Sunday, November 27, 2011


'Tis the eve before the dreaded Monday. Not just any Monday but the Monday after the long Thanksgiving weekend. Thanksgiving day was lovely; despite the fact that I created the entire dinner on my own with little help from anyone (but thanks, Harrison, for helping a little bit!). I had actually been dreading making the whole big meal. I'm not great at getting a meal to come together at the right time and have everything hot and ready, especially a meal with so many components. I wasn't really all that excited for Thanksgiving anyway - it was just us and my ex, so it's not like we were expecting company. In fact, the house was quite messy. But as the day wore on, I actually kind of enjoyed doing all that work, spending hours in the kitchen creating what turned out to be a lovely and delicious meal. I even whipped up a couple of pies, which I had not planned to do, and had already purchased some frozen pies. And although they were really lopsided and strange-looking, they tasted good . At the last minute I even managed to create a pretty tablescape with candles and fall decorations.

But then.........the rest of the weekend was just pure laziness. Sleeping in, laying about, eating leftovers. And more leftovers. And more leftovers. In fact, I've had nothing but turkey, sweet potatoes, gravy, mashed potatoes and stuffing the entire weekend. I'm in serious need of a pizza. Or a salad. Or anything not containing turkey.

Adding to the blahs was the fact that it was pretty rainy all weekend (well, except for Friday, when it was beautiful and sunny and I begged my husband to get out in the sun but we didn't even leave the house until the sun was almost set!). We didn't participate in any Black Friday frenzy; I am fundamentally opposed to shopping on Black Friday unless it's online, but we did return a few things to Home Depot and Fred Meyer. Exciting stuff, I tell you.

I did get some things organized and weeded out and found two awesome new crafts to do which might turn into super cute Christmas presents (should I ever find the time, sigh!). My husband spent an entire day in bed, retreating downstairs only to fetch food and sodas. I did some online shopping, but we're broke so I kept having to transfer money from savings to cover my online purchases. Argh. Hate Christmas when there's no money. Also, the few days before Thanksgiving I had done some shopping after work and was woefully inconsiderate of the budget (whatever that is) so I spent an hour or so adding up what I spent so far (gulp!).

The kids are absolutely giddy over Christmas and "can't wait", and while I do love the season, it's hard to share their excitement when I'm the one shopping, fretting over the money, wrapping, preparing, baking, attending, coordinating and executing. Christmas is a busy, busy time.

We took our annual "Christmas picture" and, as usual, I turned into Sgt. Commander Mom and ordered everyone around and got irritated at the general lack of compliance that comes with taking Christmas pictures. Normally my kids are such hams. But only when they are the single subject in the picture. When it's a group photo? All bets are off. I honestly don't know why I even bother, but once a year I'd like a picture of all of us together. In the end, one of our goofiest poses made it onto the Christmas card, along with a few others, because, as my eldest put it, "that's more like our real family". It's true. We are nuts.

On Thanksgiving my son did a very graphic rendition of "I'm Sexy and I Know It", imitating the music video complete with pelvic thrusts and "wiggle, wiggle". It was totally inappropriate and over-the-top hysterical. I won't post it here because we've had our share of "stolen" pictures and I don't want it to get into the wrong hands, but if you're friends with me on Facebook, you can watch it and laugh, too. Or be appalled. Either way.

Today I woke up and my whole body hurt. My skin, my hair, everything. Flu? Not sure. I don't have a fever or stomach upset. But all of my muscles ache and I'm uncomfortable, which has made for a very unproductive day. I did manage to take my college daughter to coffee before she made the drive back to school. And I worried excessively, as I often do, over her driving across the mountain pass in icky weather. Jeff made the same trek about two hours later to pick up daughter number three and is on his way back now. I worry. I always worry.

And tomorrow is my first "official" day at my new job. I've already been there three days but technically as a "sub" so tomorrow is my first day on the payroll as a regular employee. I'm excited but anxious because I'm feeling so blah and I hope I feel better by tomorrow so I can greet the kids with enthusiasm. I am really excited about my new job.

