Find Out What Jen Finds

My journey on the spectrum of life … and the lessons I learn along the way …
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about Early Retirement: Bring on those dirty dishes

  • August 2, 2011 6:05 pm

It is known that discipline, structure, and self-motivation have the potential to propel young ambitious ones to afford early retirement. But I have discovered the opposite is true…but with the early retirement of our dishwasher. Yes! Call me crazy. Demoting our dishwasher to a glorified dish rack has somehow brought out the discipline, structure, and self-motivation in my family. I might even dare say, it has brought order to our chaos. Well, at least for the kitchen.

It all began when I decided to “spring clean” our dishwasher. The door panel had stains (I’m hoping from coffee and tea) and crusties (displaced rice and grits, I pray) and really gross floaties swum around the bottom (don’t really wanna guess). I was able to do a really great job of scrubbing and making it shine and glisten… until I got to the floaties.  I delegated that to The Hub as I suspected that the standing water was probably a sign of a clog and I wasn’t quite brave enough to venture there. It’s not as much OCD or germ-a-phobia than it is a tactile aversion. I was wearing heavy duty gloves but there are some tasks where only the imagination suffices to make me avoid it. In the meantime, I was not onboard with putting another dish in it for its intended use, not convinced it could fulfill its purpose. I’m sure I would’ve had nightmares about dishwasher floaties coming after me every evening until The Hub remedied the issue.

No dishwasher?!? Oh no! Not sure which nightmare was worse…

I reminded myself that washing dishes by hand is not a big deal. The Brothers and I had spent most of the summer at the beach in a small condo that had a dishwasher, but with just the three of us, we used so little dishes that it rarely got filled up to justify running it. It was actually more irritating to try to fill it up than it was to just go ahead and wash them. Besides, when I was growing up, my mom only used our dishwasher to blanch ears of corn. Washing the dishes by hand was just something that we did, often together. And when The Hub and I first got married and moved into our first apartment, we stored our plastic shopping bags in our dishwasher. I remember actually baking his birthday cake and hiding it in the dishwasher because I knew he would never look in there and accidentally find it before its debut. So a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, washing dishes by hand was my way of life.

So I decided I wouldn’t just succumb to washing the dishes myself…I decided to commit to washing the dishes myself.

It’s a scary commitment. It’s not like at the condo where I took the path of less irritation. On a baking day at the condo, it sure was nice to have the option of tossing them in the dishwasher and let it take care of the greasy or caked on mess. But once we were a family of four again and in non-vacay mode, the daily dishes and pans consumption had increased. And once we had returned to our 2 story home, corralling the dishes is more difficult. It was not uncommon to load a kitchen full of dishes, only to find another sinkful-worth of dishes scattered throughout the house. How would I ever keep up without the dishwasher?!? I think I had a mini panic attack as I faced my dilemma. This decision may have started out as necessity, but turned into an opportunity.

Changes which have occurred since the early retirement of our dishwasher:

  • Discipline = Cleaner Kitchen Counter = Happy Mom = Happy Family

Before: Because we make our own bread, it seemed as if our counter was constantly littered with crumbs. But it also had its fair share of coffee/tea rings and other unidentified objects.

After: My mom taught me that after every dish-washing exercise I must wipe up the excess water in the surrounding area and the table and seats. Well, since I got the rag in my hand already, I might as well take care of all the counters and the stove to boot. It really doesn’t expend that much more time or energy especially since its 2-3x a day.

  • Structure = Less Kitchen Counter Clutter = Happy Mom = Happy Family

Before: Dishes would pile up beginning at breakfast until right before bed when dishes got loaded into the dishwasher. Just looking at our inventory all day long was enervating.

After: Breakfast dishes get washed and are dry by the time lunch comes, when they just get reused. Ditto for dinner. I’m thinking about a serious inventory clearance sale in our future.

  • Self-Motivation = Cleaner Kitchen Floor = Happy Mom = Happy Family

Before: We relied on The Skipper Dog to do the daily heavy lifting. But sometime the crumbs and the homemade gluten-free flour experiments got too entangled with his shed hair for him to successfully lap up.

After: The Hub has been bringing out the broom at night while I’m washing the dishes! On his own accord!

Honorable Mentions:
  • The kids are bringing me their snack plates and clearing the table on their own now because they see I’m busy washing the dishes (and because there is less clutter they have a place to safely put them).
  • I cook more. Even though it produces more dishes to wash. Maybe it’s the clutter-freeness of the counter that brings out the Rachel Ray in me. I do find myself being more efficient while cooking so as to minimize the number of dishes I wash.
  • I’m hoping this will possibly reduce our energy bill and water bill.

There is no more standing water in the dishwasher from the clog. I’m not sure if The Hub fixed it, or just sucked it all up with the wet-vac, and I’m not sure if I want to know the truth because I don’t want to be tempted to cave.

about Commitment: What’s a resolution anyway?

  • January 3, 2010 11:46 pm

…the number of pixels per square inch on my monitor? …finding a solution to a problem? …the pretty chords you hear following the dissonant chords that sometimes make my skin crawl (that song from Phantom of the Opera comes to mind at the moment)?

