Sunday, August 21, 2011

In the Land of Broken

These past weeks have been a lesson in how all things that sound simple - are actually a list of multi-step processes that may test your sanity. We've been working for over two months to get phone, cable, and Internet hooked up in the new building. It took about one month just to get the phone NUMBERS (thanks to a hostile take over of the cable company). We are currently running with Internet and ONE (of three) phone lines - and no one can define a date when work will begin - as a matter of fact, we spent a few days just trying to keep the Internet working.

It appears that 99% of construction is done - this just leaves much (MUCH) cleaning, moving of furniture, and final touches. The elevator has gone from fickle to consistently-on-vacation and I've got the repair man on speed dial.

I've discovered one - of many- cast iron pipes that I could put my hand super-powers involved. I'm putting the plumber on speed dial next. I've also toiled with the copy machine, the security system, the polices and procedures, and then mother nature threw us a curve ball that resulted in DAYS of partial electricity and a pile of tree debris.

At least I can not complain about being bored or about "slow" days. Time flies when your "to do" list keeps throwing you curve balls!

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Constant Is Change

This has been a week filled with firsts. I've packed up the old office. Moved into the new office. Had more to do with construction than I would have ever desired to- with the promise of much more to come. Vacuumed more square footage than should be legal. Dug through 2 large coffee cans of keys - and actually found some that worked. Hosted an open house. Had two city inspections and finally began to move people in.

Phew! I'm tired.

I've had lots of negativity sprinkled on top of my days. People telling me this program will never last. People telling me how this won't work, that will fail, and the other things are stupid or not thought out. Some are full of questions - which is helpful and makes you consider various possible situations - but also is exhausting when you feel like you are justifying every answer and being questioned at every stop.

I am very thankful that none of this "stuff" is coming from my boss. She continues to tell me how glad she is that I am there, how brave I am for taking on this project. And she continues to feed my ego with cheers of "you can do it". (And in all fairness, I've heard this from others as well - but it usually is at the end of the grilling questions / comments.)

I'm also overwhelmed with community support - so many people want to help - but I never realized how much work it is to coordinate people's efforts to help. I'm feeling pulled in multiple directions and find that my new mantra is "Just keep swimming!"

At some point this week - I thought, "okay, I'm starting to feel comfortable - this is okay" and of course, I had to remind myself that nothing about my work world today will be the truth of my work world tomorrow - nor in a month or in a year. I've signed up for on-going change.

Keep your fingers crossed that it comes in slow and steady paces. And maybe even that I can catch my breath from time to time and have a moment of comfort and reassurance.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Use What You've Got

In my quest to downsize my possessions - I have to deal with my apparent obsession with body products.

I have a LOT. Imagine an amount in your mind - multiply that by 3 and that might be close. It's crazy. I knew it was bad - but I still had no clue how bad it was. I blame the "buy more" techniques - spend $$ and get free shipping. Or the buy 3 to get a good price deals.

There are lotions for breast firming, self tanning, moisture, some smell good (various flavors), some scrub, some lighten veins, smelly sprays, anti-aging, some for specific body parts, facial creams, eye creams, hair products, full size bottles, sample sizes and so it goes ....

So this year one of my resolutions has been:
1. Stop buying these things. 2. Get better about using them.

It's exhausting! If I used all these things on a daily basis - I would lose hours of my life. Half way through the year - I've done very good about not buying more products. But I feel like I've hardly made a dent in using it all up. I don't think I've ever been so excited to see that I'm reaching the bottom of the bottle.

Do you keep your beauty supply inventory under control? Or do you find it piling up? Do you purge regularly? And do you use what you buy on a regular basis?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lost in Transition

We are approaching a year since my I-LOVED-IT job was pulled right out from under me. And reflecting back on the year, I've just kind of been riding the waves- aimlessly getting by, and faking it-all the while being lost in transition.

And then I realized - the last 2 years of that "Love It" job- were described OVER and OVER by the evil overlords as "a year of transition". Things were changing faster than we could comprehend, communication was hard (or hardly happening), no one had a road map - and the whole thing was like a snowball rolling downhill......with a cliff at the end. So it's no wonder - that this year feels like it's been FOREVER - like I've really been wandering lost for about 3 years - and I'm tired and want to plant myself in a place where I can grow. (And decorate.)