I wonder what it is about "vacation" weekends that makes us so lazy? If we had family and friends in town visiting I'm sure we would have done a number of fun things. But it was just us. The kids were off doing their own things, one was out of town, and Jeff and I, well......we just were lazy. It's nice to just stay home sometimes and putter around and do stuff, but somehow this long weekend was a little TOO much relaxing. Jeff wanted to go fishing, but his buddies backed out. I wanted to go shopping but I ran out of money! But we still could have done any number of fun things for free, even just taking a walk in the sunshine.

Today I went through the holiday guide in the paper and made a list of fun (and free!) things we could do in the coming weeks to get in the holiday spirit. Currently my kids are cleaning in preparation for the indoor holiday decorations to come out (Jeff, bless his heart, already did the outdoor ones last week). Maybe once I see the stockings or our sad little $12 artificial tree we've been meaning to replace each year but can never justify the cost (despite the fact that it broke last year and fell on my HEAD), or the window clings we've had since the kids were babies in the windows, or the Western-themed Santa that dances and sings "Holly Jolly Christmas", or my Nativity set that doesn't match anything but I love anyway on the piano, maybe then I'll be more in the Christmas spirit.

Or maybe when I make that first batch of homemade Bailey's...........God bless us, one and all!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving eve........

'Tis the eve of Thanksgiving and I have not prepared one pie, chopped a single onion, unwrapped one stick of butter. My turkey is still partially frozen. I know all you Martha Stewart wannabes have already made your pies in advance, made your own bread for stuffing last week, starched your table linens, and painstakingly prepared adorable centerpieces for the table out of fall leaves and pine cones. Well, la-di-dah for you.

I'm tired and I have a new job and I've been doing a lot of Christmas shopping these past few days. I bought all my Thanksgiving dinner supplies last Sunday so everything is here in the house. I'm sure I'll have some semblance of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans and homemade rolls put together by tomorrow around dinner time. I might make a dessert if I have time, but if not, I was proactive and bought two pies. They're in the freezer.

I never understood why my mother got up before dawn on Thanksgiving day to put the turkey in. A turkey does not take all day to cook. But we always ate really early on Thanksgiving day. Why? Why, if it's called "Thanksgiving dinner" did we eat at 2 in the afternoon? And who decided we had to have all those traditional foods anyway? I love me some mashed 'tatoes and gravy, and sweet potatoes are delish, but honestly, the turkey is just "eh" and stuffing is gross.

I think all festive holiday meals should include "feast", my favorite dinner of all time. Feast is when you have a bunch of different foods. Ideally it would include several different appetizers, dips and fancy cheeses and crackers. Then, there would be all manner of fruits and veggies arranged in colorful displays on platters. There might be chocolate to dip the fruit in, and some savory dips for the veggies. In short, there would be many choices, some sweet, some savory, all delicious. Who wants to cook and clean all day for one heavy, fatty, greasy meal that leaves you bloated and tired?

I guess I'd feel differently if we were having company. Then, I'd feel obligated to clean, and set the table all fancy and serve up a feast. But it's "just us" and I'd rather just enjoy time with my family than cook. I don't like to cook anyway. I love preparing appetizers and desserts, but preparing an entire meal feels like drudgery to me. Especially one that involves a twenty pound turkey. I say the new Thanksgiving dinner is this: shrimp platter with cocktail sauce, Little Smokies in barbeque sauce, sausage balls, something made with Pillsbury crescent rolls, Beecher's Flagship cheese and fancy crackers, fruits (perhaps something fancy - figs?), veggies and dips, bruschetta, parmesan crisps. Dessert would be chocolate fondue with fruits and cake to dip, homemade chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter balls, and mini pumpkin pies. Everything would be served on super cute paper plates with matching napkins and cups. We'd sit around and watch old family videos, look through photo albums, play some games, maybe watch a movie. We'd take lots of pictures, and get in our jammies early and watch TV. That would be a day I look forward to. Not one that involves taking a gizzard out of a turkey. Maybe it's time for a new tradition..........

