#MondayBlogs: Abundance: Trust vs. Hoarding

I have a pantry in my basement. This is an old photo, taken when all the kids still lived here full-time and we went through several boxes of cereal each week. My pantry is less crowded now, because there are only three of us here full-time. I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of shopping for only three (or four, when my daughter’s home from college). This means that I wind up buying too much, and some of it gets wasted because it goes bad before I can use it.

But I feel the need to keep that pantry (and my upright freezer) full.

Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz. All rights reserved.

There’s this threshold in my mind — this imaginary line I must not cross. I was down to less than a quart of milk on Wednesday, and I knew I wouldn’t get to the store before Friday. Never mind that I live 1/4 mile from the nearest gallon of milk; I was expending a lot of mental energy over the lack of “enough” milk in my house. It’s not like anyone around here (except me) even regularly uses milk. But that milk level was below my threshold of comfort, and it bothered me until Saturday morning when I finally made it to the store. We still had some milk in the jug. We had not run out. And as I said already, my neighborhood is not food-insecure.

Thinking about this gets me a little anxious — even now that I have almost a full gallon of milk in the fridge.

Where do I draw the line between having too much stuff that I “might need someday” and having enough to use for what I need right now, as well as something to share?

Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your life-span? If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest? (Luke 12: 25-26)

I’ve run into this issue before with medical supplies, but that’s different. VERY different. Medical supplies are non-negotiable, and I do need to be very aware of what we have, what we need, and whether there is enough.

As for the other things, how do I stop feeling that I must fill that available pantry space and instead be grateful for what is there? How do I dial back my threshold of “enough” when there is obviously plenty there? How do I trust enough to share from that abundance?

Because I really want to stop the worrying that kicks in when there’s only a quart of milk in the house.

Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz

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R.I.P. Maytag

For the fourth time in less than ten years, our dishwasher has broken.

Every time, it’s the same. The panel on the front where you select the cycle and turn it on breaks. First the latch that helps you open the dishwasher door starts to disintegrate. You can still use the dishwasher, but it’s a little more challenging. After a while, I guess the pieces of that latch start falling down on the inside, and none of the buttons on the front work anymore.

lonely maytag repairmanSo much for that “lonely Maytag repairman” myth.

Is there a Lemon Law regarding dishwashers?

Middle Sister observed this morning, “You don’t need a dishwasher. You have 3 kids.”

Me: (figuring that none of the kids would be on board for that kind of KP)  “Really?”

Middle Sister:  “Oh…yeah. You need a dishwasher.”

Mr. Appliance says that the average life expectancy of a dishwasher is 12 years. This one isn’t going to make it.

The new KP schedule will be posted on the refrigerator. Have fun, kids.

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A Note to My Plumber

As a parent and a former teacher, I completely understand and support the ideas of “learn by doing” and “keep trying until you get it right.” After all, that’s how you learn.

But as your customer, I’m tired of being inconvenienced.

Your helper has been here twice to fix the dripping connection under my bathroom sink after he installed it a week ago. You might want him to learn to fix his own mistakes, but I want to be able to put the toilet paper and Comet back under the sink where they belong (instead of in the hallway outside the powder room).

I haven’t yelled and screamed at the kid. (Yes, he’s a kid. I think he might have started shaving just last week. He probably just graduated from Vo-Tech.) I’ve just shown him how, 20 minutes after you run the water in that sink, you find a little puddle in the bottom of the vanity.

He keeps trying to fix it, and thinking he’s done that. Then he leaves, and a little while later I find water under there again.

It’s time to stop sending the helper.

Come to the Quiet

I don’t think I have ever said that this house is too quiet.

Quiet is the thing I like most about my kids being back to school. The only one making noise in the house is me (and the washing machine, which pretty much hums nonstop around here, but I barely notice that.)

Other than listening to The Catholics Next Door on satellite radio, I rarely have any radio, TV or music on during the school day when I’m not out running errands. It’s just me and my quiet. (I do talk to myself sometimes. It’s good that there’s no one else here to hear me and think I’m nuts.)

I really do need and appreciate that quiet. When the kids were younger, TheDad used to send me out of the house for some “bookstore time” so I could recharge my batteries a bit. That was always welcomed and wonderful, but the music in the store–someone else’s choice of music–just became another source of noise pollution in my world. I’d find myself hurrying out of there to get away from it.

It’s good–really good–to get away from all the noise that surrounds you everywhere. It’s good to be home, in the quiet, where nothing’s louder than the washing machine, the crickets and the sparrows.

It Never Fails

TheDad and Big Brother are off to Summer Camp for the week with the Boy Scout troop. They’ll be living in tents, battling mosquitos and looking to beat last year’s second-place finish in the Iron Camp Chef competition.

Usually, we just say goodbye to them at home, but this year the rest of us went over to the church where the Scouts were packing up the vans and trailer. I’m sorry we didn’t do this other years. It was nice to hang out with the other moms and leaders’ wives, to wish all the campers well (not just the ones in my own family) and to trade cell-phone numbers with moms who worry that their child’s phone won’t pick up a signal in camp (it probably won’t. But someone will manage to call, and then we’ll all let each other know that everyone’s OK.)

And then I came home, put down my coffee cup, and headed directly to Big Brother’s closet (do not pass GO, do not collect $200) where I took all his t-shirts out of the closet organizer where they’d been stuffed, folded them neatly, and replaced them. That thing has been driving me crazy for months, but I’ve managed to resist until now.

(I’m now wondering if he has any shirts at camp with him. He has an awful lot of t-shirts.)

