A tale of two weeks: week 2

I've survived my spring break; now I have my first week back, while my husband tries to survive his.

Week of March 17-23
Monday we moved the appliances and all the kitchen stuff back into the kitchen, packed up all my stuff from the previous week, all my husband's stuff for the forthcoming week (his spring break), all my parents' stuff for their trip to visit my sister, and a bunch of extra boxes to move to our other house. We packed up the fridge so we'd have something to eat when we got back to Indiana, and put it all into 3 cars. We put one more poly coat on the floor, cleaned, and made it out of the house by 3. Because of the time change we were in West Lafayette by 6:30. It rained the whole drive. We unloaded everything into the new house in the rain, and went to find dinner. The place we went to was closed. We went to another place that was open, but not very appetizing. We went to bed.

Tuesday the electrician came to upgrade our house to 200 A service, and my parents left until Friday. And I had to go back to work. My new computer had arrived over break, but I didn't have time to play with it. My day was spent attending that grant meeting from the previous week, talking with folks about all the recruiting stuff, meeting with a student who decided she wanted to apply for an internship and needed a letter by Friday, and finally yoga. My husband spent the day cleaning up all the boxes and dealing with trying to do his own work while the power kept going out. After yoga, I tried to migrate all my stuff on my old computer to my new computer, but it got stuck. For 12 hours. No work was done that evening.

Wednesday the electrician was back. I had a search committee meeting, and then a frantic set of meetings trying to prepare our final visit schedule for our seminar speaker who was flying in THAT NIGHT and I hadn't even had the courtesy of sending her her schedule in advance. Rooms hadn't been booked, people hadn't been lined up, or they thought they had been lined up at other times and weren't, and so on. I had my writing group meeting, and a faculty meeting, and another meeting about making our departmental research more visible, and then another meeting with another student who wanted to apply for that same internship. And during all this, edits to our grant questions were going back and forth. And my old computer still won't migrate to my new computer. I had choir rehearsal in the evening for our performance on Sunday.

Thursday the geothermal people showed up, at the same time as the electrician who wanted to turn the power off until the inspector came. The geothermal loop people were scheduled to come "either today or tomorrow" but ended up coming today. I called the computer help people, who thought my old computer was fragmented and wanted to take it *and* the new computer away to fix it. They thought they'd have it back by the end of the day, and I had the bad judgement to let them take it. I find out the second student I met with is not eligible for the internship, so I don't have to write him a letter. The first student is, though, so I still have to write hers. I had a research group meeting, and hosted the seminar for our speaker (the fabulous Jennifer Turns), and tried to write on the grant questions, that FIE paper, and my annual report on someone else's computer.

The computer wasn't fixed by the end of the day. No "work" again was done in the evening. And my husband melted down because of the disaster of our backyard, his own private freak-out about not getting enough work done over his spring break, and how we were then going to spend the rest of the upcoming weekend demolitioning the basement with my parents who were due to return the next day. Oh yeah, and the backhoe in the backyard? Had torn up the neighbors' yard in the process - the neighbor I hadn't yet had a chance to warn. Did I mention our backyard looked horrendous? Like this, in fact:

So I went into manic mode again - told my husband to make a list of the things he needed to work on over the next week and assign them to days, called my folks to call off the demo, wrote an apologetic note to the neighbors, took my husband to dinner at an unexpectedly nice restaurant, and went grocery shopping. Because, in case I didn't mention, I had planned to have between 9-11 people to dinner Friday night.

Friday I was in early to try to get edits on all these documents finished up and that letter of recommendation sent in. I had another research group meeting, and chaired a meeting on diversity in the college. I then went home to cook and clean. The geothermal people had been there to finish up with the installation. Still no word on my computer. My husband was doing better re work, and actually got a run in. The computer people call - it turns out they need my computer over the weekend. !!! So I rush in to work with a jump drive and get my grant information, my paper information, my grad recruiting docs, and my annual report docs, rush back home, and start final prep for the guests who start arriving about 6:30.