Monday, November 21, 2011

My week away.......

I got to spend approximately 4.3 glorious days away recently, visiting my sister and niece in Boise. My primary goal for going was to meet my most beautiful new niece, Lila. But of course there were additional bonuses like adorable, sweet Jackson and funny, smart Kaden. And the adults. They were nice to visit too. I even got to see my other sister, so the three of us sisters were together (a rarity). We didn't take any pictures together but that's ok, because the middle sister has lost 100 lbs recently and makes us other two sisters look like the ugly stepsisters, Jenny Craig edition. So, we collectively hate her and love her at the same time. Skinny bitch. :)

But this was the VERY first time I've ever been away, on my own, for that length of time. How sad is that? I've been a mom for over eighteen years and this is the first solo trip extending past a weekend? Also, I was gone during the school week, which added a fun, new twist for my husband. Besides being mom AND dad, he got to deal with a crisis involving a leotard (that's the thing you wear on your body, tights are what you wear on your legs), had to drive a child to school who missed the bus (always one of my favorite pastimes) and, sadly, had to deal solo with a dog's health crisis (including breaking the sad news to the kids that our beloved Charlie is very sick). I, on the other hand, had to deal only with decisions like whether to have the cookie dough brownie or the magic cookie bar with my daily coffee at the cafe, or which baby to hold and cuddle. Ah, life.

And now that I'm back, and fully into the throes of the household again, I realize there are some things I did NOT miss about being away. The biggest and most obvious: I did NOT miss my dogs. I know, that's so mean, but Shade's incessant whining, the frenzied barking at the door by three overreacting dogs and the general dog hair, slobbery water mess on the floor....nah, didn't miss that at all. Sure, I felt bad about Charlie and when I came back I snuggled with him in front of his favorite spot - the fireplace - and took a nap with him, but I did not miss the chaos that comes from having dogs.

I also did not miss having to make school lunches. Bleh. Last night I went to make lunches. But then I decided to quick switch the laundry around and put my clothes in the dryer. But then there was no basket. I heard they were all in Harrison's room. I went to get one. His floor was covered with clothes and several upended laundry baskets, one of which contained his $400 bass lying haphazardly inside a laundry basket (huh?). As I was retrieving a basket, I noticed several of my own clothing items on the floor. What the.....?? I picked through the mess and retrieved my own clothes as well as a couple of pairs of yoga pants and a t-shirt belonging to his sister. I put all the towels from the floor into one basket. I separated his darks and lights into his laundry basket. And I finally got three empty laundry baskets to take into the laundry room where I found my clothes mysteriously missing. Funny thing, while I was cleaning HIS room, he had dumped my clean clothes into a basket and deposited them in MY room.

I finally descended the stairs to make lunches. I put grapes into five baggies. Put out a yogurt for each lunch. Made sandwiches. Cut up five oranges and squeezed them into snack bags (p.s. the average-sized orange just barely fits into a standard sized, Ziploc snack bag). Juice boxes, water bottles, spoons, napkins and a handiwipe and lunches were finally done. But then I noticed the cereal shelf was a mess. And some of the cereal was sitting on the floor. So, I organized the cereal shelf and found a half-full box of Lucky Charms that had gone stale because someone was too lazy to fold down the inner bag. I found out we had three opened boxes of Rice Krispies. And that someone had deposited a box of granola upside down on the shelf. Sigh.

And then I had to clean up the kitchen and ask my daughter to unload and load the dishwasher which was met with an audible sigh and complaint because she was watching the AMA awards on TV (which she can see from the dishwasher!). And I had to wipe down the counters and collect the dirty dish towels and cloths and head upstairs with my laptop, a pile of dirty kitchen towels (plus one bath towel I found on the stairs!), a permission slip I needed to sign and a handful of lens cleaner wipes with which to clean my dirty laptop.