Middle Sister is off to a sleepover with the cousins on Wednesday. Her dresser is next.

I expect that before the week is out, I’ll rearrange some furniture. Because doing that, and cleaning closets and dresser-drawers, is how I say “welcome home” to someone who’s been away.

OCD II

You may be relieved to know that there is a limit to my, um, eccentricity.

Middle Sister wore some very-light-colored shorts on her Sunday afternoon foray to the creek with Boy Next Door (they’ve been friends since they were 3, nothing to see here, folks….) Naturally she came back covered with mud and her shorts were no exception. After a liberal dose of “Pray ‘N’ Wash” I tossed the shorts into the machine and then hung them up to dry. No sense setting the stain in the dryer.

This morning I inspected the clothes to see if I had to send them on a second run through the washing machine. I saw a few faint marks, and was all set to grab more pretreater.

Then I saw the dots of dark red nail polish from her pre-creek manicure. All the “Pray ‘N’ Wash” in the world won’t fix that. I put them into her basket of clean laundry “as is.”

However, I am eccentric enough that I had to tell this story.

I Don’t Consider This a "Feature"

I have a standing Friday lunch date with the Wall Street Journal’s Weekend Journal section. I read articles about cars I’d never drive, wine (I don’t drink), and various consumer goods not in my household budget. And then, while I nibble my grilled-cheese-and-tomato sandwich, I inspect the million-dollar-plus real-estate listings. I drool over ocean views, floor-to-ceiling windows and expansive front porches. I wonder what surprises these homes, depicted in black-and-white thumbnail photos and a sentence or two in Realtorese, have to offer.

And sometimes I shake my head and thank my lucky stars that I don’t live in these homes. One of today’s offerings “can accommodate privacy of teenagers.” I don’t think so! Teenagers can get in enough trouble without living in houses that accommodate their privacy. Around here, privacy is limited to “shut the door when you are sleeping, dressing, showering, or using the bathroom.” Otherwise, all bets are off–and I like it that way. If my kids want more privacy, they can grow up, get jobs, and get their own homes. This is already more privacy than either TheDad or I get, and I’d venture to say that most parents would say the same.

So I guess I’ll save that million dollars I don’t have anyway, and cross that dream house off my list.

Now that the eggs are dyed

How long will it be before I find the Bunny Tongs that I bought this year to help Little Brother hold the eggs while he colors them?

It’s really risky to turn him loose on cups full of food coloring and vinegar with relatively fragile eggs and no tool to hold them. He still thinks it’s OK to drop the egg from a 6-inch (or more) height above the cup.

Newspaper on the table is a must. I should have carpeted the floor with it as well.

So anyway, I bought the cute tongs at the supermarket, let Little Brother inspect them, and put them away in a safe place. Apparently it’s a really safe place. I’ve cleaned out 4 cabinets today and inspected most of the pantry in my quest to find these things, and they are just nowhere.

So how long before they turn up?

Homebody

My name is Barb and I’m a homebody. I can leave anytime I want to, but I don’t usually want to.

I like being home. Is that so wrong?

Today I was away from home for 7 straight hours but never more than 5 miles away. I tutored one student from 10 to 11:45, ran to McDonald’s for a quick burger and fries, tutored another student from 12:15 to 1:15, drove over to Little Brother’s classroom to help celebrate his teacher’s birthday, then went to the supermarket for some rolls, grapes and pepperoni (lunchbox essentials) and from there went to a clothing outlet where I found a few fantastic bargains on short-sleeved shirts for Middle Sister. Then it was back to school to get the younger 2 kids and bring them to their dentist appointment. I got home just before 5.

I am paid quite nicely for all that tutoring, but there was just too much going on in this day. I’ll have to make sure that future sessions aren’t stacked up quite so closely.

And let’s not forget all the housework that SHOULD have gotten done during the day. There’s no energy left to do that now. I’ll get dinner on the table and the dishes cleaned up–then I have to make up a test for tomorrow’s tutoring session!

Only 13 weeks until the end of the semester, and only 5 weeks in which I’ll have to work 8 hours instead of 4. I can do it….I can do it….but I seriously wish my students could come here for their tutoring. Because I just like being in my house.

The Roof Over My Head

I am sitting here at what is normally a very quiet time of day in the house. Any other Monday, you’d probably hear nothing but the washing machine and dryer running, and maybe the vacuum cleaner or some water running as I clean up the mess leftover from the weekend.

But today, they are removing the roof. The sound of thumps and scrapes and bumps and heavy boots walking overhead drowns out the buzz of the dryer’s “I’m done” signal. I can hear a radio but I can’t make out what’s playing on it.

Having a roof done in January is iffy business, but when we started to see water damage on Middle Sister’s ceiling, we knew we couldn’t put it off any longer. Fortunately the weather today is gorgeous with temps climbing through the 50s, and tomorrow will be even better.

It was a shame that Little Brother had already headed off to school when the big truck with the built-in “claw lift thingamajig” pulled up and started offloading pallets of shingles right onto the roof. The rest of the kids in the neighborhood, who take a later bus, had some entertainment while they stood on the corner waiting for their ride.

It’s noisy now, but it will be leakproof later. And then they’ll replace my ugly front door, and the back door with the cracked windowpane, with pretty new doors and frosted-glass sidelights in the front. And I’ll get to go to the Big Box Home Improvement Store and choose a paint color for the front door (and the shutters, which someone in the house who shall remain nameless did not even realize we have).

TheDad asked me this morning if I was excited about getting the new roof. Not really. It’s the doors that I’m waiting for. That’s something I look at and use every day. It’ll be nice to look at something pretty for a change.