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What I Don’t Like

I don’t like the boys waiting until Monday to do the homework they need help with. I told them over weekend that any homework needing my assistance should be done on Saturday when I would be home and have plenty of time to help them. Did they listen? No.

“I can’t concentrate on it now.”

“It’s not that much. It won’t take long.”

“I don’t mind doing math corrections in the morning.”

And of course, things didn’t get started until I was at work. And as soon as I got home at 6:15, after a day of work and a trip to the grocery store, still needing to make cornbread and heat up leftover vegetable soup after I unload the groceries, Jacob tells me from across the street, “I need some help on a few of my math problems. Oh, and I have a paragraph to write that’s due tomorrow. It’s just one paragraph.” A paragraph for Jacob is like writing a dissertation. It takes forever, and it’s not a fun process. For anyone.

I walked in the door and Caleb greeted me with, “After supper, can you help me with my bibliography? Oh, and I have to write an outline for my research paper, too. I have to print them out so I can turn them in tomorrow.”

So I unloaded the groceries, made cornbread, heated the soup, ate, cleaned the kitchen, and then split myself down the middle so half of me could help each needy child because they didn’t listen to my warnings over the weekend. Well, I wished I could split myself down the middle… Thankfully Billy took the reins with Caleb and helped him do searches on sources for his bibliography. I was able to help Jacob with his summary, which turned out to be a page long, and to check his math. Corrections will be done in the morning… sigh

Jacob went to bed sometime after 9:30, and Caleb crawled into bed at 10:10. I’m sitting in the quiet, taking a few minutes for myself – otherwise I won’t get any today. Now I need to go to bed so I can get up when my alarm goes off at 5:00 tomorrow morning. We have got to find a better routine.

The Second Week

I promise I won’t write about every work week, but this one is different from last week in many ways.

First, I was on my own. No Martha there to shadow me and help me out when I needed it. And I needed it a few times. I texted her some questions and got quick answers to everything except a phone issue I had. Thankfully I was resourceful enough to Google our type of office phone to find detailed instructions to undo what I had managed to figure out how to do by pure luck. I bookmarked those for future reference. I think they’ll be handy since the phone guy listed in my training manual never called me back.

There were a few different files I couldn’t find. The first one, I completely remade a form because I couldn’t find it anywhere on the computer – until I got ready to save it. I decided to keep my handiwork since I had put so much effort into it. By the time Friday rolled around, I had learned how to search specific drives for files, so the big one I needed didn’t have to be started from scratch.

I redesigned our church bulletin, streamlining things. Now, instead of finding some of the announcements inside the bulletin and others on an insert, all of them are on one insert. The sermon notes, prayer list, financials, and personnel are listed inside the bulletin instead of an insert. I talked with a few other staff members, got their input, and got permission from the senior pastor before I did it. I showed a sample bulletin to them and they said they liked it better than the old ones. Even the lady who folds the bulletins each week said she liked them better – even though she had 600 pages to fold instead of 300. She said that may have taken longer, but the inserting was much easier and faster. I know not everyone will say they like them. I’m prepared for it. (I know the lady who folds wasn’t just saying that. She speaks her mind, even to the point of telling me she didn’t like the music on my radio. She suggested I turn it off because it sounded like someone in pain. Haha! Not everyone likes contemporary Christian music.)

I also had a scare Friday afternoon. All the pastors were out, and I was there alone. The boys were doing homework across the hall. A much-awaited delivery had just come, so I texted Stephanie that it had arrived. A few minutes later she texted back asking if the boys could bring the boxes over for her. I was walking through the workroom to go across the hall when I heard someone try to open the door. (We always keep it locked.) Then the doorbell rang. I stepped into the hall, looked toward the door, and was seen – by a strange (as in unknown) man in a hoodie. Warily I walked to the door and asked if I could help, knowing full well I was not going open the door. He told me he needed to use the phone, to which I answered no pastors were in at the moment. He didn’t understand me so I repeated myself. He seemed to be getting agitated and said, “I don’t need a pastor. I need to use the phone. Mine is broken.” I replied that I couldn’t open the door at that time. He mumbled something, rolled his eyes, and stormed off. I went into my office and closed the blinds a little more – and made the wise decision that I will not step into the hall anymore when the doorbell rings. From now on, I will go back into my office and look out my one-way glass window to see who’s at the door. After about 20 minutes, Stephanie walked over from the next building (through a different set of doors) to get some copies she had printed from her computer, so the boys carried the boxes back across with her while I waited there to let them back in.

