I was trapped in my house for three days this week waiting on various repairpersons. The short version of the story is that home ownership is a bitch. The slightly longer version is that our upstairs furnace died on Sunday night just as we got the first real arctic blast of the season. After a freezing our butts off all Sunday night, it was fixed. It broke again on Monday night, and we froze again. It was fixed again on Tuesday, and then it broke again, but the difference that time was that it was an inferno. Our furnace was possessed. At one point in the night, the thermostat read 88 degrees. Eighty-eight flipping degrees!

I was like Bill Murray in “Scrooged,” except instead of seeing my sad Christmas future, I saw my hot-flashing, night-sweating, menopausal destiny, and it. was. bleak. I thought I was dying. When I woke my husband to inform him of the situation, he said, “What do you want me to do?” He’s lucky he’s not dead.

It’s fixed for real now, and it cost, like, a billion dollars, which is awesome because spending a billion dollars is exactly what we hoped to do two weeks after Christmas, but I digress.

As a stay-at-home parent, I savor the hours my kids are at school. If you’re new here at The Runaway Mama, you might think I spend that precious time meditating, organizing family photos, folding laundry, journaling, and preparing healthy meals, but the rest of you know that’s just silly. When the boys are at school, I do anything and everything I can’t or don’t want to do with them in tow. I exercise. I go to the bank and post office. I go to Target without ending up in the Lego aisle. I go grocery shopping without little hands tossing Little Bites in my shopping cart. I write. I shower. I put gas in the car. I take a ballet class. I get haircuts and wax my eyebrows. I volunteer at school and go to doctor’s appointments. I sporadically have lunch with a friend.

Pacing around my house is not generally on my 9am-3pm to-do list. Call me a martyr (or the best damn multitasker on the planet), but I empty and fill the dishwasher while making school lunches and toasting frozen pancakes at seven o’clock in the morning. I fold laundry and empty and fill the dishwasher again while overseeing (not helping with) homework at four o’clock in the afternoon. I cook dinner while…actually, cooking dinner is a total crapshoot. It’s as hit or miss as my boys brushing their teeth.

When I am home, though, I do pace. I walk from room to room shifting piles of stuff around, picking up dirty socks, hunting down someone’s iPod or iPad or Kindle Fire or Fitbit charger, fetching icy water, and forgetting why I went up or down the stairs only to remember after I walk back down or up the stairs. I’m terrible at relaxing, especially at home. On a positive note, if housewalking were an Olympic sport, I’d be a medal contender. Seriously, I do not sit down. I wrote this entire post standing up. No wonder I’m exhausted every night!

In my experience, when a [fill in the blank] repair company gives me a service window of 9am-1pm, you can bet your bottom dollar that the guy is going to ring my doorbell at 12:59. As such, this week’s endless furnace fail forced me to keep myself busy at home. Here are some of the chores and projects I tackled during Heatgate:

  1. I undecorated the Christmas tree and brought all Christmas decorations to the basement.
  2. I shook crumbs out of every keyboard in the house and wiped microwave popcorn grease off of every mouse and laptop touchpad.
  3. I flossed my teeth.
  4. I paid bills.
  5. I caught up on the laundry.
  6. I filed all of our 2015 paperwork, including real estate documents, bills, invoices, and bank, tax, and health insurance statements.
  7. I hung three framed photos on the walls.
  8. I emptied and filled the dishwasher approximately 1,000 times.
  9. I made two doctor’s appointments.
  10. I submitted a health insurance claim. (True story!)
  11. I folded a fitted sheet, which I pray will never, ever happen again.
  12. I sorted the dog’s impressive (and smelly) rawhide bone collection.
  13. I organized my gift wrap supplies.
  14. I cleaned out the refrigerator.
  15. I joined a 12-step program for moms who hoard children’s socks. Hello, my name is Jen and I have two children and 6,000 pairs of children’s socks.
  16. I ordered new sneakers online for Dylan. I also ordered him two new books. They’re the ones where you get to choose the outcome of the story. My fingers are crossed that he likes them because he enjoys reading about as much as I enjoy folding fitted sheets.
  17. I prepared returns for West Elm and Bed Bath & Beyond. If I ever leave the house, I will make said returns.
  18. I wrote and published a blog post (while standing up) about my newfound infatuation with “Fixer Upper.”
  19. I cleared the kitchen table. Twice!
  20. I sorted the mail.
  21. I cleaned out my email inbox.
  22. I made wild salmon, kale, and quinoa burgers from scratch.
  23. I got crafty. Anxiety is a tricky beast. Some days it causes excessive SkinnyPop consumption. Other days, it results in The Key Jar (thanks Momastery for the inspiration).


I painted the crap out of that Mason jar. And yes, that’s the kitchen table that I cleared twice.

p.s. The kids love it!

  1. I made a Happiness Jar (thanks to Elizabeth Gilbert for the inspiration). Actually, it’s a Happiness Hurricane Vase, but that doesn’t sound as poetic. As well as the boys have coped with our move and a new school, new friends, new weather, and new everything, it would be dishonest for me to say the transition has been seamless. My emotional creatures have good days and bad days, and sometimes I want to scream into a pillow from the negativity that oozes from my little darlings. We’re going to jot down one thing that makes us happy each day and drop the notes in the jar because it’s worth trying, and I’ll do anything to help my kids find happiness. You get what you give in this glorious universe, and we’re in desperate need of some positivity around here.


When my house arrest was finally over, I wrote the word “heat” on a little yellow slip of paper and dropped it in the Happiness Jar, because the night sweats were behind me (for now…gulp), and I could finally get out of the house and be productive again.

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