This entire process took about two hours. And I was just going to "go make lunches" and be back upstairs in twenty minutes to attend to all the things I needed to do on my computer since it had not been communicating with my wireless connection all weekend and was therefore useless to me. I stayed up till almost midnight sending emails, filling in my calendar with appointments, checking my Facebook and online shopping for Christmas.

In Boise, my computer worked, I didn't have to make school lunches, or pick up anyone's dirty towels, or clean cereal off the floor. I slept in every day, went to bed when I felt like it, spent my day snuggling cute babies and even snuck in a little shopping (sparkly shoes - yay!). Vacations are good. Being home is good. But it's not a vacation. And now I'm going to be late for work! Bye!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Signs that the holidays are near..........

It's unavoidable - the Halloween decorations in stores in August leading up to.....Christmas. What happened to Thanksgiving? No one cares about Thanksgiving. Poor Thanksgiving tries it's hardest with the turkey and fixings, the cozy family feeling, the month or so of gratitude posts on Facebook. But Thanksgiving fairly wobbles beneath the trappings of Christmas and can barely stand on it's own turkey legs under the weight of the holiday decorations, commercials, and sparkling lights. I mean, when did you last see a strand of Turkey lights? Pilgrim costumes in stores? A craft class at Micheal's on how to make an authentic Indian headdress?

Last week I went to the mall with my kids. Walking into Bath and Body Works, my daughter started hyperventilating. Literally. The store was dripping with holiday decorations; giant ornaments hanging from the ceiling, the overpowering scents of peppermint and spruce. Even my "non-shopping" daughter was so overwhelmed with the holiday spirit she uttered the words "I'm so glad we came to the mall!" I admit I bought a couple of candles (Winter Cabin and Winter Garland) and was besotted with a color-changing nightlight/air freshener ("It's only $15! We should get it!").

Then, tonight, as we drove out of the neighborhood on our way to the mall again (this time to purchase a very non-holiday-ish vacuum cleaner), I was shocked, no stunned, no appalled, to see that a neighbor has already put up their Christmas lights and decorations. It's November 11. Veteran's Day, no doubt. I realize there are not a lot of exciting decorations in the retail world for Thanksgiving. But I have seasonal candles in my house, my front porch is decorated with pumpkins and fall leaves and scarecrows and I have Pilgrim and turkey window clings. It's homey. And warm. And Thanksgiving-ish.

I understand that Christmas is exciting when you're a child. Even as an adult, I look forward to many things about the Christmas season. But to build Christmas up so huge is bound to lead to disappointment. My kids are so excited about Christmas they can barely contain themselves. They've made lists. One of them has a pre-lit Christmas tree in her room that's been up since Halloween. To each his (or her) own. But I wonder if the hype about Christmas is the right kind of hype.

I love to be festive, and you can bet the weekend of Thanksgiving our house will transform from turkeys and pilgrims to red, white and green and everything in between. We give the Griswolds a run for their money. Every Christmas I have big plans: make cookies with the kids (usually happens - sometimes on Christmas eve), make a beautiful handmade card (haha, never happens - Costco to the rescue!), take the kids to a Christmas show; the Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol, Radio City Christmas Spectacular (happens about once every four years), put really creative stuff in the Advent House (never get creative, put candy in instead), make Christmas crafts (hasn't happened in years but I've already got a box started), make delicious homemade goodies for friends and neighbors (usually happens, but never what I originally planned), spend many cozy evenings watching traditional Christmas movies wearing Christmas pajamas, sipping hot cocoa with the kids (happens maybe once - if we're lucky). The point is, we build and build and build the excitement and in the end, it's just one day.

From a religious standpoint, that might sound like blasphemy - just one day? It's the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. But do we, really? I haven't been to church on Christmas in years. I kind of like church on Christmas. It's so festive. I know for some families, Christmas is a time to strengthen their belief and renew the spirit of the miracle of Christmas. And that's great. But when it comes right down to it, the birth of our Savior has nothing to do with the newest iPod touch or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. How did we get here?