Friday night dinner consisted of... Appetizers: warm olives, cheese (good stuff too - St Aubray, a spanish blue, Muenster...) and crackers; Mains: mushroom risotto, asparagus and pea ragout, and baked squash; Dessert: apple crisp with creme fraiche. Coffee and chocolate for afters. People seemed to have a good time, and stayed until my parents arrived at 11 from Philly - then that revitalized the conversation, and we didn't get to bed until about 1 am. Which, I should add, the same blow-up mattress we slept on all the previous weekend, but because we are trying to avoid excessive energy/resource use, we moved all our sheets to.

Saturday, blessedly, was quieter. My mom and I went to the library to get gardening books, and started scheming, my husband graded, my dad called up a colleague of his and went off to see his lab. Dinner was leftovers.

Sunday morning my parents left. I had a solo in our choir performance, but also found out our minister is leaving for a bigger congregation - very very disappointing. We discover ants invading our living room. And odd clanks in the new geothermal heating. And my husband had to drive back to our other house. So I was alone for the first time in 2 weeks. But still no computer, of course. I went to work to work on the grant/annual report/paper, but couldn't find a computer to work on - I ended up on a student computer in an office I couldn't find the light switch in, so I was working in the dark. Spent a few hours there, sent off responses to the email that had come in over the weekend, and went home to the catastrophe of the house. I confess to watching Jane Austen that evening. And remade my own bed from the air mattress.

In the end, I got my annual report in only 3 days late, we sent in the response to the granting agency, the paper was submitted, I'm getting comments back on the stuff I need for recruiting, we have a new geothermal furnace and kitchen floor, and I have a new computer (meet Ada, after Ada Lovelace). So this is all mostly good, but exhausting.

So far, this week is doing better, although perhaps I'm saying that because I'm at home now - my meetings for today have been canceled, and I desperately need some time to work on a paper, some IRB proposals, and my talk for that conference. As well as sort out a dentist bill that my insurance decided not to pay, the water filtration system in the basement the installer of which knows no information about it, and hiring a landscaper. And going to the grocery store again. On top of all this, I haven't even written about major life changes we've been talking about all this time. Ack.

I'm just gasping, rather. I cannot imagine trying to do all this with kids around. Which is scary, as we want to have kids. But how are there enough hours in the day?

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It's a simple case of continually being in triage mode. But your week does sound pretty horrendous.

I cannot imagine trying to do all this with kids around. Which is scary, as we want to have kids. But how are there enough hours in the day?

There aren't. You just become really, really good at prioritizing, because you have no choice. You learn as you go.

Sorry to hear you had such a hectic few weeks! Hope things calm down for you soon.

I'm just gasping, rather. I cannot imagine trying to do all this with kids around. Which is scary, as we want to have kids. But how are there enough hours in the day?
You just do not take on that much at once - in fact it takes 4 - 6 years to complete your basement reno (I am on year 5 and I am hiring most of it out - even that takes too much time - hoping for a high efficiency furnace next).
Priorities change - but I love your new floor! Your house looks adorable.

I think the simple answer is that there are not enough hours in the day to do all of the things you describe and have kids. In my experience, many of the extracurricular activities you describe are dispensible (at least when there are infants/toddlers in the house): yoga, choir, therapy, dinner parties, picnics, gardening, non-essential home improvements -- even blogging. Streamlining your life to the essential roles -- parent, spouse, academic -- opens up vistas of uncluttered time to write papers, change diapers, and still have dinner as a family (especially if you order in!).

By Neuro-conservative (not verified) on 26 Mar 2008 #permalink

Man, you did a great job getting things done in two weeks! We're awful at the 'timely' home improvement, but it is always worth it. We're across town, and I have to tell you, we have been in our home for almost three years and JUST THIS WEEK got our first bout of ants - in the living room! I'm hoping it's just because of the unseasonably wet weather. Congrats again on all that hard work.