Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to everyone! We celebrated last night by making roast duck (using the recipe from Barefoot in Paris- Ina Garten, you haven't failed us yet!!) and drinking the delightfully declasse Sofia champagne from the cans. Well, we did pour them into our snooty Vera Wang flutes before drinking, but still. Today, following tradition, I made black eyed pea salsa and will be making greens to go with our pot roast tonight. All in all, 2005 was a pretty good year for us, and we did black eyed peas and greens last year, so who are we to mess with superstition?

DH and I are finally back from our trip back to my hometown for Christmas. The trip went fairly well- no screaming temper tantrums from my mom this year. There were a few major events, though.

First, my parents started demolition on part of their house as Phase I of their big remodeling project. A few years ago, they moved to a nice neighborhood in the city where the houses were old and tiny and the lots were huge (my parents have a 3/4 acre lot!). It's the kind of neighborhood where developers will buy the old, tiny houses, knock them down and put up McMansions.

My mom has always been scared of the stock market, although they do have a little money there, and she has felt most comfortable in real estate. This would explain why my parents have moved seven times in my lifetime! That doesn't even count a few more moves they made in the five years before I was born. Some of these places were temporary, while they were looking for a new place to live (stays might last anywhere from 2 weeks to a year and a half- there have been three places that I would consider temporary). They're not flippers, exactly, but they don't get sentimental about houses. When they think a neighborhood has peaked, they get out before the property values have a chance to deflate. They've done this twice now, successfully. This is really the fourth REAL house that they've had in my lifetime (I'm not counting a house they bought for my sister to live in, which was a HUGE debacle. That's another post for another time, but that is technically a fifth house). Contrast that with DH's parents, who have moved ONCE since they came to the US when he was 6 months old. He thinks the amount of times my parents have moved (twice since we've been together, which has been... 5.5 years!! Wow.) is ridiculous, and thinks that moving once is perfect.

The response in my head is, "Please." My thinking on this is that he will see once we actually start buying property that we will want to move after a few years, just because we'll want to move up. We won't be able to afford what we want right away, so we'll have to build up to it. He will learn this for himself, though, so I see no need to tell him at this point.

Anyway. With all the big house building in my parents' neighborhood, they want to keep up and increase their resale value. These renovations have been in the works since they bought the house 3.5 years ago, but with my wedding and my sister's wedding back-to-back, they've delayed starting construction. Until now. DH was so excited about it- my dad got a dirt guy to come in with his huge, industrial-strength backhoe to knock down the crappy addition the former owners put on the house, tear up the back patio, and grade the back yard. DH took movies with his digital camera. He was so excited. Even my brother-in-law was sad that we didn't call him to tell him to come over.

Second, my dad got a job! This was a huge shocker for all of us. This job just fell into his lap. The wife of a friend of his called my dad to tell him about it. They had closed the position, but couldn't find a qualified candidate (apparently it's hard to find someone who does construction who also has a college degree in engineering), so they opened it back up for my dad to apply. My mom is ecstatic, because it means my dad will have these awesome state benefits (it's a job at the local public university), and she isn't trapped at her job now. Plus, Dad will be bringing in a steady paycheck, which is something that he hasn't done in 25 years (he has been working for himself). Mom is also uber-excited about that. My dad is less excited about the job. He can see the logical reasons why it is good (benefits, retirement account, it's not hard physically like normal construction work, and considering my dad turned 59 last week, these are all big plusses), but he hasn't worked for someone else for 25 years. He likes the autonomy, the setting own hours, working at his own pace, setting his own rules. 2005 was a banner year for my dad professionally- he got his plumber's license (passing the test on the FIRST TRY), and now this new job. Crazy.

Now for the less than good.

My mom's best friend's daughter finally told her that she is a lesbian. This came as a surprise to nobody except her mother. Of course, this isn't bad news, but my mom's best friend is quite conservative, and disapproves of homosexuality. She's taking the news very, very hard. Friend's daughter just left her think-tank job in DC to take an assistant professorship at the local public university so she could be near her mom. They're close. She loves her daughter very much, and she's not going to disown her (thank goodness), so she has a big fat worldview adjustment ahead of her. She also blames herself, because she has made a lot of bad choices in men. She feels that she didn't set a good example for her daughter, and that's why she's a lesbian. Of course, this is totally ridiculous, but at least it means that she's not being as judgmental as she could be (if that makes sense). She'll get over it, but it's going to be tough for a little while. My mom is way more liberal than her friend when it comes to homosexuality, so she's going to be the voice of reason for a little while, as compassionately as she can.

Even worse was my dad's best friend having a stroke. Oy. His girlfriend called up my parents in the middle of the night so my dad could rush over there (the girlfriend lives 45 minutes out in the boonies; my parents live 15 minutes away) and wait for the ambulance... which didn't come! There are some serious city/county issues in my hometown. Lots of bickering. The girlfriend lives in the county, so when she called 911, she got the county dispatcher, who didn't send the ambulance because my dad's best friend lives in the city. Not too long ago, someone who lived on the border DIED because both the city and the county were claiming that his house was in the territory of the other. My dad had to call 911 again when he got to the house. His friend seemed okay then, but seemed to keep having these ministrokes after getting to the hospital. My dad went to see him the next day and said he was much worse. Poor guy. It was kind of nerve-wracking for all of us.

Today, I've been trying to get my teaching all straightened up. I've been trying to get access to do the course website, etc. First productive thing I've done since my symposium got accepted.

I have a few New Year's Resolutions. I am pretty much a "make a change if it needs to be changed, don't worry about the new year" kind of girl, but I think it's nice to have goals. My goals for this year are:

  • Get back on track with FlyLady, and really try to do it FOR REAL this time instead of half-a$$ed. I will never be a shined sink/ugly laceup shoes in the house kind of person, but I think her system should be flexible enough to include people like me, who aren't concerned with our dull sink as long as it's empty of dirty dishes and like to wear slippers around the house. I dread getting all those emails, but darn it if I'm not going to sign up for them again.
  • Run a 5K race by June. Run the WHOLE THING. All 3.1 miles of it. I've been pretty good about running kind of regularly (at least once a week- we ran three times while we were home, twice in the big park with nice trails and American bison!!), and I've been improving. Next semester, I'll be at my university full time with its nice gym, so I'll probably work out more often. This is usually what happens when I'm down there. In theory, I would like to have more fitness goals (eat less sugar, do more weight training, etc.), but I want to keep it realistic and make one change at a time.
  • Get my act together with regards to school. Seriously. I want to make it out in five years. I can still make this happen but I have to work hard, and I have to work fast.
  • Finally, I want to spend less money at the grocery store. We spend SO much on food. It's ridiculous. We're two people. I know my DH eats enough for three, but still.

I guess that's about it from the holiday front. I'll write about knitting tomorrow, I promise. Maybe my presents, too.

1 comment:

oregoncelticlady said...

I LOVE FlyLady but couldn't take the e-mails either. So I took all the charts and stuff and just made myown system! I think about her when I shine my sink *laugh*...funny having that shiny sink in the middle of sheer choas!!!