder surgery a few days after she found out her brother had brain cancer. She is apparently recovering well, since she was able to fly out and be with him for the last week or so. She's coming back the day after Christmas, which is one of the reasons the holiday celebrations on that side are probably getting deferred to Epiphany.

Anyway, prayers for her and her brother and for safe travels and non-delayed flights and all that would still be appreciated.

--- 4 ---

I just remembered that THREE members of Scott's immediate family have birthdays in the next 9 days. I need to drag him out to select birthday cards...

--- 5 ---

Scott's paternal grandparents are basically the most adorable couple ever. (The other set died long before either of us was born, so I don't know if they were likewise adorable.) For the last two Christmases (and remember I've only been married 13 months), they've sent me my own personal Christmas card, with money inside, signed, "Love, Grandma and Grandpa [Cobbler]." Scott gets a separate but equal card.

My grandma just sent us one card, but she was not ungenerous with her enclosure either. I think she gets the "most adorable widow ever" prize.

(Please note that I don't think money = love, but I thought it worth mentioning that I'm a 23-year-old grandchild-in-law and I STILL get money.)

--- 6 ---

Speaking of money, I went out yesterday (to a million stores, in the cold, cold rain...) and got all the food I need for the rest of the month. My total grocery spending for December? $173.69.

I think I've been sticking pretty well to the budget even without my weekly spending updates, don't you?

--- 7 ---

I was just thinking about how I'm going to be happy to have Scott home for 4 days in a row after this evening, and remembered that I never told y'all that his contract got extended! As much as I like having him around, it'll be nice for him to still be employed after the New Year.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A week in Post-it notes

Since this is my blog and I can post whatever incredibly boring thing I want to post, I decided a couple of weeks ago to post what a "typical" week looks like for me chore-wise. By "typical" I mean that I wasn't traveling or anything this week. I probably did more chores than I typically do simply because I wanted this post to look more impressive. It's like the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, but with dishwashers.

I called it "A week in Post-it notes" because I like to write to-do lists on Post-it notes, but then I ended up writing everything here instead, so the title is a misnomer but I'm leaving it anyway.

Please note that this recounting doesn't include getting my husband out the door in the mornings (which involves packing his lunch, heating up his breakfast, and driving him to the bus stop), or fixing my own little meals of leftovers or toast or whatever, or basic personal hygiene. I promise I showered at least a few times.

Monday, December 10:

- I washed and dried laundry, which took 2 hours or so altogether but only required about 15 minutes of concentrated effort. I don't sort my clothes or anything fancy like that.

- I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, which probably took about 20 minutes.

- I made two batches of fudge, which took almost the whole day altogether and at least a couple hours of concentrated effort--I was endeavoring to make the fudge gluten-free so my brother-in-law can eat it, which required much washing of pans and things to make sure they were not contaminated. Then each batch of fudge takes about 20 minutes to cook and requires near-constant attention. Then it takes some time to cut up the chilled fudge and store it away in baggies.

- I bagged up the kitchen trash and set it by the door to be taken out to the dumpster at some point. This only took a couple of minutes, but trash is really gross so I have to steel myself to touch it.

- I made chicken and pasta for chicken carbonara. This took 3 hours altogether but only perhaps 20-30 minutes of concentrated effort...checking on them as they cooked, cutting up the chicken, that sort of thing. Scott made the bacony stuff for the carbona. He volunteered, and I was tired, so I let him.

- I worked on balancing the budget. Scott helped with this too. I think I worked on this very inattentively for 30 or 40 minutes...I was Skyping at least one other person the whole time. (One other person besides Scott, who sends me numbers from his paychecks which I copy-paste into the spreadsheet).

Tuesday, December 11:

- I put away all the laundry I'd done the day before, which took 50 minutes altogether but only about 25 of actual work. I am not a fan of folding laundry.

- I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher TWICE (two batches of fudge and a batch of chicken carbonara produce a lot of dishes), which took probably 10-15 minutes both times. The second time it was only half-full of dirty dishes, so at least I didn't have to run it twice.

- I washed all the dishes that couldn't go in the dishwasher. I don't know how long this took; I worked on it very lazily for a couple of hours, with much wandering off to do other things.