I think the point is to savor the moment. Instead of rushing headlong into the holidays, why not savor the most mundane of months? Why not give November it's due? After all, November is when leaves swirl and turn in all of their garnet glory. The air is heavier with the smell of earth and leaf and change. The days are cooler - why not relish in the glory of wearing that first cozy sweater? The furnace is turned on, the fireplace stoked. Tea and coffee warm our tummies and hands. Dark comes earlier; a chance to cocoon inside a bit longer. Candlelight casts shadows making our old familiar house take on a new comfort. A turkey roasts, pies are baked, and we reflect on the things we're most grateful for. November is about simple pleasures. Don't rush it.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The middle of the night........

What exactly is the MIDDLE of the night? I guess it depends on what time you go to bed. I fell asleep sometime around 11 p.m. last night and woke up at 2:45 a.m. I guess that counts as the "middle". So, I'm up in the middle of the night and I can't sleep. I'm too hot. Or I'm too cold. Or something. Not even sure what woke me in the first place. The only reason I'm even on my computer is because I left it downstairs, so I won't disturb anyone with my clickety-clack typing.

Here's how it goes: I wake up and toss and turn for a half hour. Or an hour. Or longer before I finally decide to just get up. But herein lies the dilemma. Where do I go? Downstairs is the logical choice, since the family is sleeping upstairs. It would make sense to take up residence on the couch, but then I'd be cold and need a snuggly blanket and I didn't think to bring one down with me. Then, comes the "do I turn on the lights?" dilemma.  Some studies say that once light hits your retina, your body thinks it's morning and you will have a much harder time falling back to sleep. And when one wakes in the middle of the night, that is the goal - to go back to sleep already!

So, no lights. But the dark, there might be a spider. I mean, that's logical, right? The very room I'm sitting in once housed a giant spider so who knows if there's another one? Spiders like to lurk in the dark. There's no way in hell I'm sitting on the black leather couch. Spider camoflauge. Because it would only take one time having a giant spider crawl on me in the dark to keep me from ever leaving my bed in the middle of the night. But there's nothing worse than trying to be quiet in my bed so I don't wake my husband while tossing and turning. So, I left.

I chose a relatively safe chair where my computer happened to be residing. And I checked my email. Mostly junk. And I checked my Facebook. Mostly boring. And now I'm hungry because my body thinks it's morning and breakfast time. My faithful companion, Georgette the black lab, has accompanied me downstairs and I can even hear HER stomach growling. So, it's not just humans.

I always wonder why I woke in the first place. I swear earlier in the night I was poked hard in the arm, right in  the spot where I just got a flu shot, by my husband, likely because I was snoring. I just remember waking abruptly to shooting pain from a shove to the arm. Rude. I can't help it if I snore. I'm sleeping, for cryin' out loud! I can't be responsible for my actions when I'm in deep slumber.

Whatever the reason, I'm up. Normally I'd enjoy the extra time to get something done. But what can one do at 4 a.m. without disturbing the household? It's not like I can turn on the vacuum or run a load of laundry. I really just want to be in bed. But I want to be sleeping there, not tossing and turning and thinking about how tired I'm going to be in the morning.

Blarg. Insomnia sucks.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What to do with all that leftover Halloween candy........

I stole that title from the many, many articles of the same (or similar) title I've seen in the past few days. What on earth can we do with all that leftover Halloween candy? Do a candy buy-back? Let the kids pick their five favorite pieces and chuck the rest? Take it to the break room at work? Let the kids conduct science experiments with it?

Here's an idea. EAT IT! Yes, that's right, I give you permission to eat it. Or let your kids eat it. Or let your kids eat the stuff you don't like but steal the stuff you do and hide it in your nightstand drawer. Or whatever. The point is, if you really, really do not want your child to consume a vat of candy, then don't let them go trick or treating for it in the first place! If you only want them to eat five pieces, then only go to five houses. But I say if you dressed them up and trotted them out in public begging for free candy, then the least you can do is eat it!

