The Weekly Ramble 8/27/23

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Whew. It’s been a week. The first week of school has always been wild, but throw in a wannabe hurricane and well, I used a fair bit of emotional energy these last seven days.

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As you know by now, the hype of the hurricane was a little too much. I wasn’t worried about our safety, just being able to use the water and electricity.

Turns out it was just rain. Of which we’ve had a lot of this past year. Thankfully, that was all it was, but dang if I want to use my adrenaline that way again.

Fish and the boys were home on Monday as their campus was closed, but my girls still had the first day of class via the Internet. I baked an apple crisp in honor of the 1st day of school, just like we’ve done for a really long time.

On Tuesday and Thursday, I played Uber driver to the community college where that little girl (almost 17!) is now taking a class that counts double duty for both high school and college.

Several of the boys did the same thing and we put them on the train, but things have changed in the last few years so it doesn’t feel safe to send a high schooler on her way alone.

An added bonus is that I get extra time with my girl. She’ll be graduating in May, so these days are pretty special.

Not to forget Wednesday… I ran errands and made the mistake of shopping at a Costco that is not my regular Costco. Oh my. Not recommended.

I also treated myself to lunch at Burger Lounge. Their onion rings are so good!

Friday/Saturday we celebrated FishBaby’s 15th birthday. Wow. Time flies! We tooled around Friday collecting her birthday freebies and then Saturday, she picked the day’s menu: Cinnamon Rolls, Costco Pizza, and Asian Frozen Food.

(With a peanut allergy, she can’t ever go to an Asian restaurant and experience has told us it’s too much to make homemade.)

That’s the gist of the week. It was full!

But this Weekly Ramble is more about the systems I’ve been implementing and/or refining this week.

overhead view of college work station with bag, purse, computer, water bottle, and iPad.

A System for Remote Work for My WFH Job

Since I’ll be driving to the community college twice a week where there is a 4-story library and ample free wifi, I am looking forward to having several hours to myself to work remotely, without interruptions.

I’ve learned that people need you if you’re around. If you’re not around, they find a way to manage themselves.

Sometimes what’s best for a work-from-home job is to work remotely from somewhere else. Ha!

There have been seasons of this in the past:

  • When I first started freelance writing back in 2006, I would get every Saturday morning off from home and kid duty. It was bliss!

  • During the Era of the Cookbooks, I would often take one night a week to work from Starbucks or lock myself in my office and pretend I wasn’t there.

  • The past few summers my girls have volunteered for 4 weeks at a church camp 30 minutes away. I pack up my stuff and work in a nearby cafe. Love it!

I get so much more done because the time is limited and I have to focus.

I also have to be prepared for the day with a water bottle, tea/coffee, snacks, a sweater, and anything I might need for actual work like resource materials, devices, and chargers.

A System for Finding a Rental Home

The search continues! While we haven’t found The One, Fish and I have worked out a system for our house hunting.

screenshot of digital folders in woodnotes app.

Here’s how that’s working:

  • After finding a few too many scams on other listing apps, we landed on Zillow as our app of choice. We both have it loaded to our devices for easy searching.

  • Early on, we agreed on our search criteria (pie-in-the-sky v. the-bare-minimum) and have those plugged into the app as saved searches.

  • When new or updated listings come up, we check them out and discuss.

  • Since our timeline is so far out — the owners of this home won’t release us from the lease early — every discussion has been more hypothetical than actual. We talk about the distance to work, colleges, and church as well as places like the gym and the grocery stores. Gotta know how far to my beloved ALDI and Ralphs.

  • We know our credit scores and monthly household income numbers so we can rattle them off when asked.

  • Since I now complete all documents digitally, I have a folder in my GoodNotes app for all our information, docs, and submitted applications.

One of the new things about house hunting, probably thanks to COVID, is that many homes are set up for self-guided tours. You request a showing, they vet your ID, and you receive a confirmation text.

Once at the home, you text the serial number of the lockbox and in return receive a one-time code to open the lockbox, access the key, and view the property. This makes it so nice to see some a place and not have to guard your conversation.

Obviously, this only happens when a home is vacant. We’ve seen two homes this way so far and it’s been nice and stress-free.

We saw a third empty house with the realtor present and it was definitely not the same experience. It was also a creepy, overpriced house with sticky cabinets and bars on the front door. [unfavorites that one in the Zillow app]

That was an interesting drive home. lol!

We applied to one home already and are waiting to hear back. So fingers crossed the search will end sooner rather than later — and that I won’t need to hone this system for another 14 years. 😉

clutter and moving boxes in office, in the midst of packing.

A System for Getting Rid of Stuff

Oy! So. much. stuff.

I don’t think the problem is that we’ve lived in this house for so long. I’m pretty good at regular dejunking. For years I did it on a monthly basis.

I think the problem is that this house is so big! I never realized how big it was because our previous rental and the rental my brothers had at the same time were both as big or bigger than this 3000-square-foot house.

3000 square feet! Rentals this size are on the rare side, especially for our price range. Many of what we’re currently looking at are not as big.

So, there’s stuff. Lots of stuff. that will need to go away.

I’ve divested at least two van loads so far this summer, but there’s so much more to do. Here’s what’s helping:

  • knowing where things are hidden – As a child of two generations of hoarders, I’ve made it my mission not to collect things, but there’s still stuff packed away in closets that we no longer need: early homeschool records, tax papers, hockey equipment, etc.

  • making an emotional break from stuff before I dig it all out – Prior to cleaning out 21 years of homeschool stuff, I made a decision not to get emotional about things. I went in with a plan and just pulled stuff off the shelves. I did the same with the dozens of baby afghans that people made and we never used as well as afghans and quilts from distant relatives that I don’t love or use. Just bag it all up and move it out!

  • going digital – I tell ya, I love that I kissed paper clutter goodbye. I didn’t know how amazing it could be. I still have some work to do on that system, but knowing that I can let go of old papers is amazing. Knowing that I am not creating MORE STACKS of soon-to-be-old papers is even more amazing. It’s encouraging to know that I’m not going to have to do this again sometime soon. I still have some old computers to declutter, but that’s for another year. 😉

  • deciding ahead of time where it’s going – Before I tackled the homeschool books, I reached out to local moms with kids younger than mine to see who wanted it. Before I dug into the baby things, I made a decision it would get donated. I already know where the deep fryer, 17-year-old curtains, and stuffed animals in storage are going. It’s just a question of yanking it out and hauling it to Goodwill. No hemming and hawing or getting distracted by the where.

  • listening to podcasts and audiobooks on decluttering – Not only do I hear someone else’s story and get entertained while tackling an unpleasant task, but I also learn some new tricks and strategies to make the job easier. I’ll be sharing more in-depth reviews soon, but I’ve found material by both Cait Flanders and Dana K. White to be helpful.

So, that’s what’s going on in my brain and house this week. I’ve been decluttering my schedule a little more in the hopes that I can get into The Zone a little more seriously for organizing our move. Only 5 weeks left!

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