I’m still loving my job – and still learning.

The First Week

I had a great first week at my new job!

Monday was Labor Day, so I only had a four-day week to get started. Mondays are also staff meeting days, so I still have that to experience since we didn’t have one on Tuesday instead.

I had help on Tuesday. Mallory, a sweet college student who had helped fill in during the summer, helped me in the morning. Martha, the second former office manager helped me that afternoon. She’s an amazing teacher! She filled me in on things I wouldn’t think to ask about, and she made sure I could do several things on my own. At some pint during the day, I noticed the phone cord was all twisted and tangled. Ugh! Pet peeve! But I decided not to bother with it since I had assistance throughout the day.

I was on my own all day Wednesday. I took that opportunity to work on getting the bulletin and inserts for this Sunday proofread and polished, questions asked, details finalized, etc. I also had a Monk moment. Not being able to stand the twisty phone cord any longer, I unplugged it and straightened it out.

Thursday morning I finalized the bulletin and printed a sample copy, only to find I hadn’t set the printing guidelines for one of the inserts. Thankfully Martha had planned to come in that afternoon to help me with anything that had cropped up! She guided me through setting that up, then helped me print out the 300 copies for Sunday. Later on she took me on a tour of the church, making a point to show me all the many storage closets where various things were kept or could be kept. We’ve been at that church for 10 years, but I never knew there was that much storage!

Martha came in again Friday morning so she could introduce me to our bulletin folder, Pat. Pat is a sweet little (4’9″) 89-year-old church member who has been folding the bulletins almost every week for 20 years or so. She stood at the corner of my desk and folded the bulletins, stuffed them with the inserts, then put rubber bands around the 6 or 7 stacks of them to keep them from sliding around in the bug box we use to transport them to the sanctuary. I had planned to start going through the various file drawers to see what was in them and get them organized to suit me, but I didn’t want to get into that too deeply because Brian, one of our church members who handles most of our IT, was coming to get me set up on my own account on the computer. While he worked at my desk after lunch, I went into the workroom and started an afternoon-long project.

The worst part of the week was our morning routine. I took the boys to school every day (and will continue to do that next week) because Billy is in the middle of comprehensive exams. (He’s spending most of his time either testing or holed up in his library cubicle reading and preparing. Work hours have been reduced to early mornings for now.) I got up before 5:30 every morning, and by the time the boys started getting up at 6:15, I only had 10 minutes of quiet time to myself. For the whole day. I’m going to have to start getting up earlier… Once they got up and started getting ready, it was time for me to get lunches ready for all of us for the day. Sandwiches are easy; salads and homemade “lunchables”, not so much. They’re not hard, just time-consuming. Every morning, we were out the door by 7:04 at the latest. After I dropped the boys off at 7:45 or 7:50 (after sitting in the car in the parking lot for a few minutes), I headed on to work. Early. I don’t have to be in until 9:00, but I was in as early as 8:10 a few days.

