Make home improvements OR remain happily married?

 

Years ago, I worked at a carpet store, where I constantly heard stories, nightmares really, of how miserable it was to go through a home improvement. Couples couldn’t agree on carpet color or texture, and deciding between hardwood floors or laminate proved equally objectionable.

My husband and I have never gone through anything as extensive as a remodel, and I dread the day that we do. I think moving might be a better choice than coming to verbal blows over tile or hardwood.

It’s that time of year for us when the H.O.A. (Home Owner’s Association) makes its annual assessment of our properties. HOA’s are great for keeping property values up, I suppose, but their “improvements” never seem to improve my checkbook or my marriage, and this year is no exception.

This year, it’s our deck. Though it can hardly be called a “deck,” rather more like a balcony. It’s on the second level and measures all of 6’x8’. We never even use it because it faces our neighbor’s living room, and unless we suddenly develop an interest in peering in on our neighbor’s lives, we will continue to not use it.

Now my husband and I complement each other, in that his strengths are my weaknesses and vice-versa. It’s how we work. But when it comes to working together on a home improvement, we’ve learned that it’s best if we stay out of each other’s way.

I’m usually the DIY person around the house, so I was really surprised when he said that he wanted US to do part of the improvement. What?! Is he crazy?! We can’t do that! We’ll kill each other! Not to mention that we don’t have the proper tools, or expertise to do said improvement.

We compromised: we hired a handyman to do the actual repairs, but my husband insisted that we could do the painting. I was skeptical to say the least. That meant renting a ladder (we don’t own an extension ladder) and one of us would have to go up that ladder and do the painting, and it wasn’t going to be me…not this time. But he assured me that we could get it done.

I called my brother who happens to be a handyman in another state (he inherited my Dad’s skill), and I was feeling pretty confident. Maybe we could do this. Maybe if we pulled together, and had a plan, we could work together and paint the balcony, without ending up in divorce court.

That was two weeks ago.

Since then, we’ve argued about getting it done, having enough time to get it done, doing it right but quickly, getting it done in the timeframe the H.O.A. allotted.

Just to add more stress, my husband suddenly got really busy at work, I got a new job, and time was still ticking. Tensions were running high!

I started with a coat of primer on the deck today, and realized…we are in over our heads!

I put in a call to a handyman, and he’s coming tomorrow.

Now, maybe I reacted to soon. Maybe we could have done it ourselves. Maybe we could have done it without killing each other.

But it just seems like a couple hundred dollars for a handyman will be much less expensive than marriage counseling would have cost.

How about you? Have you and your significant other ever attempted a home improvement together?

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Taking a Poll…

I’m taking an informal poll, based on something I heard.

 

Without going into details, I thought it would be interesting to get an idea of what my readers think:

What income bracket do you consider to be Middle Class?

 

Thanks for participating. Have a Happy Friday the 13th! 😊

I Need a “Cause”

 

Some might say, “You’re a Mom, that’s your cause,” or “You have a house to maintain, that’s your cause,” and both of those statements are true.

But those causes go without saying. My children aren’t babies anymore, they’re in their teens. For the most part, they can take care of themselves…well, you know what I mean.

I’m talking something OUT of myself that I need.

I used to volunteer at my church, and at the pregnancy center around the corner, and various other causes that came around. But then we moved 2000 miles across the country, and I lost all those connections.

Since we’ve been here (5 years now), I have tried reaching out to find my “thing.” But it seems like every charitable door I’ve tried to open comes crashing closed. I know, it sounds crazy, right? Charities are ALWAYS looking for people.

I’ve tried the senior center right down the street. I had to take a class and everything, and then? Nothing. Not a peep. Most of the women in the volunteer meeting that I went to were senior citizens, so maybe they only want seniors to volunteer. I’m not really sure, but they didn’t want me.

We’re still looking for a church where we feel completely comfortable. In our area, there are mostly mega-churches, and it’s easy to get lost in the “corporation” of a big church. Not to mention, since I don’t drive, I’ve had a hard time finding one that I can get to on my own.

So, I’m looking for ideas. Any suggestion?

I’m fairly crafty. I can sew and knit, but I can’t crochet. I’d like to find something that I can be a part of, and not just send something off to once a month. Volunteering in a group is always more fulfilling.

I’m definitely more of a behind-the-scenes type of person rather than the one out in front of the crowd. I’m one of the “worker bees.”

So, what do you think? Does anyone have any good experiences with volunteering they’d like to share?

A Lesson in Grocery Shopping

Let me start this post by saying that my husband is a wonderful man. I love him with all my heart. We’ve been married 18 years, as of next month, he’s a good husband, father and provider. But a housewife, he is not.