I was very fortunate to find an opening that allowed me to stay with the non-profit that I do love dearly. It was temporary but it was such a gift. Not just for the paycheck - which was greatly appreciated, but because it let me try a different kind of work out (one that I might have been afraid to try - had it not come with an expiration date).

Before that job ended, another position became vacant in another department. It too, was a job that I had NEVER considered doing in all the years that I have known of it. But it was a job that I considered to be a stepping stone. There is retirement in the air for the department lead, and I was in told I could be part of their succession plan. So while this job did not come with an official expiration date, I've kind of been standing in line to reach a higher goal.

And amazing thing happened. After YEARS of discussion and planning and wishing...our organization has been lucky enough to be able to start a whole new program - a HUGE-will have it's own 3 story building - kind of program! I remember hearing about this dream / job long ago when I was sitting at my beloved desk and thinking - that sounds interesting...if I ever want to shake things up, that might be the road to go down.

So while I've been marking time and learning new things and trying to see if the shoes of this potential department-lead job would fit me - another road was being constructed. Now, I will be marking time for my 2 weeks notice- tying up loose ends, sadly - preparing to not be surrounded by some great people that I have grown fond of, and packing up to head to a job that I can make my NEW-GONNA-LOVE-IT-and make it all mine - job!

Little did I know, that the universe was pushing me, shaking me up, and sometimes bruising me so that I would be ready for this next chapter. It's been a while - but the party is on!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

How Much Do You Need?

I have found myself asking this question a lot.

How many TOWELS does a family of 3 actually NEED? 3? 9? 9+1 beach towel each? More? And if you have that answer, then please also tell me how many hand towels and face cloths are appropriate.

How many sets of MIXING BOWLS does one kitchen need? (One tiny -not enough storage- kitchen.) I found 5. One plastic with lids. One metal with lids (lids that I hate and never use and don't fit well). One metal with more bowls / no lids. One set of glass bowls / no lids. And one that I never use for mixing - but more for storage and serving because they are pretty colors.

How many plastic storage containers do you need? Sometimes it seems like the answer is - you can never have enough! However, if you had LESS storage containers - would you be less likely to forget about the leftovers you already have stored in your refrigerator?

I once found 8 pairs of scissors strung around the house (some adult, some fabric, some kitchen, some preschool aged, some older kid aged). And the crazy thing is - I CAN NEVER FIND a pair of scissors when I need them!!! I could say the same thing about nail clippers...and while I haven't counted, I'm pretty sure there are more than 10 in this house - somewhere.

How many clothes do people need? If you had less - would you miss them? Or would it make laundry less of a nightmare? Would you chose your clothes wiser? Would you save money? I counted T-shirts in my son's closet as I was reorganizing....I stopped counting when I hit 35 - and there were more to come, more in laundry, more that were out of season...

I'm trying to live with less. Maybe because I've watched one too many hoarder shows. Maybe because I find my house too full and my mind too cluttered. Maybe because at some point things become a burden and ownership makes you heavy. And maybe because more than once I have thought "If this all burned down (minus the few special things that instantly come into my mind that I would miss) I wouldn't mind starting over and being smarter and letting go of all this crap!

So I'm trying to let go. Some things are harder. Letting go of all the maternity clothes and baby items - feels like giving up on a dream. But no woman ever DIDN'T get pregnant because she didn't have baby items.

My wise friend, Janet, recently pointed out some good facts about donating vs. garage sales (which is the eternal lie that I tell myself- I'm saving all this crap until I can have a garage sale - I can't have the garage sale until I organize all this crap. I can't organize all this crap because there is no room to work with that much stuff / live with the mess while I'm doing it - it's too big of a job, there is too much crap to have a garage sale.) and NOW I am feeling better about letting go. I'm going to help others. I'm going to get a tax receipt. I can do it in small stages (I will NOT lie to myself about doing it all at once - I have no intention of renting a U-Haul). I can spread the wealth to multiple organizations. And I am going to be left with an easier to manage, not so full, peaceful house. Yeah me!

I'll let you know how it is going from time to time...

