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Archive for the ‘Frustration’ Category

I’ve always loved public libraries. I remember going as a child. I’d check out a hefty stack of books and proudly carry them to the desk, check them out on my own card, then carry them to the car. I’d read all the way home and would usually have 3 or 4 books finished by the time we got there. By the end of the day, I would have finished my whole stack. I’d be ready to go back the next day, but I’d have to wait until the next week. While I waited, I’d read them again and again. 

During my junior high and high school years, we lived in a rural area. When we made trips “into town”, we didn’t make it to the library because it wasn’t the part of town we were going to. I resorted to buying my own books (and bags of mixed nuts from Morrow’s Nut House) at the mall with my allowance. During the school year, I’d get books from the school library. My senior year, I spent one of my free hours working in the library. It wasn’t a terribly busy place, so I spent a lot of time lining up the books with the edges of the shelves. Sound boring? Not for someone like me! I loved being able to see all the books the library had. I was introduced to many contemporary authors that way: Robin Cook, Victoria Holt, and others. 

I didn’t have much time for reading for pleasure when I was in college, but I did work in the campus library. I worked in the back and helped process the new books that came in. Whenever my department was slow or my supervisor was out, I got to work with other departments. I don’t know why I didn’t think to pursue a degree in library science…

At some point in my adult life, I rediscovered the public library. I know one was in the downtown area, and I didn’t like going to it. I feel almost certain that I visited a different local branch, but I can’t recall it. On the other hand, I do remember countless visits to Books-A-Million…

When we moved to the Dallas area, I sought out several libraries in the cities surrounding us. I still have (expired) library cards from larger cities and smaller towns on the north and east sides of the Metroplex. I’d take the boys weekly for story time and more often in the summer when their special programs were in full force. As they got older and I homeschooled them, we joined a wonderful kids’ book club that our 4-H leader led. I read with them as well as on my own. 

The boys are enrolled in a small Christian school now. They don’t have as much time for reading for pleasure during the school year, but during the summers I make sure they have something to spend time reading each day. But we still visit the library frequently during the school year. Each trimester the high school students must write a lengthy research paper. (Yes, that’s three research papers each school year; twelve during their high school career.) In the search for resources, we visit the library and check out obscure books (for difficult historical and literary topics).

Caleb’s winter trimester research paper was on slavery and the 13th Amendment. We checked out six books, which he kept in a stack on his desk when he wasn’t using them. Once he had turned in his paper and he knew he wouldn’t need to refer to the books for anything, he brought all six downstairs and put them on the table. I put them in a crate in the trunk of my car. A few days later I stopped off at the library and put the books in the book drop since they were closed. One, two, three, four, five, six. Later that week when I checked my account online, records showed one of the books hadn’t been turned in. I knew better, but I thought maybe they were just slow in processing them. Not long after that, I got my regular email notification that my books would be coming due in a few days. That book was still listed as being checked out to me. I was busy, and I had time to renew it and deal with it later, so I did. And again. And again.

I stopped off at the library a few weeks ago to finally check on what to do about it. The lady at the circulation desk requested and shelf check for the book at all four branches. She told me to watch my account. If they found the book, they would take it off my account; otherwise I would be responsible for it.

Last week, I got another email notification about a book coming due. It hadn’t been found and was still on my account, so I stopped by on Saturday afternoon to follow up on it. I talked to a different lady at the circulation desk (on purpose). She checked my account again and said a shelf check showed the book had not been found. I had to pay for it. I told her that I knew I had returned it and that I had put it in the book drop on the side of the building; unfortunately there was no way I could prove it.  I wanted them to check around the book drop area just in case it had gotten lodged somewhere. (It was a really thick book.) But no. I could pay it or lose my library privileges when the final renewal ran out in three weeks. 

I sighed, loudly unzipped my wallet, and tossed down $32 cash and two quarters. While the clerk painstakingly wrote out my receipt, I debated whether I wanted to check out the books I had chosen. I muttered, “Well, I won’t be using the book drop anymore.” She ignored me and continued writing the receipt. Then she handed it to me along with my new printout of books I had checked out. I was tempted to stick those books in the book return window as I walked past, but I kept them.

Still, it would be easier to just download ebooks and let them automatically be removed from my device when time is up. As much as I still enjoy the feel of an actual book in my hands (which I think I blogged about long ago), it’s not worth the headache if I have to deal with the library losing books that are in my name. 

Then again, if this is the only bad experience I’ve had in the nearly 13 years I’ve been using that particular library, the odds are pretty good it won’t happen again. The whole experience just leaves a bad taste in my mouth, though. I don’t want to take the risk.

I will continue to check out books from there, but I will not use the outside book drop anymore. I’ll make the library trips only during operating hours. It’s really not that inconvenient. It’s only five minutes from home and from work. But if it happens again, I really will have to come up with another option. 

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Basketball practice times aren’t ideal, but we’ve got good carpool situations to make them easier to handle.

Early morning practices have me getting out of bed at 5:00, leaving at 5:15 with Caleb, meeting his ride at 5:30, then coming home to get ready for the day.

