Saturday, February 21, 2015

Cleaning house........

When I was a kid, we'd always ask my mom what she wanted for her birthday, or mother's day or any other gift-giving occasion. She'd almost always reply "A clean house!" I remember thinking, wow, moms are SO boring if all they want is a clean house! Not toys? Not new clothes? Not a nice dinner out?

Well, now that I'm grown up - and my kids are (or nearly) grown, I can vouch for the fact that a clean house is the BEST gift. There's nothing like walking into a house that is in order, who's surfaces are dust-free, who's floor is not strewn with dog-hair tumbleweeds, who's bathroom surfaces are free from spittle drops on the chrome, who's kitchen sink is empty instead of teetering with dishes, and who's carpets have fresh vacuum marks. Ahhhhh..........nirvana!

It takes a lot of work to get a house that way. I don't know about you, but I know people who vacuum every day! I know, right? Who the hell has time for that? Or people who clean their bathrooms on a schedule or (gasp!) employ a cleaning service! Not this mama. I've never paid anyone to clean my house, and while that sounds heavenly, it also sounds like a lot of work on my part to pick up and organize so someone who lives outside my home doesn't see the real chaos and filth we live in daily.

Ok, maybe not filth. I mean, we're not hoarders and there's no mouse poop on the surfaces or months' worth of dog hair collecting in the corners. But there are piles of papers, half-finished projects and dishes where they shouldn't be on the daily. It's a never-ending cycle and it's never easy to get anyone to willingly clean.

Today, though, I did ask my son to clean his room. He announced to his sister that I was "holding them hostage" until the cleaning was done. While not quite that dramatic, I appreciated that he did a passable job of cleaning (although he left the house with no sheets on his bed so that means he'll likely sleep on the floor in front of the fireplace for several more nights until he's forced to put clean sheets on the bed). He even helped me with "the high stuff" which was taking down the Valentine decorations from the ceiling. And he did it without complaining. Seriously, if there was a Hallmark card that read "Thank you for not being an asshole about cleaning up the house I let you live in for free" I'd totally buy that card for him.

And I've done the dishes and wiped down the counters and vacuumed the upstairs and tackled a pile of filing six months in the making. But the thing is? I REALLY hate cleaning. I almost hate it as much as cooking. Sure, I love the end results of both, but I figure I have four kids and a husband so why should I EVER have to run the vacuum or wash a dish? Still, I do it. Because, as the mom, I'm the only one who will pick up the wrapper that dropped on the floor days ago, or actually MOP a floor on my hands and knees (ok, like once a year, but STILL), or wipe out that little plastic tray that sits in the fridge under the water dispenser and grows pink with mold unless I clean it. Maybe I just notice it more?

But, ah, the days when the house is clean! This usually happens just before a party or event we're hosting at our house. Everything is vacuumed, dusted, bathrooms sparkle, and we light candles. And I look around and think "Wow, this is MY house!" And then I sit down with an adult beverage and soak it all in. Ok, not really, but that's how I envision it. Even better is when I come home and one of my darling children (ok, just Arlie) has done the dishes and picked up and I don't feel like I immediately have to fix something before I can sit down. That doesn't happen often, but when it does? Those are the best days!

And I make plenty of messes on my own. My office is a disaster. How I long for some type of organizational system that stays organized. But I just have so many PROJECTS I want to do, and I start them, and I run out of time or motivation and then things get pushed aside for more interesting pursuits. I'm not sure I could function in a perfectly clean and organized office. A bit of chaos seems to unleash the creative process for me.

People often say our home feels so "comfortable" - that you can "just be" in our house. I think what they're really saying is "You don't have any nice shit so we can't mess anything up." Because it's true. Sure, we have things we treasure, but our 15-year-old flattish carpet has had plenty of stains, our walls are full of pinholes because we hang decorations up for every holiday and event, and our furniture wasn't all that special or expensive even when it WAS new. It's good that people feel comfortable here. We don't bother to take off our shoes (anymore), and sometimes we go to bed and leave teriyaki containers on the coffee table which results in the dog eating styrofoam all morning. That actually happened this morning and the dog's stomach is making weird noises as I type this so who knows? There might be a pile of dog barf in my future. No worries, we have a carpet cleaner!

And I know I make things harder for myself. For example, when the kids have a pile of friends over and everyone is snuggling and watching movies and using every blanket in the house, I find it necessary to wash ALL the blankets, even though they'll probably repeat the process again the next night. I'll spend WAY too much time organizing the art cabinet even though no one really uses it anymore. And how do things get so messy anyway? Like those crumbs that collect in your silverware drawer? Seriously, how?

So, I'd rather do anything (like blog, scroll through Facebook, eat a bowl of Lucky Charms, pluck my chin hairs, fold laundry) than clean my house. I'm avoiding it right now, in fact. But my husband just texted me that he's going to be home in a couple of hours, so I'm going to do a super fast clean so it looks like I've been cleaning all day. My aunt once told me all she had to do was fold the blanket on the back of the sofa and her husband would remark that the house was nice and clean. I figure if most of the surfaces can be uncluttered and the wind doesn't blow dog-hair tufts down the hall when the door opens, it's all good. And no amount of vacuuming is going to bring the pile of my carpet back to its original fluffiness. The hardwoods don't shine like they used to.

But it's home. And I like it here.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Midwinter break........

For some reason, our school district gives us a week off in February and calls it "mid-winter break." Some say it was created to disrupt the flu cycle, others debunk that theory. Whatever the reason, I'm not one to complain about a week off work, so I've thoroughly enjoyed my break that is quickly winding down.

