On April 28, 2007, my husband and I tied the knot. On May 4, we jumped in the car and drove through rain, snow, hail and tornado warnings to our new home on the other side of the country. We had rented an apartment in February, but when we were in Indiana we got a disturbing phone call — the former tenants still hadn’t moved out.
Um. What? We would arrive in two days and didn’t have a place to live?! What a happy, stress-free way to start married life. Not.
Thankfully with the help my husband’s brother and his wife we had a place to stay (their basement) for a week, with the help of Craigslist we found an even better apartment and with a nod toward our ability to cope with challenging situations, we made it through this situation pretty much unscathed.
Now here we are, three years later. We own our first home. We have different jobs than we might have expected that we (mostly) love. We have made some new and wonderful friends. And I am so excited about what the future has in store for us on our journey through this crazy world, honey! The places we’ll go, the wine we’ll drink, the meals we’ll cook and the love we’ll share!
I didn’t think that the unpronounceable Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajökull (whew, what a mouthful), would have much impact on our lives here in DC. It was short-sighted of me perhaps, but we did not have any travel plans nor did we know anyone stranded on either side of the ash cloud. Or so we thought…
On Sunday, April 18 we were lounging around in bed when my husband’s phone rang. I am not sure if he could sense it was an important call, but he actually hopped out of bed and quickly made his way downstairs to following the ring of his phone. I could hear him reach it at the exact moment it went to voicemail.
“Unavailable,” he said, when I asked who had called. So we went about our Sunday morning routine without giving it another thought. I was still under the weather from my cold, so I stayed home in bed when he headed off to church. He called a few minutes later to let me know that the unavailable call had been his grad school roommate (who’s Norwegian) calling from Lebanon to let us know that his sister, her fiance and their son were stranded in DC thanks to Eyjafjallajökull’s ash spewing — could they possibly stay with us?
We knew that the answer was an unequivocal yes, but we had no way to get in touch with our friend (who was amidst his own traveling) or his sister (who we had not met before). After a few hours of fretting and a hurried exchange of emails, we got through to our friend and he passed our contacts to his sister. She called later that afternoon. Although she seemed reluctant to intrude, we convinced them that they were most welcome to stay with us, and my husband picked them all up from a hotel in a questionable neighborhood a few hours later. We later learned said hotel had an even more questionable breakfast buffet that included pizza and fried chicken.
Over the past eight days we have shared meals, stories, adventures and their son’s first birthday. We’ve learned that our house is very much not baby-proof (thankfully no one has been hurt in the process). And we have been able to try some Norwegian (bacalhau) and English (fish pie) delicacies. Despite being quite unexpected, the experience has been a joyful one and when they head back to Norway on Tuesday, 10 days after their originally scheduled flight, we will be sad to see them go.
You may recall the seedlings that I started a little over a month ago from the Spring post. It was all was going exceptionally well. Nearly everything was growing, which I thought was pretty good for 40 different pods. Cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, a variety of herbs — the plants were sprouting like mad!
After a few weeks in their tiny pods, it seemed like the plants with the most progress needed more breathing room, so I transferred them to slightly larger pots with fresh potting soil, allowing them to spread their wings.
Then disaster struck.
I had gotten in the habit of moving the seedlings from the warmth of the house to the pedestal on our front porch so that they would get lots of sun during the day. Silly me for not realizing that on April 7 it would be nearly 90 degrees. I spent the day walking around with The Visitors and when we got home I was devastated to see that nearly all the seedlings looked dead.
I quickly carried them back into the shade of the porch and watered them with care, hoping that at least some of them could be revitalized. It had been going so well — cucumbers, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, chili peppers, bell peppers, oregano, sage, basil, dill, cilantro — it was all going to be ours! Until I fried them. And really, frying the veggies may not have been so bad, but the seedlings don’t take kindly to that sort of treatment.
I am glad to say that the larger plants did come back to life and were transferred into the garden plot over the weekend, where I promptly forgot to thin them (hey, I was sick, I can’t remember everything!). Thankfully my husband followed in my footsteps and moved the little plants around so that they would be happier in their new permanent home. However, it took four days before I went back to water them — does this make me a bad plant mommy? In fact, gardening is the only thing that makes me hope for rain in the spring and summer because then mother nature does the work for me!
And, of course, it rained 30 minutes after I watered this morning.
It’s been awhile since I posted and while I hate to make excuses, I do have some good ones. First, we had guests (hence The Visitor post) and then I jetted away for a long weekend in Kansas to visit a friend finishing up veterinary school there. First I did the touristy thing here at home, walking a brisk 6 miles with our visiting friends, seeing monuments, museums and lots of other tourists! Then it was off to Manhattan, Kansas where I saw some very realistic fake buffalo at a photo opp point and spent a lot of time sitting around and eating. All very good things.
