Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Horrible Hours

Mosaic blocks! Forty-one in total! I've been working on these on and off since last spring. At last they're ready to be made into a quilt.

For many years now, I've been trying to figure out what to do with the horrible hours. These are the hours between 3 and 6 p.m--which is to say, the hours where my energy is at its lowest and my patience at its thinnest.

The horrible hours are especially horrible during the winter. Once the sun starts its descent, the house gets chillier and I get nappier. My desire most often is to curl up on the couch with a quilt, but there's dinner to be made, lunches to be packed, and  boys to be fetched from hither and yon. The horrible hours are filled with stops and starts.

There may be no cure for it. Maybe I should count my blessings that I have lots of energy in the morning, and then again from after dinner until 9:30 or so. Maybe I should do regularly what I've done from time to time in the past, which is to prep dinner after lunch so that there's not so much to do later and I can take a nap if I want to. I don't mind cooking dinner, but I have to say I'm always happy when we're on the second night of a two-night meal and all I have to do is heat things up.

Does your day contain horrible hours? Are they the same as mine, or do you find yourself lagging late in the morning or in the hours after dinner?


This weekend Jack and I had a minor league spat that turned into a really good discussion about the Internet, social media and the difficulty being a parent of a kid whose generation is the first to grow up from day one with computers in their lives. We're pioneers here, all of us, and we have no idea how this computer thing is going to turn out.

What pleased me about this discussion is that it started out as an apology from Jack (well, an apology that didn't actually incorporate the phrase "I'm sorry for slamming my door," but you can't have everything). The fact that he'd done something that upset me and later sought me out to discuss it made me happy.

Jack turns fifteen in April. He is a quiet, private person, but in recent weeks we've had two good conversations about things that are important to us--computers (important to him, concerning to me) and religion (important to me, raising questions for him). They have been honest, funny, fairly open talks. They make me feel hopeful for the future of our relationship.


Frugality report: I'm trying to make a tank of gas last as long as I can, which means I'm limiting the number of errands I run. I'm bad about driving to the library whenever a book I've had on hold comes in (and I put tons of books on hold) or if there's something at the grocery store we sort of need, but don't absolutely need. I'm pleased to say that I've used just over a tank of gas since right before the Christmas break.

I'm less pleased that I'm over budget when it comes to my weekly grocery spending. The problem with stocking up is that you can stock up every week if you feel like it. At what point do you stop stocking up?

Well, if I'm going to make my monthly budget for groceries, that point is now. No more stocking up! Enough with the stocking up. Time to eat that tilapia in the deep freeze, even if everyone is less than excited about tilapia. The pioneers were less than excited about eating groundhog, but they did it and survived, and we will, too.


Tracy said...

My horrible hours are after dinner before the kids go to bed. I can't send them off at 7pm because I'm done with kids for the day anymore - they're too old/big. My patience with sibling nonsense runs very thin at that point in the day but Dh is usually home then so he can take over when I lose it.

I find the groceries hard to keep in budget. I am always pleasantly surprised when I hit on or under the mark. I feel stressed when I'm over. I don't tend to stock up on much mostly because our sales deals are nothing like what you get and it's just not worth it.

Pom Pom said...

I loved the book titled The Mother's Almanac. I read it over and over when the kids were little. She called those hours the arsenic hours. It's true. We usually had meltdowns, arguments, and "I'm starving" all at once. I remember rocking four year old Jenny and realizing that I was really rocking myself in that rocking chair. We're talking about Emily Dickinson at school. Do you think she was talking about the horrible hours when she wrote about the certain slant of light?

RedSetter said...

Normally my horrible hours are 6-9pm then I magically come alive and from 10pm-2am I am at my brightest. Not conducive to a 9-5 workers life and creates 'challenges'. However, I am at home right now and I am finding exactly the same 3-6pm period dreadful and find I doze off then. I'm blaming the dank, dreich weather and low light levels.

Heather said...

My horrible hours are pretty much the same as yours. Some days I just want to curl up and take a nap, but I resist because the kids can't just come home and do what they want-they have to do homework. I guess guilt factors into my decisions a bit. They have their work and I have mine, even if my schedule isn't as tight as theirs.

As for stockpiling, I've learned to stockpile only certain items that we use weekly. Beans, a certain type of spaghetti sauce, a certain type of bbq sauce (and yes, I know that I can make those things myself but I don't want to.) Sales usually repeat themselves every few weeks, I've noticed, so I don't stockpile things I'm not going to use more than once or twice a month.

Melissa E said...

My horrible hours are between 3 and 6pm. By 3pm I have done all my chores for the day, run all my errands, and managed the animals and by 3pm I am D.O.N.E.....but DH comes home at 4 and he always has a ton of things he wants to get done for himself...so I usually feel the peer pressure because I dont want to be napping on the couch while he is out mending a fence or working out in the yard. And even though I dont want to do much of anything, I find myself forcing "me" to be busy. I also get lazy about cooking dinner during that time. After 6pm, after dinner, I have a good excuse to relax on the couch and do nothing since by that point I have had a full day!

Gumbo Lily said...

About 2:00, especially if I'm driving and if I've had a good lunch, I get sleepy. I remember when I was driving the kids to piano lessons or something (an hour drive) that pulled off the gravel road, put my head on the steering wheel and fell asleep for 5 minutes. I told the kids to wake me up in 5 minutes. I guess someone drove by us and looked in the windows. The kids waved them onward and I guess they could see I was asleep.

I like to take a cup of coffee or tea about 3:00 along with a snack. It sure helps me.

Yes, groundhog and leftovers for supper!

debbie bailey said...

When the children were small, I used to call the hour from 5-6 "The Hell Hour". Sesame Street and snacks got me through most of them. Now that I only have a 15-year-old at home, it's no different from all the other hours. I do low-key things then like ironing, walking, and piddling. Having dinner already made makes life so much easier. I hate hitting 6:00 and thinking, "What's for dinner?" Or worse, having my husband ask. I love leftover night!

Jo said...

I find cutting out carbs for lunch makes my afternoon so much better. Not such an easy thing to do in the middle of winter though!

Jo said...

PS Looking forward to reading your very short book on how to be frugal by not buying yarn, fabric and books.

wayside wanderer said...

I am looking forward to seeing your mosaic quilt when it is finished. I know of that afternoon lull of which you speak. It is hard to fight off a nap on some days. Even if I am not sleepy I feel like it is my most unproductive time of the day.
I can't fathom your gas usage. Everything must be super close or you have a gigantic tank. Kudos to you because that is quite the accomplishment.

On A Shoestring said...

I've been thinking about your horrible hours every time I slump into the 3.30 - 5.30 slot, my own horrible hours after work. I hoped now you'd helped me identify them as such I could do something about it but so far not!