Do you find stuff building up around you or do you have a system to keep your stuff-inventory in check?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Iced Coffee YUM

I have tried a LOT of iced coffee recipes.

Some were really good -but they involved 10 ingredients and a blender.

Some made 2.8 servings (massively big servings) and sometimes I am the only one that needs an iced coffee and I don't think I should force feed myself an entire blender of coffee just so nothing is wasted.

Some recipes were really quick - but they lacked the flavor, creaminess, and general taste that you find in your $5 iced coffee drinks. Other times they had to be consumed in one super-fast gulp before they became watered down from the melted ice.

Here is my new solution- the goals were:
1. Must be yummy.
2. Must be few in ingredients.
3. Must be fast in the morning.
4. Must be able to make a single serving.

There is some pre-day prep - but it is painless:

Step one: Brew strong coffee - any flavor - just make it strong.

Step two: Shut off coffee pot and let it cool but don't forget it is there.

Step three: Freeze this coffee in ice cube trays and smile for all the future goodness you will enjoy. (I try to make several batches over the weekend and once the cubes are solid I pop them in a Ziploc bag. This stockpile ensures that I will have supplies to last through the week!)

On the big day:
Make one average size cup of super hot water, about 6 ounces of water in a much larger cup- if you have a Keurig then brew one medium cup.

Add to that 3 Tbs. of cappuccino mix. Any flavor. Any brand. This MAY be more powered than you would usually add to that amount of water - but this will provide the sweetness and the creaminess that you need.

Add 7-8 coffee cubes. (Adjust cubes to give more or less coffee flavor to please your pallet.) Be patient and let this melt.
I find that if I make my cup right before walking out the door - by the time I reach work 5-10 minutes later, it's perfectly chilled.

Sit back and enjoy your cool pick-me-up! Maybe with an episode of Weeds? :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Walk It Off!

I don't really like baseball. I never watch it on TV. If I go to a game at a stadium - it is more about the food, the atmosphere, the friends.

Regardless, my kiddo is playing baseball. And I like the kiddo - so I'm trying to like baseball.

This is not an easy task for the following reasons:

I have decided that if you sign up for baseball there is a secret-fine-print-clause that says you must forfeit the right to have a life. They will give you the schedule for the season three days before the first game. They will schedule practices in advance - only to cancel. Schedule "surprise" practices on holiday weekends, random days, and hours before the event. (They may or may not cancel moments before the practice should take place.) They reschedule games with no regard for what day of the week it is, regardless of how many games you have already played that week, and usually do this with about two days notice. You get the never ends.

It's a secret fields do not have addresses. But they randomly say we are playing in Town X. See you there. And we are not "originals" from this area - so maybe everyone else was born with the knowledge of the locations of all random baseball fields in all the surrounding small towns? But I was not. So finding the games is a lot like a scavenger hunt.

It's hot outside. And let's talk about seating - you either get metal bleachers (which are kind of like a large scale George Foreman grill meant to fry all flesh sitting upon them) or splintering wood. And who the hell designs these fields? Have they heard of SHADE-at least for the audience? What do they have against trees? Awnings? Morons.

And then there is the "Walk It Off" phenomenon. Have you seen this? The pitcher winds up - the crazy ball shoots out and nails the batter. And someone (usually male) will yell, "Walk it off!"

I would like to drag these individuals into a dark alley and pummel them with some baseballs to remind them that it hurts like hell to get hit (and I would ask for super-pitching power while I did it). And to remind them that their child likely does not have as much "padding" as their adult bodies.

This week I read about tragedy that occurred resulting in the death of a child on a baseball field. My heart goes out to all the families affected. With this on my mind, I attended a game where one of our team mates was bashed in the face with a flying ball. I understand this happens - it is a risk of the game.

I was very perplexed by the behavior that followed - no one was prepared. (There was a lot of blood.) No one seemed overly concerned. The child was taken off the field and while he could barely stand there was no sense of emergency. In truth - the child's nose was broken and surgery is likely going to be needed to correct the problem. Oh yeah, and he had a concussion--and for the record, I don't think you can just "walk off" a head trauma!