Let's face it, what other time of year do you walk around getting free candy? How many times do you bring home a haul of sweets in a pillowcase? So, go ahead and eat it. I'm not condoning letting your kid go all-out and consume a bowlful of candy in one sitting. No way. 'Cause you know who's gonna clean up the barf later.  I'm just saying that it's ok to let your kids eat their own Halloween candy.

When my kids were little, I'd sort through their candy under the guise of "checking it." That was code for "let mommy pick out her favorites and try to convince you that Reese's are yucky." Then, and I'm not embarrassed to admit this, I'd put it all together, sort it into varieties, put the yucky stuff in a container (dubbed "the candy jar" even though it wasn't a jar) and let the kids have a piece now and then. I'd put some in their lunches for a few days and after a week or so, they had pretty much forgotten about it. I'd then feel bad about throwing it away so I'd come up with some sort of dessert to make with chopped up candy, which was generally a fail, but somehow it felt better to throw away a Snickers cake than a bag of Snickers. Go figure.

And the good news is this - there will be MORE candy on Christmas! Yes, Christmas is an official Candy Holiday, too. So, before all the candy corn is gone, there are chocolate-covered cherries and candy canes. So, I throw out the Halloween candy (if there is any left over) and start collecting Christmas candy. After the first week or two of January, looking at a candy cane generally makes a person sick, so it's time to clear out the candy jar for....Valentine's Day! Yes, those conversation hearts and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates are sure to be entering your house so might as well toss the Christmas candy and get ready for the heart day sweets. Now, there is a bit of a candy drought between Valentine's day and the next official Candy Holiday which is Easter, but if you play your cards right, you can stretch it. Easter brings jelly beans and chocolate bunnies, which, if you get the large, solid chocolate variety, can last well into early summer. My kids were once given huge, solid chocolate bunnies which they never even opened. Again, I felt bad just throwing them away so I painstakingly chopped them into tiny bits and baked them into a banana cake. Yum!

Once the jelly bellies are gone, one must not despair for July fourth is just around the corner and all manner of red, white and blue candies abound! The Great Candy Drought comes between July fourth and Halloween, but it's tempered by the many chocolate candy bars consumed in summer s'mores.

So, you see, the candy is here to stay. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. If your kids don't eat it all, you will, and if you don't eat it, you'll just pass it on to someone who will. I used to have a hard and fast rule that I'd only buy candy for Halloween that I didn't like so that after the holiday, should any be left over, I would not feel bad throwing it out. Laffy Taffy? Yuck! Skittles? Ewww! Starburst? Ick. But Hershey's? Reese's? Three Musketeers? Yummmmm!!! See a pattern?

I ended up this year with a whole bag of unopened candy corn. And, lucky me, I happened to find a recipe for white chocolate fudge topped with candy corn and containing bits of pretzels. A salty-sweet combo that sounded too good to be true. I'm going to make it. I'll let you know how it turns out. In the meantime, if anyone has any leftover Reese's, send them my way. My kids finally figured out that they're not yucky.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The (dis)order of things........

I've come to the conclusion that it's virtually impossible to keep a house clean. Oh sure, you can CLEAN a house, but can you KEEP it clean? Not with kids and dogs and a kitten. I thought having one child away at college would surely cut down on the mess. And while the bedroom stays clean (but only because I spent three days, three precious days that I will NEVER get back, of my life cleaning it), and there are fewer ice-cream bowls and cups next to the computer, the general orderliness, or lack thereof, of the house is frightful.

For instance: at this very moment there are swim goggles on my bathroom counter. One of those large packaging tape dispensers is on the kitchen counter. The family room floor contains these items: a jacket, a pair of socks, candy wrappers, a large clump of dog hair, a video game and a stuffed monkey. Tonight I sorted socks and came up with five pairs and a basket of mismatched socks the size of a six-quart crockpot. From where I'm sitting I can see a blue feather boa, a pair of coveralls, a textbook, a bag full of bags (you know, the reusable variety? They are ever so useful when they are sitting in the entryway of my house and not with me at the store.), a Halloween skull, a bag of tealights, and a coupon for a free pizza. Within my arm's reach, I see a Victoria's secret bag, a gift bag, a coupon insert from the paper, a notepad, two bills, a bank statement and a Target bag full of candy (mostly wrappers) from trick-or-treating.

