February 28, 2011

Front-Loading Washers and Three-Legged Races

I'm pretty sure this goes without saying, but every marriage is different.  While I'm pretty sure that the great majority of them follow the same basic rules of marriage, the details all depend on the individuals.  Things that David or I do might cause the next World War in another marriage.  We pick our battles, for the most part.  We find those things that we care about and we fight for them....or bottle them up and save them for later.  (That just so happens to be my specialty!)  Sometimes our spouse/significant other can do something that we had no idea would piss us off until it does.

David and I have had quite the 'learning experience' in the past couple of weeks.  We decided to buy a new washer and dryer.  Now, being the person who does 100% of the laundry 100% of the time, I wanted to be able to pick out the new ones.  I figured it would take us a few weeks to really do our research, shop around, and get a decent deal.  After a bit of talking, we both knew we wanted to get a front-loading washer.  Relying on a well for water and living in a place where water is not exactly found in abundance, we were ecstatic to find out how little water the new gadgets really use.  Of course it would be nice to have all the bells and whistles that come with the new contraptions, but water and energy efficiency were the initial draw for us.  The price was a bit of a drawback, but you get what you pay for...if you do your homework.

We officially decided on a Wednesday that we would actively begin shopping for them.  Now, our washer and dryer were still functional.  They had their quirks and all, but working around those quirks just became a part of my daily routine.  I guess you can say that I felt no real pressure to buy anything RIGHT NOW.  I wanted to take my time, ask around, check out the displays in the stores, open and close the doors and push all the buttons...you know, have fun with it!

And then there's David.

David is so much more of the 'NOW' mentality than I am.  I am definitely a thinker and David is definitely a doer.  Evidently, that Wednesday night was rather sleepless for poor David.  His mind was racing as he figured out the best game plan for making a big purchase like this one.  I had planned to spend a bit of that Thursday just doing some online browsing.  You can learn a lot about a product if you visit enough sites, read enough reviews.  David ended up at a store after work and found a deal that he just couldn't pass up.  He called me, had me see what I could find online about this particular washer and dryer set, and made a deal with the salesguy that he just KNEW he would never be able to make again.  The whole concept of shopping for big ticket items stresses him out and he needed it to be done now

And David bought that set right there on the spot, without me being able to so much as push a button or open and close the doors.  I never told him "Yes.  These are perfect!  Buy them." but I also never told him "NO."  And I didn't realize how much it would bother me until it did.  It really bothered me that I didn't feel like I was the one who picked out the new washer and dryer.  I had it in my head that I would do most of the shopping, find what I wanted and, if it was something that David agreed on, then we would buy them.

See, that's the problem with forming ideas about how things should be when you have to factor in another person's ideas and agenda and try to mesh them with your own.  Now, we all know those married couples where someone very obviously 'wears the pants' in the relationship.  David and I are not like that.  (At least, I don't think we are!)  I call the shots about certain things, he calls the shots about other things.  The mutual decisions are where it can get tricky.  Neither of us wears those pants, but we each wear a leg.  Watching us muddle through a situation must be like watching a really ugly three-legged race.  It can't be pretty, with all the stumbling and finger-pointing that occurs on the way to the finish line.  But we always seem to finish, and finishing means winning.  In the end, the race was only with ourselves, anyway.

So, after much back and forth between us, we now have a washer and dryer that we like.  (Well, they've been here for less than 24 hours, but they do everything we ask of them and they even play a little tune when they have finished!)  They are the ones he chose, but a trip to the store to play with the buttons and open and close the doors changed my perspective.  I do like them.  I would probably have even picked them out myself, if I'd had the chance!  (Okay, so I'm still working on the 'letting go' part a bit!)  Thanks to David, I even got to paint the laundry room before the new ones came.  He was a huge help there!  I would probably still be painting in there had he not helped!  (And I did get to pick the paint!)  Plus, he found another place who sold it cheaper and got them to match the price and beat it by 10%.  We ended up getting a price that seemed otherwise unheard of for this particular model.  I don't know how he does it!

In talking to other women, I can get anything from "I would be so pissed" to "I could care less, as long as they work!"  Like I said, the rules are different in every marriage.  And those rules will continue to change and evolve as we do.  The things we care about today may not be worth taking a stand for tomorrow, so choose your battles wisely.  (I'm working on that one too!)

February 14, 2011

Because sometimes you just have to let your crops wither.

WHOA!  Where on earth have I been?  A little bit over here...a little bit over there...even a bit over yonder.

So many things have been keeping me from being able to sit down and write.  Most of them were conscious decisions that caused me to spend a lot less time staring at this glowing box connected to a keyboard.  I even let some of my crops wither on my FarmVille farm.  The really sad thing was that I had some folks send me messages out of honest-to-goodness concern for my well-being because I hadn't been on FarmVille in days.  

