Week 18 – Bonding Over Vegetables

 

 

So I’ve found a bonding point with my mother; vegetables.  Who would have known, right? She planted 9 cucumber plants earlier in the summer and they have been sprouting everywhere!  Unfortunately she isn’t very diligent about picking them immediately, so we’ve had some pretty large cucumbers which are harder to pickle.  Yes, we have so many; I decided to start pickling them.  Why would one person plants 9 cucumber plants you ask?  Well last year she only planted about 2 and she claimed she only got one or two cucumbers out of them, so she didn’t want to be disappointed again this year.  The weather was perfect for growing them this summer, so they took off.  I normally take a walk to the garden with my mother when I first get to the house.  I feel like this breaks the ice a bit and makes my mother ease up a bit more.  That means less tension between us, which is always good!!

I was pleasantly surprised as I walked in my house because my mother actually had two bags of newspapers packed and ready to go.  She also had another bag of papers ready for me.  Unfortunately, this was a bag she took away from me when I was there last week.  She claimed that she “had to go through them”.  I’m not sure what she took out of the bag, but I’m guessing half of the contents are now on one of the piles downstairs.  When walking into the attic room, it’s always hard to actually get into the room because there are a few boxes of papers located behind the door.  I can only open it half way, which makes it harder taking things out since I can barely fit myself through the door.  When I had first looked into some of the boxes behind the door, there seemed to be a lot of bills and old bank statements.  These are too much work to go through and my mom is really touchy with throwing these sorts of things away.  Therefore I had put them aside for another day.

Well, today is that day!  I decided to go through one of the larger boxes which was sitting on the side.  I really had no clue what I might find but was happy that most of it ended up being junk mail.  Why would someone save junk mail you ask?  I have no clue, but the mail was still in their envelopes and she wrote on each envelope to identify what they were.  These were mostly for museum memberships, auto insurance, and other random offers.  Obviously the whole box was easy to throw away since everything was from about 20 yrs ago.  Of course my mother freaked out when she saw that I was throwing them away.  She tried to make some excuse about needing them.  I smiled at her, nodded, and continued to throw the envelopes away.

After going through the junk mail, I decided to tackle one more box before I left.  I ended up finding my school papers from 5th grade.  Yup, 5th grade, that was almost 20 years ago.  Most people would probably love to find some of their old papers from school.  I could see this, but trust me, it gets old quickly.  I have to say it was actually fun going through some of my old papers.  Then there are more papers and more papers.  It’s nice to see one or two book reports, but it gets old quick after you go thorough every paper you ever submitted from the entire school year.  It was time for them to go!  I was never a good student anyways.  Therefore there is no need to re-live my sub-par work more than once!!

In addition to the papers, I was able to pick up an old car vacuum.  My mother though it might still work.  There is always an excuse for hoarders, so I had her take it out to the cars and test it.  Thank goodness it didn’t work because she wouldn’t have used it anyways.  There was also an old children’s shopping cart of mine that had been sitting in the hallway since I started this process.  The plastic is so old it’s pretty much fallen to pieces.  My mother had put it aside for my dad to fix, but that obviously never happened.  I finally looked at it today and convinced her it was time to go.  She was happy because we have pictures of me using it when I was younger and that seemed suitable enough.  Was that my mother using a bit of common sense?  Shocking!!

*The additional toys and items were from my mother’s classroom when she was a kindergarten teacher.

This week:

1 box papers
2 bags newspapers from mom
1 bag papers
1 telephone
1 car vacuum
1 children’s shopping cart
3 metal cookie tins
8 cardboard boxes
2 bags dolls
1 bag garbage
8 batteries
1 little tikes house
1 little tikes pirate ship
1 tea kettle
1 box clothes
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What NOT to buy your favorite teacher (and a few things they may like)

My mother was a teacher for over 30 years and there are a few items you should probably think twice about buying for your teacher.  How did I come up with these items?  Looking quickly around my parents house, I found about 3 or 4 of each of these items, obviously unused.  Multiply that by 30 years, and you have a lot of unused gifts.  Below are some items that I recommend you avoid buying your favorite teacher:

  1. Anything that says “best teacher”  or has something to do with school or a classroom.  Yes, this is a nice gesture, but if she actually tried to put all the “best teacher” items around her house (or classroom when she had one), it would look a bit crazy.

A school box AND a mug. Great.. (I’m being sarcastic)

  1. Any type of potpourri.  Just say no!!

Potpourri!!!

  1. Candles.  Although, these actually sound nice, not everyone uses candles, and some are just plain UGLY.

Cute, but not for me..

  1. Mugs.  My mother doesn’t drink coffee or tea or anything that may go into a mug.  If anyone knew her well enough, they would figure this out.  Even if she did, she probably wouldn’t use half of the mugs she received.