When he changed jobs last year  our monthly income went down quite a bit, as did the way we get paid: I get paid bi-monthly on the same dates, and he gets paid every two weeks, regardless of the date. Which makes it hard to figure out a budget since every month is different.

Yesterday, we sat down, and really worked on a manageable budget plan (thank you Dave Ramsey). It’s tight, but do-able.

One of the things included in the budget is, of course, food and grocery shopping, which has always been my department, except that he is forced to go to the grocery store with me, since I don’t drive. But he’s never really been part of the planning process for weekly meals, other than to eat the meals. I’ve always been the one to figure out how to stretch one meal into the next using leftovers, and things like that. But after doing our budget, his eyes are opened to our food budget.

There’s nothing worse than making my weekly meal plan only to find out the grocery store doesn’t have the particular cut of meat that I planned on using for several meals. That’s when I have to do some quick planning in my head, on the spot, to come up with a different idea, and still stay in budget. That happened today. They didn’t have the cheap cut of beef that I was going to use to make chicken fried steak, much to my husband’s disappointment. But they did have some bottom round cuts that I could tenderize the heck out of, but I didn’t want to spend the money. I wanted a cheaper option. Remember…trying to stay on budget.

He suggested a parmesan pasta (from DamnDelicious.net) that I make which is very easy, only he wanted to add sausage or peppers to the recipe. Mind you, sausage doesn’t agree with my daughter or me, and he is the only one who likes peppers, of any color. So, the “additions” would strictly be for him, and I wouldn’t be able to use the sausage for any other meal. I mentioned that by the time we bought the noodles, the peppers and the sausage, we may as well buy the steak. He didn’t believe me, so I challenged him.

The steak, was on sale for $5.94 (I told you, it was a cheap cut). The pasta: $0.79, the peppers (any color) were $1.79 each, the sausage (and here’s what pushed him over cost) was $4.99, and that was the cheapest one he could find. He doesn’t like the uncooked, sausage in a tube…he wanted premium kielbasa or something similar to that, bringing his “Noodles Parmesan” total to $7.57!

Now, my husband and I can be a bit competitive at times, in the nicest of ways, and I can tell you it felt great to win! For once, I got to explain what is going on inside my head while I’m shopping for food. Sometimes it’s not as simple as following a list, and throwing things into a cart. In fact, it’s NEVER as simple as that. And any corporate mogul would be lucky to have a SAHM who can think on her feet as part of their team.

By the way, we STILL got out of the grocery store $22.00 UNDER budget, thank you very much. AND we get to enjoy steak, baked potato and green beans for dinner tonight. Just don’t tell my daughter about the green beans…she hates them. You can’t please everyone, right?

I Don’t Feed My Kids…according to my Mom

Mothers and daughters disagree…A LOT.

And it doesn’t stop when we/they get older.

My mother thinks I don’t feed my kids enough, and she’s mentioned it numerous times. When I mention what we’re having for dinner in casual conversation, there’s usually a pause. I know she thinks I’m “not feeding her grandchildren.”

Okay. My kids are 11 and 15. They eat when they’re hungry, and they don’t spend the day snacking because they’re at school. I also make they’re lunches, so I know what they’re eating (unless they are throwing everything away).

Now, I’m not one of those mothers that send my kids to school with a Bento box, no offense to the “Bento Box Mom,” I just don’t have those skills or that kind of motivation. We’re a sandwich, chips or crackers, fruit, and juice or water sort of family. It works for us. They’ve never asked for more, but they are certainly welcome to it if they want it.

I assume that if they were starving, they would ask for more food, or help themselves. I mean, as I said, they’re 11 and 15, they are perfectly capable of figuring out if they want more food.

We eat dinner together as a family most every night. They eat the same portions as my husband and I do, albeit the 11-year-old still takes a little encouragement to finish the parmesan chicken that he hates. (Who doesn’t like parmesan chicken…it’s basically a giant chicken nugget!)

Now in her defense, my mom lives with someone who requires meat and bread with every meal…I mean EVERY meal. He will go to the store before a meal specifically to get bread if he’s out. And he has to have meat…no pasta, no quinoa, no vegetarian, only meat. So, I can see where she might be a little “judgy” about what we eat.

Over the years, in an attempt to save money and stretch the budget, we don’t always have meat at every meal. But that’s perfectly healthy. I know lots of families, like us, who have “Meatless Tuesday” or “Vegetarian Wednesday” or “Spaghetti Friday” to save money as well as simplify their lives.