- I made a batch of egg muffins (with BACON instead of sausage), which takes about half an hour of prep and 30-40 minutes of baking.

- I took out the kitchen trash and a milk jug that was sitting by the door since forever. I did this on the way to get Scott from the bus stop, so it took about 10 seconds of extra walking and 2 seconds of lifting the dumpster lid and chucking the stuff in.

- I made a grocery list, which took 3 hours of very halfhearted effort. Maybe quarterhearted effort. Usually I make this on Wednesday and shop on Thursday, but I wanted to go to Wal-Mart while I was going to the library because they're in the same direction, and I always go to the library on Wednesdays.

Wednesday, December 12:

- It was 21 degrees when I dropped Scott off, so I went into my closet and switched out my short-sleeved shirts for long-sleeved shirts. This took only 15 minutes and did not require very much heavy lifting. I was surprised.

- I put dishes into the dishwasher throughout the day and finally ran it after dinner. I also partially scrubbed out the muffin tin from the egg muffins aforementioned. I hate scrubbing muffin tins, but muffin papers stick so dreadfully.

- I bagged up the kitchen trash AND the bathroom trash. Usually I do not have the psychological stamina for two bags of trash in one day. See, I have OCD. Some people with OCD are kind of germophobic, which I am not at all. But I do have this visceral tendency to view certain things as Contaminated. Trash is one of those things. I'm not afraid of getting sick from the germs. Just, if something is classed as "trash" by my brain I don't want to touch it or even come near it because that way lies uncleanness.

I did not take them out to the dumpster. I'm not that brave with my trash-touching.

- I went out to Wal-Mart and got the car's tires filled with air (for free!) and bought some stuff. Laundry detergent and things like that.

- I went to Aldi and got a bunch of food. An old lady scolded me in a friendly way for not wearing a coat. (Really, it was adorable.)

- I went to the library and dropped off a book that was due and picked up a reserve that had just come in that very day and browsed a little bit in the hopes of finding an interesting movie to watch with my husband. I was not successful in that last thing.

The last three points were all the same trip, but I list them separately so it seems like I did more.

- I had a migraine. This isn't very productive, but it took up a good portion of the afternoon, so it totally goes on the list. (Tylenol is magical, by the way.)

- I put all the groceries away.

- I made chili and cornbread, all by myself because Scott was tired. I was tired too, but I didn't feel like playing the who's-more-tired game, so I just made dinner my own self. Like a boss.

- I took the package of chicken breasts out of the fridge where I had put it in the hopes of making my husband deal with it. (Raw chicken is also Contaminated, in case you are curious.) And I dealt with it myself. Also like a boss.

- I helped my husband sign up for a free trial membership of Amazon Prime so we can procrastinate more in buying Christmas presents.

- In spite of much dithering, I managed to order Christmas presents for my mom and baby brother using Amazon. Mom's didn't have Amazon Prime shipping because the non-Prime listing was a better deal even with added shipping.

Thursday, December 13:

- I made cinnamon rolls, because it was St. Lucy's feast day and cinnamon rolls are totally Swedish, right? This took the whole morning, but I did other things while the rolls are rising and stuff.

- I cleaned my ears out with peroxide. This takes a while, so it goes up a level from "basic personal hygiene" to "chore."

- I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher. This never ends, people.

- I cleaned the toaster oven, because it is annoying when you go to make toast and smoke comes out from all the gunk on the bottom.

- I went out to Kroger and Meijer and Aldi for groceries that I didn't get on Wednesday. (I went to The Other Aldi on Wednesday and they didn't have the right variety of bacon and stuff, so I went to my usual Aldi while I was at Meijer anyway.) I only had a few things to get at each store, so it didn't take long.

- I went to Target (it's right next to my usual Aldi) and get Christmas gifts for my sisters. I used a gift card left over from my wedding to pay for them.

- I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher. AGAIN. It took longer than usual because I finished scrubbing the muffin tin and scrubbed the chili pot. I did not run it, because it was not quite full.

- I cleaned out the inside of the microwave, which was NASTY. It's my own fault for letting it go so long, but I still rewarded myself with a cinnamon roll.

- I STILL had a migraine. Tylenol was less magical than on Wednesday. Blah.