Every year at this time you hear this phrase floating about: New Year’s Resolution. In this context:

res-o-lu-tion [rez-uh-loo-shuhn] noun
a decision to do something or to behave in a certain manner

There’s a debate that exists on whether one should or should not declare a New Year’s Resolution. I heard (being a geek statistician and all) that roughly 97% of New Year’s Resolutions are not kept. (This doesn’t surprise me since I also know that about 3% of folks are natural-born leaders – the rest of us have to get trained.) So why bother if odds point to fail?

“A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.”
– Oscar Wilde

This is the #1 debate that goes on in my head every January 1ish. Upon reflection, here are some points that I argue (with myself).

  • A resolution is goal-setting which is always a good thing. Throwing the dart when there’s not even a target will always be a miss. I feel like I’m moving forward when I finally make a decision about something. Ever heard “Indecision is the Devil’s playground” or “Sitting on the fence hurts”? When I’m stuck, I actually feel like I’m going backwards.
  • A decision isn’t a strategy. Too often I set a goal with absolutely no idea of how to do it. Without strategy, its hit or miss. If you’ve never been to the destination before, a map would come in handy. This is when I have to make sure I set a realistic start date and deadline. January 1st ought to be my first planning day instead of the first day I’m expected to do a 180. Hmmm…maybe the END of the year should be the deadline.
  • The goal means nothing without the effort. Perhaps my resolutions were broken because I never actually believed that I would accomplish them. Therefore I never committed to them. ‘Nuff sed.
  • Efforting is hard. I have a bad habit of keeping goals to myself and then forgetting about them trying to accomplish them. The more people I tell the more I get excited about my goals. Those endorphins kick in and I don’t seem nearly as fatigued. But the best help is asking someone to hold me accountable which is usually the missing ingredient for me and then I get burned out.
  • Staying motivated is key for commitment. If I’ve learned anything in the last 3 years, I’ve learned that motivation does NOT come from accomplishing a goal. Motivation comes via the REASON the goal was set in the first place, whether it be for joy, health, spirit, or [insert core value here].

So do I have a New Year’s Resolution? I do. And a New Year’s Strategy too! I resolve to make time to write, beginning with my blog. I unexpectedly announced it to myself in a reply to Lori @spinningyellow‘s tweet about HER resolution. My goal is to post at least once a week, however seeing that once a month is rare, I’m going to start with at least once a month. (January…check! Guess I can move up to biweekly now!) I am motivated by feedback because I learn about people, I learn about myself (usually that I’m too hard on myself or too full of myself), and the more I can learn the more open-minded I become and the better I can teach my kids how to navigate through this world. After all, they are the REASON I do about 98% of the things I do. From ‘Gotta eat so I don’t snap and throw one out the window’ to ‘Gotta hug and kiss The Hub so they don’t think they are the center of my universe all the time.’ (Yeah…I haven’t figured out how sudoku or bubble shooter benefits them yet. Guess that falls under the 2%.)

Now I’m asking my readers and ex-readers who thought I fell off the edge of the planet, to help hold me accountable. How? Comment often? Subscribe to my blog? Tweet/FB this post? Send me chocolate? Your resolution to share however and whenever will be most appreciated by me and will likely have a greater impact than you probably think.

This one goes to Eleven…

  • September 1, 2008 10:06 pm

Did you think I forgot about the contest???  Of course I didn’t! It just took me a while to compile the list of eligible participants because I spread it out so much over the past fews weeks because of technical difficulties.

So after all was said and done, we have ELEVEN participants!! I couldn’t be happier considering I transplanted by blog and the “comments don’t work, not they do, oops they don’t, ok yay they finally work” ordeal.

So the winner of the very first Win What Jen Finds is……….


Miss Nelson from Meaningful Outcomes!

Miss Nelson is from a special breed of educators for special needs children who CARE about the importance of their work and CARE about the children they touch. I think I was just spoiled by The Teacher, that I didn’t recognize just how valuable this special group of teachers are! Thank you Miss Nelson!

So blah blah blah, enough mushy stuff, what did she win?

Well, I was specifically looking for bling for this contest since it was what I originally called the contest (Win Some Bling) but I like the “formal” name (Win What Jen Finds) better. It’s just fitting. And versatile in the event that I can’t find bling. But Miss Nelson you are in LUCK!

In Honor of the Olympics you have won a SILVER MEDAL!

I thought it also fitting that you blogged on Melanie Roach recently too!

It is a silver medal for different reasons:

  1. USA led in the medal standings and had the most silver medalists!
  2. The Trusty Statistician chose 7 as the first random number and as you can see in the picture, um, that would be him. And since he is good as gold but only in MY world, I had The Trusty Statistician choose a second random number (that wasn’t #7)
  3. I couldn’t find a gold medal, and after all it IS Win What Jen Finds. I had 3 medals, what I thought was one of each variety, but I actually had 2 bronze medals and a silver medal.

So Congratulations, Miss Nelson. You do deserve a gold medal though! Please send me an email at findout at whatjenfinds dot com and let me know where you would like for me to ship your awesome prize! BTW, you are just getting the medal, not the pink piece of paper, nor my toes in the background of the photo, but feel free to save the picture to have those things for your scrapbook. ;)