She’s also from an older generation where food equaled love. How much you fed your family was equivalent to your love for your family. And though that’s still true in some cultures, it’s gotten to be sort of old-fashioned.

So, I think my mom and I will have to just agree to disagree when it comes to food.

What about you? I can’t be the only one who disagrees with their mom.

Reading the Classics

This post is sparked by something I recently posted on Facebook.

My daughter, who is a sophomore in high school, has been reading the classics and various assigned reading material. Last year it was “Romeo and Juliet,” “Of Mice and Men,” and “The Outsiders” (not sure I’d call that one a classic) among others. As this year starts, she’s reading “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding.

It made me think back to high school (I had to think really hard) to some of the books we were assigned to read. I still keep in touch with some of my high school friends (we just had our 30th reunion – not sure how that happened), so I asked them what they remember reading. It’s been one of the best responses I’ve ever had to anything I’ve posted before, so, just for fun, I thought I’d bring it to my blogging community.

The list is varied, considering some were in honors classes (now called Advanced Placement), but my classmates clearly have a much better memory than I do. I don’t remember reading half of these!

I thought it would be interesting to see what some of my followers from around the country (and world) remember reading in high school (as assigned reading).

Here’s the list my classmates came up with so far. Please feel free to comment which were your favorites and add to the list in the comments below. I think it would be really interesting to compile an International List (unless there’s one already) and I’ll share it with my high school classmates, who are now scattered all over the world.

1984                                                                                             Animal Farm

Grapes of Wrath                                                                       Moby Dick

Don Quixote                                                                              Handmaid’s Tale

Of Mice and Men                                                                     A Tale of Two Cities

The Great Gatsby                                                                     Les Miserables

The Scarlet Letter                                                                    Catch 22

Hamlet                                                                                       Julius Caesar

Death of a Salesmen                                                               Cather in the Rye

Wuthering Heights                                                                  Sound and the Fury

Huckleberry Finn                                                                    Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man

Canterbury Tales                                                                     Brave New World

Secret Life of Walter Mitty                                                   Black Like Me

Cannery Row                                                                           Siddhartha

 

Also, are there any that you loved and you could read over and over. My favorite was probably “Cannery Row.”

This is just for fun. Hope this brings back some fond memories. By the way, I have to admit that Cliff Notes were my friend during the Shakespeare unit! LOL

No Opportunity Wasted

Where I live, I am surrounded by over-achieving adults, and they’re passing that on to their kids, not that there’s anything wrong with that. If you have that kind of drive, more power to you.

But sometimes I think we look too far ahead to the “end product” and miss a whole bunch in between.

We miss the opportunities that happen our way, and consider them a waste of time or not worth the effort.

But life isn’t about the “end product,” it’s about all the stuff in between birth and death, and what we do with every opportunity we get.

There seems to be a big portion of the population, mostly millennials (sorry guys, I don’t mean to stereotype you, but it’s what us “old people” see – and by “old,” I mean middle-aged), who are reaching for the brass ring and missing all the silver, pewter, and aluminum rings on the way.

One thing my husband and I are teaching our kids, is that no opportunity should be wasted…ever.

Every opportunity, whether it works in your favor or not, should not be wasted.

But what does that look like?

For kids: Say you didn’t make it into the advanced placement math class this semester. Disappointing? Yes. Tragic. No. Any opportunity? Definitely. First, figure out why you didn’t make it in to the class. There are those moments when you just weren’t “smart enough” I suppose, but more likely, you just didn’t try hard enough. You didn’t study as hard as you could have. You didn’t take the opportunity for the extra credit questions because it didn’t seem as interesting, or fun, as your video game.

We carry this into adulthood too.

How many jobs have we passed up because the pay was “beneath us?” Now if you’re unemployed and have a family depending on you, chances are this won’t happen. If you’re unemployed, and the sole provider, you’ll take any job you can get. But every job can be looked at as an opportunity. Maybe it isn’t what you want to do for the rest of your life, or even for the next month. But what can you learn from it? Nothing, you say? Don’t be so sure.

You may learn how to work with people, especially the ones you don’t like. You may learn a new skill. Maybe this job is just a stepping stone to the next job…a better job. Maybe it inspires you to be the entrepreneur you’ve always dreamed of being. Maybe you’ll make connections that can help you further down the road. You may even learn something about yourself, if you’re paying attention, that is.

Opportunities stretch us, and grow us into the people we need to become. Don’t waste them.

Life rarely turns out the way we plan, but sometimes the plans are better than we could have ever imagined. But not unless we take the opportunities given us.

Have you ever passed up an opportunity and you wish you could have a “do over?”