Since Mondays aren’t school days, practices are mid-afternoon: 2:00-4:00. It’s a little tough for working parents, but we figured out a system. Lori brings Jackson to the church and takes Jacob with her so he can hang out with Aidan. Stephanie takes Jackson and Caleb with her, picks up Andy, and takes them all to school for practice. Billy picks up Caleb, Jackson, and sometimes Andy, then takes Jackson home and picks up Jacob. If he has Andy, he brings him by the church before heading home with the boys. We call it the Teenage Shuffle. It’s crazy and confusing, but it works.

Well, all except for Jacob and Aidan doing their homework. They’re in the same class (except for math), so you’d think they’d get a little studying done or work on their writing assignments together. No. Jacob keeps insisting on taking some work with him to Aidan’s, but it never gets done. Then it makes us have a late night – especially since Monday nights are cooking nights for me. Tonight, after much frustration, I told him he wouldn’t be able to go to Aidan’s if he doesn’t have ALL his work done beforehand. That wasn’t met well, but he’s got motivation now. We’ll see…

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Grocery shopping on my short day is good only because it’s a shorter day and I can make it home at my usual time.

It’s not good for several reasons:

1. It’s Friday afternoon.

2. I have to spend my “free” time at the grocery store.

3. We’ve (hopefully) got a good part of the weekend at home, so that means everyone (me, too) gets snacky and goes through the groceries like they’re starving – which means there’s not a whole lot left by Monday.

4. Menu planning, which used to happen over the weekend, now gets forgotten completely. As I’m shopping, I’m thinking What’s going on next week, and what on earth will I cook? I end up grabbing flour tortillas, black beans, corn, and cheese so we can have Black Bean Quesadillas, which everyone likes (for now…) and doesn’t require a lot of prep or cooking time.

5. I completely forget about veggie side dishes, even if they’re salads. I didn’t have that problem when I was in my produce co-op. Things were chosen for me, and I planned around what I received. Since I’m sitting out for this rotation, I’m realizing how much I depended on it and how much I miss it. I’ve got to figure a way to make it work next time around!

There is hope. Our local ALDI should be opening soon. I could go to that location on Friday afternoons, or I could choose to go on Saturday mornings early. That wouldn’t solve all my problems, but it would be helpful. Now if they’d just open already. I first heard about it more than a year ago. Since then the Kroger “mall” was built and opened and is thriving.

I had heard ALDI would be open in September; it’s now almost halfway through October… For a few weeks, I’d drive by every week to check on its progress, but that became a disappointing ritual because it’s hard to tell anything when all the work is going on inside. With every pass by, I’d tell the boys, “Well, it doesn’t look like anything has happened yet.” I didn’t drive by this week. I think I’ll just wait until I see it on Facebook.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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Yesterday was a day of errands. And drama.

Caleb had a high school thing a church, watching a movie and discussing the theological implications of it. While he did that, Jacob and I ran a few errands, had lunch, then went to the library.

As I was leaving from a stoplight, I heard this horrible, loud noise outside. I thought it was the truck beside me, but as it passed me, I realized the noise was coming from my car. I told Jacob, “Oh, no, I think I have a flat!” Thankfully I was in the right lane and there was QT on the next corner. I pulled in and found an out-of-the-way place to park.

I got out, walked around to the passenger side, and looked at both tires. The front one was flat. Jacob got out to look and said, “Wow! It looks like it’s melted!” I contacted Billy and he left work to meet me. I texted Caleb and one of the youth leaders so they would know what was going on and so we could figure out what to do with Caleb until one of us could get there to pick him up. Then Jacob and hung out inside QT for about 20 minutes…

While Billy was working to change the flat, I commented that the rear tire looked low. It was. Then we found out the spare was flat. The air pump was on the other side of the parking lot, so Billy drove my car over there to air them up so I could go to our local (as in three cities away) NTB to see about getting my tires checked and fixed.

It was then that I became THAT person. You know the one. They drive about 10 miles per hour below the speed limit on the highway. As we were driving along and Jacob was watching everyone passing us rather speedily, he commented, “I feel kind of special.”

“Good special or bad special?” I asked. I was feeling pretty bad special myself. Especially since there was a semi bearing down on me. I was trying to focus on the road and find my hazard lights at the same time. Once I found them, I felt better about being pokey – but not much. At least people had some warning I was driving slower than normal and could get around me without driving up my tailpipe…

“Kind of both,” Jacob answered. “We’re going really slow, but we get the whole lane to ourselves.” Perspective. 🙂

About 25 minutes a later, we had arrived. We walked in and told the man at the counter what the problem was. Billy and Caleb got there while he was outside looking over things. The man walked back in and said, “I can’t fix either of your tires. In fact I couldn’t fix three of the four. The tread is too worn.”

Two hours later, I had a set of new tires on a car with nearly 200,000 miles on it. And since it was late in the day and the guys working on my car were in too big a hurry to leave to check the alignment like the work order said, I get 1/2 off the alignment if it’s needed, whenever I take my car back in for it. And the tires we bought come with discounted car care services, so I get 30% off oil changes. I’m due for one, so I think I’ll get that and the alignment done in the next week or so.

Thankfully all this didn’t happen last week when we had the boys’ out-of-state friends over for a few days!

At least some good came out of the situation. And now that I have new tires, I don’t have to worry about being THAT person again for a while. I hope.

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