Frankly, I'm not sure that's the impression I want to leave on the world!

It really started on 8YO's birthday...well, the planning of her little party, actually.  She was allowed to invite five friends over.  We just couldn't have anymore than five because these things get out of control so easily.  Did I ever tell you about the time that we decided to let 14YO invite her WHOLE CLASS over for a birthday party?  That was in addition to the usual number of family and friends.  Of the 22 or so kids her class, 10 RSVP'd but closer to 20 actually showed up...some with siblings!  The bounce house cancelled because it had been raining all night and we (Okay, David) had to come up with entertainment for a buttload of excited partygoers.  To add to the chaos, 8YO was about TWO MONTHS OLD at the time.  I don't handle menial trips to the grocery store very well when I have a newborn.  There are just so many details involved in leaving the house with a newborn...or even just leaving one with someone else!  

I don't do details well.

So, 8YO was having five friends over.  She doesn't care for cupcakes, so I made some pumpkin spice muffins and some chocolate cupcakes so there would be something for everyone.  I decided on an inexpensive craft and a cheesy game.  

Seems simple enough, right?

Nothing is simple when you aren't a very organized person!  My desk, my house, my head...all full of dark, cobwebby corners of things I meant to take care of but just haven't yet.  The road to a cluttered house really is paved with good intentions.  All I can do is look around and calculate the hours, days, weeks, it would take to get in my home in a condition I'm proud of.  (Not to mention the money!)  It's not that I don't know how to clean.  I mean, my kitchen surfaces are always clean when they need to be and the bathrooms are usually kept pretty decent.  I've figured out the key to keeping up on laundry.  (Which, amazingly enough is....drumroll please....KEEPING UP ON LAUNDRY!  Imagine that!)  I've even devised a system where I can't even start a new load in the washer until the stuff in the dryer is folded and put away.  Of all the things you might see when you walk into my house, baskets of laundry to fold will not be among them!

So, the day or so of marathon cleaning that occurs before having actual people over is full of sorting, yelling, and David and I exchanging more than our fair share of dirty looks.  After all, each of us seems to be incapable of seeing our own messes but there is no excuse for the messes that others leave behind.

Sound familiar?

Now, we are in no way even remotely close to being on Hoarders, but I can find hundreds of tiny messes scattered all over the house that all make me feel so outnumbered. 

After enjoying the birthday thing and realizing it was ridiculous to be SO EXHAUSTED at the end of the day, I decided to take action.  I had been an on and off follower of Flylady for almost five years.  Her basic ideas are really good, but she throws in all these crazy little rules that bug the crap out of me and make me resistant.  I won't put shoes on unless I'm going somewhere.  In fact, if I DO plan to be going somewhere, I'm not getting dressed at ALL until I'm finished cleaning.  I won't subscribe to the emails because I can't stand my inbox to be so full of crap that she doesn't even want us to read when first starting out. 


If my sink is clean, that's great.  It's just about as great as anything else being clean in my house, really.  I don't see any direct links between a really clean kitchen sink and my own satisfaction with myself.  I guess I don't really think my house defines me.  It's just a facet, really.  One of the many facets that make me who I am.  Sometimes I'm a great cook.  Sometimes I cake make really cool things on my computer with my scrapbooking program.  Sometimes I'm a decent knitter.  Sometimes I bake something really yummy.  I'm usually proud of the sort of parent I am...so long as we're not trying to be anywhere ON TIME.  (I'm working on that too!) 

So, I'd downloaded the Flylady app from iTunes a few months back.  It's set up really well.  You get the basics of Flylady without all the emotional baggage she tends to push into her blogs and podcasts.  I was listening to her podcast for awhile, but I really can't stand to take advice from really emotional, weepy people.  She started to get under my skin when she almost cried while talking about her shiny sink, but I had to draw the line when she told some lady that she needed to let her MIL change whatever she wanted to in her house while she was visiting because, and I quote, "She needs something to do!  She needs to feel needed!" 

Need to feel needed?  GET A PUPPY!  Don't take it out on your son's wife!

Did I mention that the Flylady was almost in tears while she said that?  She was speaking from her own perspective at the time and taking no consideration for how the DIL must have felt when her MIL came in and made her home feel like it wasn't hers.  Like maybe whatever she was doing for her own family wasn't good enough.

You don't mess with a woman when it comes to her home and family.  You just don't.

Anyhow, that's what I've been up to.  Following little checklists and taking care of business.  Keeping up on that allows little to no time for the fun stuff.  But, I can say that I am more calm these days.  I don't look around and see things that I cannot fix and get that knot in my stomach when someone comes to the door.  Everything seems to just run smoother without any real trying on my part. 

And as soon as they figure out how to add a few more hours into a day (or as soon as I require way less sleep!) I just may have it all.  In some ways, I already do.