Picking them up from school is okay, but it cuts into my lunch hour. It’s about a 15-minute drive to their school from the church in regular traffic, but I ran into a construction zone on my regular route there the first day. I texted a friend who works at the school to let her know I was running late. I halfway expected to see Jacob sitting there waiting for me… Thankfully the carpool line was still there – and I ended up not even being last! I’ve been looking for and trying different after-school routes to find something quicker. I just may have found it yesterday. It’ll take a few more run-through a before I determine that.after I get the boys, we go straight back to the church, grab our lunches from the refrigerator, and I eat mine as quickly as I can so I can get back to my desk. Thankfully I won’t have to do that on Mondays, and once Billy is able to help out, maybe only on Wednesdays…

The after school bit is a little tough for Jacob. He’s used to being able to ask me for help with his schoolwork whenever he needs to. No more. He’s finally starting to understand that I can’t stop my work every few minutes to help him with a math problem or a history question. It’s taken several serious talks from me and from Billy – as well as a threat of day care in the afternoons. Yesterday was much better. Still, I’m glad I only have one more full week of it.

Hopefully when things get to “normal” I’ll be able together into a more productive morning routine. As it stands now, I’m barely cooking suppers and laundry isn’t getting done until the weekend. There’s no time in the morning, and I’m too tired in the evening. It’ll balance out before long. All in all, I’m glad for my new job and Jacob’s school opportunity (which he is liking by the way).

The Job

For the first time in 13 years, I am going back to work. Tomorrow morning, I start as the new office manager at my church. I hadn’t planned to go back to work for another year, but this opportunity just fell into my lap and the timing was right. I’m excited!

That also means Jacob is starting school at Lakewood a year earlier than planned. Since he’s still in elementary school, our schedules won’t be as ideal as if he were in middle school, but we’ll just have to figure out the best way to make it work. Tomorrow is his first day as well. He’s kind of happy and excited, but mostly he’s nervous. It’s understandable since he’s only been homeschooled. I had another thought, too. When Caleb first went, he was excited and ready. He’s always been more independent. Even as a toddler, he waved to us and told us to go when we dropped him at his Sunday school class. Jacob was the one with separation anxiety, and he’s still clingy at 11 years old. He’ll do fine once he gets his first day under his belt. It’s not like he doesn’t know anyone. Two friends from church will be in his class, and he knows a few more people from hanging out at basketball games.

And to make it a trifecta, Billy’s comprehensive exams start tomorrow. Since he’ll be in he midst of those for the next two weeks, I’ll have the added responsibility of taking the boys to school and picking them up each day. Since they won’t be going to campus with him, they’ll go to back to the church with me and work on homework all afternoon.

Here’s to tomorrow, the perfect storm!

The Salon

I needed an emergency haircut this week. Nothing drastic had happened. I just needed something done in a hurry. Why isn’t important right now; that’s for another post.

I called my stylist, who I haven’t seen in almost a year, not totally sure she’d remember me even though I’ve been using her for three years. I haven’t used anyone else; I just haven’t taken the time to get my hair cut. Yes, it’s long. And I cut my own bangs. Once I figured out how to do it so they don’t look so much like I did it, it’s not so bad.

Anyway, she was booked until next week, but I couldn’t wait that long. She told me to call her back that afternoon and see how she was doing with time. She may be able to work me in after her last color job. I called; she was behind schedule. She told she might have an opening the next day, but I’d have to go to the salon where she works part time instead of to her house. No problem. It’s only 15 minutes away.

I texted her the next morning, just in case she was in the middle of something and couldn’t answer. She replied for me to call her back. She had an opening at 11:00. Then she gave me directions to where she was working. At a retirement center.

When I arrived, she was finishing up a sweet little lady’s hair: picking, fluffing, shaping, spraying, and patting. There was no one else in there.

As I took my place in the chair at the sink, the little lady who had just finished promptly sat down in one of the chairs and started taking about someone she saw in the hall, someone she was avoiding. She chatted a little and kept watching the hallway, then when her adversary finally disappeared, she announced it was safe for her to leave.