Both opportunities were wonderful chances to catch up with friends I seldom see and I happily embraced the time away from the delicate glow of my computer screen. But now I am in my third day back to reality and figured I should get an update posted, even if it isn’t terribly exciting — you can probably sense my reluctance given the rambling introduction.
There’s nothing like a vacation to get you to work. Since my return to domestic life Monday evening, I have done three loads of laundry, two sinkfulls of dishes, had a two-hour planning meeting with a client, two phone conferences (one prospective and one follow-up), returned about a million emails and added roughly 15 projects with their various deadlines to my calendar (a Herculean task in itself, really).
It’s nice to feel I have accomplished something. Yet, at the same time, most of these are still only in the beginning stages and are calling for more attention. I need to fold the laundry, put away the clean dishes, accomplish those 15 projects, meet my deadlines … Well, you get the point.
Having a productive week upon my return to reality — sadly, I couldn’t bring any fake bison back with me, they would have made nice office mates — has been a nice way to dive back in. Although the sun is calling me to take walks and sit on the porch watching the world go by, it seems that I will be spending most days during the coming months sun-bathing in the glow of my computer monitor not enjoying the warmth of the sun.
The impending arrival of house guests always leads to a flurry of activity as we try to make the house “presentable” (a task that I think we accomplished during the weekend). But unfortunately our house guests didn’t come this weekend, they arrive tonight. In the last two days we have managed to leave shoes all over the house (who knew we could wear so many pairs in two days?), multiple outfits all over the bedroom and (new) piles of papers have started stacking up all over the office … and that’s just the obvious stuff.
Housewifery duties have been seriously neglected this week due to an increased volume of work and meetings. Also an increased volume of heat has sucked all desire to do manual labor from my body (what little was there to begin with) and left me wanting to move as little as humanly possible.
So here we are, a few hours from our guests arrival and I could get up and make a last ditch effort to make this place 100% presentable, but I am not going to. I have a feeling that soon we will all be distracted by laughter and good times, and the pile of papers that need to be filed are going to be long forgotten.
9. The Goal: Try to make your home a place of peace and order where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.
So here we are, at “The Goal.” It’s about time I wrapped up my 1954 “Good Housewife Challenge.” Let’s see how I measured up against the “tips” that inspired me to start this blog:
Tip #1: Have dinner ready. While I don’t make dinner often, I got a gold star out of sheer luck (and a little hard work).
Tip #2: Prepare yourself. I didn’t “measure up” to this one, but I’m betting Jazzercise is better for me and him than putting a ribbon in my hair.
Tip #3: Clear away the clutter. I’ve managed to tackle this one fairly well.
Tip #4: Prepare the children. The closest thing we’ve got to children are always well prepared and quiet (if sometimes irascible).
Tip #5: Minimize all noise. I’m a master at this one since I’m rarely home when he gets home!
Tip #6: Some don’ts. Yeah … this one ain’t happening. I’m not moving to Stepford!
Tip #7: Listen to him. This one I do to the extent he’s willing to talk — then he’s got to listen to me!
Tip #8: Make the evening his. Since his perfect evening is home with me, I’ve got no problem mastering this one.
Looking back over those eight posts, I can see that I may not stack up well against the 1954 standard of a good housewife. But I think that just shows how much we’ve evolved since then. Besides, I would wager two bits that my husband is just as happy that I don’t measure up to a 1954 housewife as I am. Instead of fretting about the ways in which I don’t make the 1950’s grade (e.g., Tip 6 with it’s soothing voices and shoe removal…), I thought I would start a list of what makes a good spouse (not wife) in this millennium:
• Be flexible — If someone usually makes dinner and someone else usually does dishes that’s great, but there will nights where one person does both or where the roles are reversed. Go with it. I’m learning to handle this one better.
• Be a “looker” — I don’t mean this in terms of physical appearance. I am frequently asked to look for my husband’s house keys, nail clippers, etc. But quickly getting back to “be flexible,” he’s been helping me find a bunch of misplaced things recently…
• Be supportive — Whether it is about work, home, family or thinking you look fat in a certain pair of pants, a good partner should be ready to listen and, when you are ready to hear them, offer suggestions about how to deal with the problem. Except when you think you look fat in your pants, then there is no helpful suggestion, only “no you don’t – you look great!” is necessary.
• Talk. All the time. About everything. Communicating is key and habitual. If you don’t talk about the mundane, you probably won’t talk about the important stuff either.
• Have fun together. Whether sharing time together while completing a tedious task (like cleaning the bathroom) or going on a traveling adventure (out of the country or just down the street), laughing together is going to create better memories than not.
With only three years of married life behind me, I am sure there is much more to learn and add to this list. But I can guarantee that my list will never include removing my husband’s shoes and making sure that the children stay quiet so he isn’t disturbed after his hard day at work. There’s so many better ways of being a good spouse.