Sometimes I wish I were Amish. They don't have a lot of crap. We are the exact opposite of Amish. While the Amish favor a simple life with few material goods, we favor a life of chaos filled with crap. How much better my life would be if I simply had to choose between the blue and the brown dress each day. Instead, I have a dresser drawer with at least ten pairs of jeans in that don't even fit me! The really scary part is that I regularly "purge" stuff - clothes, household goods, craft items, even food. I always have a few large bags to give away when the donation trucks roll into the neighborhood. And we still have more.

George Carlin says we need "a place for our stuff". We get more stuff, and we buy a bigger place. I'm stopping at this house. This is the biggest house I ever hope to live in - from here I wish to continue to downsize until all I have left is a double-wide trailer and a toaster oven. Ok, not really. I still need shoes. But the point is, we all seem to have too much stuff. And that creates disorder and chaos and general discontent. Take my daughter's room, for instance (not the college daughter - her room is clean, remember?). My other daughter. Who is in high school. Who has a lot of clothes. And crap. And does not have any sense of order or organization. She is content to spend her days trodding upon her clean clothing, throwing candy wrappers on the floor and never dusting her room. Once I cleaned her room and found a spider in a pile of stuffed animals. I told her she would have spiders crawling on her while she slept (she was much younger then, so what? Scaring is a great parenting tactic!). That did not entice her to change her ways. Not at all. In fact, I'm certain she has spiders crawling in her room on a regular basis but does she care? She does not. Her room is a dark cave of despair. And she loves it. She crawls into her bed overflowing with Pillow Pets and a down comforter that "snows" feathers every time it moves and cocoons herself in her own disorder.

I get a little crazy when things get too bad. I grew up the worst of all pack rats. I could not bear to part with anything, ever. My room looked......well, like my daughter's room. I would spend a whole day about four times a year cleaning my room and then I'd be so proud, I'd make my whole family come and look at it. Once, in an attempt to win me over with humor, my mom posted a different poem each day, outlining how to clean my room, to my door. I laughed but did not get the hint. It wasn't until I was in my own apartment with roommates that I began to care at all what my room looked like. I like order and neatness as much as the next person, but I've found that my efforts are erased within minutes. I'll wipe off the kitchen counter and my husband will set his icky lunch box on it. Or a dog hair appears. And another. And another. The other day one of my kids put their SHOES on the kitchen table! Their shoes, with their sticky, germy, bacteria-ridden soles touching the place where we EAT! Who DOES that?

I honestly don't know how other people do it. I walk into their houses and see things in order, the white carpets neatly vacuumed with perfect vacuum lines, nary a dog hair on the counter. Do they walk around with Lysol wipes and attack every indiscretion as it happens? Do they restrict their kids from touching anything, having any clothes or toys, throw away all their artwork? Do they have dogs that simply never get muddy feet?

I would say "I give up" but I can't. I mean, I don't want anyone to report me to CPS or feature me on an episode of "Hoarders". But I really do not know how to keep a house clean when children, animals and a husband live in it. I told my husband last week that I wanted my own apartment. I don't think he bought it. I mean, I'm actually fantasizing about a new vacuum. My old one isn't working so well and the cheap replacement I bought is no match for our filth. I NEED the latest version of my old one. I actually get giddy when I go into the cleaning aisle at the grocery store. Today I bought antibacterial wipes and toilet bowl cleaners. I yearn for a clean and sparkling house that actually smells like "spring breeze" and not "dog breath". And yet, given the choice to clean my bathroom or waste an hour on Facebook, I'll choose the latter. I WANT a clean house, I just don't want to do it myself! Because I know no matter how much effort I put in, it will be ruined in a matter of minutes, hours or days. And who has time for that?