Friday, December 14:

- I cleaned a spot on my wedding dress to make sure the detergent Mari recommended wouldn't hurt it. (Mari made the dress, so she should know.) It didn't. Now I have to hand-wash the entire train and then figure out some more permanent way of storing this thing than "stuffed in a bag in the corner of my closet."

- I made two batches of fudge. The same notes from Monday apply.

- I cooked salmon a couple of times for eating. Including once for Scott.

- I took out a couple bags of trash that were sitting by the front door. There were two others, because on Thursday night Scott bagged up the kitchen trash AGAIN, but I didn't take those out because I can only carry so many.

- I finished loading up the dishwasher and started it.

- I felt generally run-down and awful, but less migrainey, so yay? (I felt better the next day, so I have no idea what my problem is.)


- I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher. This seems to be the one thing I manage to hit every day, possibly because my kitchen is claustrophobically tiny even without dirty dishes in it.

- I handwashed all handwashables. I do not do this every day; usually I wait until we run out of steak knives. Then it looks like I'm preparing some kind of arsenal when I wash them and line them up on a towel to dry.

- I made my final batch of fudge for the 2012 baking season, which didn't turn out as well as I would have liked because I was tired and went to take a nap and then had to rush to cook the fudge so that I could take a 10-minute shower so that we could get out the door.

- I went to Confession and Mass, as did my husband. There's got to be some extra work-of-mercy points for taking your non-driving spouse to Confession, right? (I go way more often than I would without him, because he's so pitiful when he asks to please be driven to Confession that I can't resist.) We skidded in at 4:10 and were both shriven by 4:20, in plenty of time for 4:30 Mass. So I felt especially bad for yelling at my husband because I was running late. (I yell at him when it's his fault we're running late and when it's my fault we're running late. This is why I need Confession, y'all.)

- I made calzones for dinner, but it took forever because I didn't have time to start the dough before we left for church. I yelled at my husband again (because I was hungry and he was there). So much for Confession.

- I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher again. I don't know if I ran it this time because I am polishing this post on Tuesday night and my notes don't tell me.


- I put together a cute little thing of fudge so we could go to a volunteer appreciation party at the church where Scott does most of his Schola stuff. When we went there in the afternoon, the doors were all locked and nobody was there but one other Schola family. We wandered around for half an hour chatting with the other family and then went home. Now there is an artful container of fudge in my fridge, instead of a non-artful container in my freezer, so I am thoroughly off the giving-up-sweets-for-Advent wagon. At least I am eating fewer sweets than I normally do in Advent.

- I vacuumed the living room, which was really pointless because our fake tree shed fake needles everywhere not 5 minutes later.

- I moved the furniture around and got out our fake tree, which had been put in the closet in such a way that it could be pulled out easily. I was very pleased with my younger self. Then I sat and watched while Scott put the tree together. I would have helped, but he seemed to have it under control.

My family's tradition is to assemble and decorate the tree on Gaudete Sunday. Last year, Scott and I were too tired to decorate by the time we got the tree up (I can't remember why it was harder last year), so we put off decorating until Christmas Eve. This year we are doing that again just because it worked out pretty well last year. So apparently we have a tradition of our very own already, after 13 months of marriage.


So, that's my week. You might notice a sad lack of, you know, CLEANING THINGS. Let's pretend that normally I clean all the things and I was just busy with fudge-making this particular week.

Feel free to comment and tell me that you have 5 kids and do way more chores than I do. Or feel free to comment that you have 5 kids and do way less than I do but feel better about it now that I've set the bar so low. (I mean, if an unemployed, childless woman in a 600-square-foot apartment can't keep things clean, why should you?)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Seven Quick December takes

--- 1 ---

I am currently freaking out about the Holy Day of Obligation tomorrow, because freaking out about things is my full-time job. See, our usual parish has a nice convenient vigil Mass tonight, so I was all, "Oh, we can go to that."

Except Scott is singing at First Friday Mass at a different parish, so we kind of can't.