As Kim was finishing up with my trim, her next client came in and took a seat, starting to talk immediately. I half expected her to ask me why a young whippersnapper such as myself was getting her hair cut at a retirement home. (I was still feeling a little uneasy about it all…) Instead she talked about losing her phone charger and wondering if she had “all-timers” until she suddenly found it again. I just sat and smiled…

Before I knew it, Kim was finished with me. (I always get a wash and cut, no drying or styling since I go home and immediately wash my hair again. I hate going through the day with tiny cut hairs poking and scratching me…) I paid her and made my way to the front door, wondering if I’d be stopped and questioned for not fitting in. The only person I saw was the sweet little lady from earlier, looking pretty with her fresh hairdo. She smiled and we said goodbye as I walked out the door.

It was surreal and entertaining, but I prefer Kim’s own shop to the retirement center salon. I’ll be sure not to wait so long again.

Back to Bags

The next time I need a new vacuum, I’m going back to the old style with bags. They may not be as politically correct or whatever, but they’ve got to be better than the ones with multiple filters and canisters that need to be cleaned and emptied after each use. Have you seen the dust and crud that fills the air when you clean them out? It’s ridiculous, and I shouldn’t have to hold my breath every time I do it. I really need to wear a mask. That is so unhealthy!

A few months ago, well after I needed new filters but kept forgetting to look for them, I finally thought to get some. Guess what? They’re nearly impossible to find. There were a few different styles of one of the filters, but I couldn’t remember which model my vacuum was. The other filter was nowhere to be found. Well, maybe. Maybe it was there. I think I didn’t realize I had two filters to change at that time. Whatever the issue, we ended up having to order them online. And we only remembered that when I was vacuuming last time and hoping it wouldn’t overheat (as usual) and not come back on for the rest of the day.

Today I needed some heavy duty cleaning in the boys’ room. We’re working on getting their room cleaned out (finished!) and rearranged. Toys and clothes have been purged and reorganized. Some smaller furniture has been moved out. The bunk beds are coming down and becoming two twin beds. Anyway, I needed to vacuum where things were that we’ve moved out. I also needed to get along the baseboards.

I didn’t want the vacuum to quit on me halfway through, so I decided to change out the filters. Ugh! What a mess! Dust went everywhere. I couldn’t figure out how to get one of the filters out. When I finally succeeded at that and had the new filter in place, I had trouble getting that part of the unit closed again. Then I couldn’t figure out how to get to the other filter. Once I finally got that accomplished, I had broken quite a sweat. And I felt like I had that nasty dust sticking to me. It was then that I swore to go back to bag vacuums as soon as I get the chance… The main reason? They’re enclosed and I don’t have to breathe that junk every time I vacuum and empty the canister!

I got the boys ‘ room vacuumed with no problems. The sucking power of the vacuum was remarkably strong. But not strong enough to make me change my mind on bagless vacuums. Especially when I had to empty the canister at the end. Fuzz and lint had clogged part of the canister near the filter, and I had to pull it out with my hands. It wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last, but one day I won’t have to do that at all anymore. So gross! So unhealthy! They say the bagless are better, but I’m not convinced.

Counting the Days

ALDI is coming to a town near us! Actually it’s already in several towns near us, but this one will be the closest – a mere 10 minutes away versus 25.

I’ve known about it for a while. There were rumors floating around, then it was confirmed. This was maybe a year ago? Then there was all the hooplah and red tape about getting a traffic light put in at the intersection where it was supposed to be built. The new Kroger Marketplace came along, with a traffic light of its own. Finally the new light at the proposed ALDI site was put up.

I’d drive by occasionally to check the progress. Construction was ongoing, but there was nothing there to prove it was ALDI. About two weeks ago I drove by again, curious about progress and if there were any signs up. No signs, but the corner of the building has the distinct ALDI shape. Yes!!!

I’m hopeful it’ll be open this fall. I’m so ready to shop my favorite grocery store without having to drive nearly half an hour to get there. There are other grocery stores closer: Brookshire’s, Walmart, and the new Kroger “mall”. Where I go depends on what I need, how I feel about fighting crowds, and how much time I want to spend in the store. Soon though…

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