I've considered it a warning sign. If you child is playing sports, or if you have a youngster that you love involved in sports and you attend those games - please, please, please DO NOT expect anyone to know what to do in the event of an emergency. The coaches are often volunteers. The umpires are often students. The parents are just parents - and the minutes waiting for emergency services (assuming anyone realizes they are needed) could make a life and death difference.

I came home and took an online CPR review- I'll contact a local agency to be more official. I'm shopping for our own first-aid kit for sporting events and it will be by my side at every game here-forward. I can not stand the idea of sitting by helplessly while a childs life is in danger. Let's do our best to keep them safe - even if it's in the middle of a game. Smart parenting does not go on hold on the sidelines!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Time Flies...Random Details

I can not even imagine how it got to be June. And how I have been such a bad "poster".

Let's catch up...

Since January - I've taken a position that is not my dream job (it's been open several times before and I've never even considered applying). It's a good job as jobs go, mostly I like that I am still in the same company and get to be surrounded by the same people. I have now worked in every department, every building, and every floor for this organization. I am officially well-rounded. I am also an easy target to be volunteered for any / every committee and project that comes up - because I know "something" about "everything". Let's call that job security!

I've become a Netflix Junkie! I have discovered that if you take an "okay" television series and digest the whole season in a weekend - you can really get sucked in. So I've digested Greek, Secret Life of the American Teenager, Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, Big Bang, and am slowly working on Skins. In other viewing, I'm kind of feeling empty by the end of Big Love but jazzed about the return of Weeds.

Speaking of Weeds...this show always brings on my craving for an iced coffee drink. I dedicated a portion of my Memorial Day weekend to cracking the code to a chilled coffee drink that is the perfect balance of yummy and reasonable-to-assemble-in-the-chaotic-A.M. Success was achieved and I promise to share.

We celebrated the end of 4th grade for the kiddo. A year that will go down in my memory book as being filled with ridiculous projects for which children seemed to be able to "buy" a good grade...since home made supplies did not earn as many points. This lead to several rant-filled adventures to find 3-D objects... for a revolutionary war timeline (I have never been so pleased to find plastic army men, erasers shaped like headstones, and a practical use for my origami skills) a scavenger hunt for a plant that could pass for sassafras, and a search for an Artic Hare and Artic Fox,-for the record these can be found in the toy aisle at your local Target. We also built a car for Stewart Little (since it didn't have to be to scale I can not for the life of me understand how this became a "lesson"). We (he) read 7,000+ pages, received his first ever "B" for a quarter, spent the rest of the year working to average out that "B" so that we would have "A's" for the year (he did it) and we got to see "the puberty" video. Thanks to our family viewing of King of the Hill - he had already been introduced to many of these concepts- my thanks to Hank, Joseph, Bobby, Lou Anne and Connie.

The pool is opened. The garden is in (2nd year square foot gardening). Baseball season has begun - the organizers continue to prove that "planning and organization" are not universal skills.

Thanks for hanging around -I'll be updating my 1001 goals, posting about gardens, crafts, and more.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Droid Does...

... work in the New Year!

Just sayin....

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Year of Receipts

At the beginning of January 2010 I was reading a lot of blogs about saving money on groceries.

To be honest, I really didn't know how much we were spending on our "budget" of food - we bought, we ate, we bought some more.

I'm not the best shopper - I don't have menus planned for the week. It's a work in progress - and so a year ago I decided at the very least, I needed to know how much we were spending.

And so - I fanatically began collecting receipts. I was very diligent (read as neurotic) and I think at times I may have been mistaken as a crazy paper hoarder if you saw in my purse...but would say that 98% of the shopping trips were collected.

With a years worth of data in front of me...I began the analysis...and this is what I've learned.

1. Unless I immediately attack my husband upon his return from the store, the receipt will forever be lost.

2. The numbers are not fully accurate - it doesn't include eating out, it doesn't include the 25% of a cow that we bought, it does include random household items (air filters, dog food, toilet paper, medications) and it does not include school lunches.

3. I made an average of 5.25 trips to the store per month. (There must have been killer stock-up sales in March - I had 11 receipts!)

4. I spent an average of $279 per month.

5. Now I can really compare prices especially for bulk items.

And the final lesson....Surely, I can do better.

Add that to my resolution list!