My mother and two random college friends (on Facebook) say that the readings from the Mass you attend have to be the readings from the feast for the Mass to count. Fr. Z and Ed Peters disagree, but I don't know them; they could be some dude in his mother's basement posting about canon law for giggles. (They're probably totally the same person and Fr. Z just disagrees with Dr. Peters' interpretation of another point to maintain the ruse.)

--- 2 ---

Something that was debated on my Facebook wall earlier this week: Does four children count as a "big family"?

It'd be kind of cool if it did; I've always wanted to come from a big family.

Anyway, my favorite answer was from my friend Mari (herself the eldest of four children) who said:

No. You come from an ambiguously medium-sized family that seems sprawling to some and pathetically small to others. Everyone will either wonder why there are so many kids, or why there aren't a lot more. No one understands you and you will be marginalized FOREVER.

--- 3 ---

Last week, Mom and Teresa were at the library (probably Matthew was along too, but he doesn't feature in the story). Mom was doing her own thing while Teresa played board games with a little boy around her own age. When it was time to leave, Teresa came up to Mom and asked for their phone number. Mom asked why she needed it, and Teresa explained that she and the little boy weren't done with their game so she invited him to come over and finish it.

Mom declined to provide the number. Apparently Teresa has, as a result, been paying really good attention during the "learn your phone number and address" lessons that are part of her kindergarten curriculum. I am going to laugh and laugh if Mom gets random calls from strangers about scheduling a playdate one of these days.

--- 4 ---

This post at Seven Angels, etc., reminded me of something hilarious that happened to me about 3 years ago. I don't know if I ever posted about it, but if so I might as well post about it again.

Once upon a time (in November of 2009), I was at "the Pub" buying myself a sandwich or some candy or something. I don't remember. One of the TOR sisters was in line in front of me, buying a sandwich (or something like that) and piece of pumpkin pie. Now, the prices on food could be kind of confusing...if you paid with your meal card, they didn't have sales tax, but if you paid with cash, they did. One way or the other, Sister was about 25 cents shy of what she needed for her food. As she forlornly remarked that she would just have to put the pie back, I quietly opened up my little coin purse and deposited a quarter in front of her. Somehow I communicated the fact that yes, she was allowed to keep it, and no, of course she didn't have to pay me back. She thanked me effusively and went away happy with her pumpkin pie; I went away happy with the glow of my good deed.

That's not the point of the story. The point of the story is that about a week later, I was sitting having a write-in with my friend Rebekah (this is how I know this story happened in November of 2009), when that same Sister came scurrying up to our table, made some remark about how happy she was to have found me, and put a quarter down in front of me.

I was too astonished to say anything (I do have distinctive long hair, but with my hermitlike ways I can't be that easy to find), and she scurried away as quickly as she'd come.

I know it's not quite the same thing as Jane's example, but three years later I still squee from the sheer cuteness of it.

--- 5 ---

I forgot to mention in my last post that for our anniversary Scott and I made this:

It was delicious. Note also the sparkling cider in the background there. This was on November 24, because on our actual anniversary (November 26) Scott had Schola (Schola night means he's out of the house from 7 a.m. to about 9:30 p.m.). There ended up being CAKE at Schola because it was the director's birthday, so when I came to pick him up I got cake too. It was kind of neat.

--- 6 ---

I've been doing some baking lately. Last weekend it was homemade caramel (for my own secret purposes which will be revealed later). My first attempt looked like this:

This is how you all know I'm not actually magical in the kitchen. This stuff smelled as bad as it looked. The second time I was more vigilant and produced this:

That's a whole different saucepan, in case you're curious.

I also made pumpkin muffins yesterday, because it's never a bad time for pumpkin muffins. I had, some time ago, chopped up and boiled a pumpkin that I purchased at the store as a Halloween decoration. The giant bowl of boiled pumpkin had been taking up space in my fridge ever since, but I finally pulled out all my tiny plastic containers and just started filling them. The final result was this:

That's 1 cup of puree in the muffins (I made a small batch) and maybe 15-20 cups in the various other containers.

Remind me next year that one pumpkin is more than enough.

--- 7 ---

This is my Advent wreath:

I actually absolutely love it; my aesthetic sensibilities tend toward minimalism in everything but church architecture. As an added benefit, I'm setting the bar low for all the ladies who have small children and stuff. You're welcome.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!