Muggggsssss

  1. Picture frames, clocks, soap, or anything you might want to re-gift.  One can only have so many picture frames and places to put them.  Even an empty photo album will go to waste.  Too many different albums end up getting bulky and the teachers are so busy during the year, they probably won’t take the time to fill an album up when they get home!  Everyone has clocks in their house, I doubt they need more.  Soap may seem like a nice gesture since everybody needs soap right?  Well, this is a fairly common present, which adds up to a lot of soap.

Nope.. Thanks Anyways

  1. Anything with an apple.  I don’t know why an apple was chosen for teachers but enough with the apples.  Once again, if my mother filled her house with apple picture frames of every class she had, it would be overkill.

Multiple Apple pencil holders.. Two too many if you ask me!

So what should you get your teacher?  A photo book like a shutterfly photo album would be nice, a gift certificate to a department store like Macys or Target, or a gift certificate to a nice restaurant.  Anything relaxing, quiet, and without too many screaming, bratty kids!  If you still want to buy that nice mug or picture frame, try to imagine 10 of them in your house.  Would you want 10 mugs/candles/clocks for your home?  I doubt so!  Not everyone likes the same things that you like, so make the present meaningful and unique!

Now for a present I like:

Now this is cute!

Week 14 – On a roll…

Another Week, More piles!!

This week I went to my mother’s house and she didn’t have any newspapers for me.  I am not happy about this and now she will owe me 5 bags next week.  (2 for this week, 2 for next week and 1 extra bag since she didn’t have any for me.)  I also told her she would owe me $100 if she didn’t have them since this seemed to work last week.  It’s frustrating because my mom is doing the bare minimum to help clean up her own house.  I thought that since she had done so well some other weeks, she would try to achieve for more.  But instead she is practically giving up and it seems like she is almost trying to defy me.  It is frustrating because I show up and work my butt off every week.  I have a full time job and a busy social schedule outside of all of this, but I still find time to clean up their house, list items on ebay, and keep up with my blog.  Meanwhile, she spends two days a week at my brother’s house and takes my dad to the doctor once or twice a week.  Even though she has a significant amount of time on her hands compared to me, she can’t seem to find ten minutes to pack two bags of newspapers.  I have always known that my mother is horrible at time management, but maybe having too much time on her hands isn’t the best thing after all??

Plastic…

I let it go and head upstairs to the attic to continue digging away.  I was really excited leaving last week.  I felt like I actually accomplished something for once as I could actually see my progress.  Today my goal is to dig a path leading to a door that opens into a room under the eaves of the roof.  I had organized this area years ago so I am excited to have a nice organized space to work with.  I dig my way through and open door.  I am shocked to find the room to be filled to the brim and completely blocked!  I look in the boxes that are blocking the entrance of the doorway and they are filled with items from my grandmother’s house.  I start to dig around the boxes and find lots and lots of presents from when my mother was a teacher.  Now you might think your favorite teacher really wants that pretty wood apple pencil holder or an apple picture frame, but please don’t do it!

A slight roadblock..

I must have uncovered about 4 shopping bags full of gifts, all still in their boxes.  I put these aside for now and asked my mom to choose one item I could sell on ebay.  I started going through everything else in the back room of the attic.  I found a lot of plastic microwave containers that my mother was probably saving for school projects (this was always an excuse when I would try to get her to throw things away.)  Otherwise, I found lots of old clothes from the WHOLE family.  These are clothes from when my brother and I were smaller, clothes from my mom and dad, and my grandmothers and great aunt.  I was able to get a bag out this week for goodwill, so I’m happy with that.  It was a bit hard to get rid of some of my paternal grandmother’s clothes, she has been gone for 16 years and seeing some of the clothes brings back such nice memories of her.  I put them aside for now because I want to hold onto them for a little longer.  I know this isn’t helping the problem, but it’s only 1 or 2 items.

And more plastic!!

Going through the attic I also find an old computer and printer.  Mind you this is the same printer that I urged my mother to get rid of years ago when we bought them a new one.  My mother and I got into one of the biggest arguments about the printer because she seemed to think she would need it again in case the new one broke.  I also was able to throw away styrofoam from two old computer boxes that they hadn’t thrown away.  I have learned from prior weeks that I need to hide certain bags of paper and plastic from my mom so she won’t go through them before I remove them from the house.  I doubt there is anything in the bags that she would want.  It is so frustrating to watch her wasting time going through bags I spent so much time packing, it’s just easier if she doesn’t go through them.  She normally ends up taking out stupid things like coloring books or other papers that add to the mess downstairs.  In reality, she doesn’t need them and she will never use these papers she takes out.  If I take that step out of the process, it saves me time in the long run.  I let her go through the clothes for goodwill before I take them out and I leave.  I feel like I got pretty far, but I can’t believe how packed the back room is.  What a disappointment!!

This week:

No newspapers

1 bag paper

1 bag plastic

1 box Styrofoam

1 computer monitor

1 printer

1 large bag clothes