While others were basking on a beach in California, I opened an esty shop here. I got a hankering to make some jewelry and I've kind of been on a roll. Most of what I've made has been supplied to me from my Buy Nothing group and I've purchased a few supplies as well. But I have not made a huge investment and I don't plan to unless I need to. As in, if anyone actually buys anything! I have sold one pair of earrings and one necklace off a Facebook page, so that's cool. Mostly I'm just having fun creating. I'm planning to add Jeff's leather bags (those take a bit longer to make!) and maybe some things the kids create. Either way, it's been fun and has occupied a good portion of my time off.

While others were eating shaved ice in Hawaii, I went on a hike. It wasn't a long hike, but it was fun and made me realize how much I love being outdoors. But not alone. Which is weird. But I don't like going for walks alone and I can't imagine taking a hike on my own. I think it's because one time a big dog charged at me while I was walking, and thank God I was with Jeff, who immediately stepped in front of me and charged at the dog, because if I were alone, I'd probably have cowered to the ground and been attacked. I hate mean dogs! And I'm just so BORED when I walk alone. So, as much as I'd love to be one of those people who wanders in the woods and contemplates life, I'm much more likely to be scurrying along a trail, worried about the psychos hiding in the bushes waiting to attack me with a machete. Yes, I watch too much "Criminal Minds" on TV.

While others screamed on roller coasters in Disneyland, I had coffee and breakfast with my best friends. And by that I mean we consumed some food but mostly we sat and talked for four hours each time. "Coffee" for us is a half-day event. We don't get to see each other often, so we make the most of it. We talk about kids and college and all the things that go along with our kids getting older and our houses being empty or near-empty nests and what we do with our time. We lament our lack of exercise and laugh at people wearing purple. Because purple seems to follow us everywhere we go these days.

While others took morning jogs along an Arizona desert highway, I logged less than 3,000 steps on my Fitbit most days. Ok, some days I only did 1,500. Basically I have moved very little. Even the hike didn't put me at the pinnacle achievement of 10,000 steps which I have only achieved once, ever, according to my fitness trackers. Take today, for example. I got up at an ungodly hour (ok, the same time I get up on a normal work day, which is oddly SO painful on a vacation day), took my son to get his braces removed, took him to breakfast and a little shopping, came home, sat in front of my computer, took a two-hour nap, sat in front of the computer some more, then sat and made jewelry for a few hours, then sat in front of my computer some more. Basically at this point, my butt should be the size of Africa. And while it's close, it's not quite there yet and I do feel badly for my lack of movement today but I also feel like I'm on vacation so what the hell? I deserve to relax, right?

While others took their kids on college visits, I watched my kids lay on the couch, leave teriyaki leftovers in styrofoam containers all over the family room, take an embarrassing number of selfies, let the dishes stack up until they fell over, and sleep on the floor because their beds were covered with laundry (ok, maybe that was just my son...). But, whatevs. I'm not worried about their futures. They will come regardless. And I have some pretty smart, talented, fun and funny kids. I know they will all do well in life, even if we can't afford multiple college visits or they take more than four years to finish college or they go to (gasp) community college. Because they're pretty awesome, this foursome I have. I love them!

And I meant to do so many more things - spring cleaning, workouts every day, writing....oh, the writing I was going to do! But instead life happened and I spent time surrounded by my family and I listened - to their conversations, to their interactions with their friends and significant others, to the sweet, precious sounds of their baby voices while watching home videos, to my daughter singing softly at age 6 in a school production that made me cry. And it was all good. And I was happy. And I am happy.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Ode to a toaster oven...........

The other day, I was cleaning the kitchen when I decided to move the toaster oven just a scooch more than usual to wipe up the crumbs under it. You know, a teensy bit more than the cursory few inches where the crumbs collect in the back and you get a wild hair once in a while to REALLY clean the counter top underneath?

So, I moved the toaster oven and that flimsy bottom tray thing that's supposed to "catch" the crumbs fell off! Crumbs and bits of burned toast spilled out all over the counter. I figured it was a sign that I should give the ol' girl a good wipe down so I did and when I tried to reattach the catch tray it was, well.....toast! (Hee, hee, punny!)

The tiny little bracket had broken off and there was no getting that crumb catcher back on. No problem, I thought, I'll just set it on a cookie sheet or something. But then I got to thinking, it's time to replace that relic! After all, we'd had it for 15 years and aren't appliances supposed to crap out after, like, two years? So, we decided to put the geriatric toaster oven to rest and purchased a new one.

Even more astonishing? I didn't purchase it. I trusted my HUSBAND (I know!) to select and purchase a new toaster oven on his trip to the store that evening. I didn't research new features, compare prices or even give it a second thought until he returned with a gleaming new toaster oven, purchased for under $30. Yay!

I plugged in the new one and set aside the old one. I was pretty excited - I mean as excited as one gets about new appliances. But then the kids came home.

No one said anything right away, but a few hours later, my son said "I can't believe you replaced my childhood toaster oven!" Whaaatttt??? Who associates their childhood with an appliance? Well, apparently my kids do because not a few hours later, I heard, from my daughter, "Our childhood toaster oven is gone!"

I mean, it's not like I sold their baby teeth on ebay or ceremoniously burned their baby books! It's a TOASTER OVEN! It sat on the counter for several days until our oldest came by for a rare visit. "Oh, you got a new toaster oven?" she observed almost immediately, "Can I have the old one for my apartment?" That toaster oven was seconds away from the trash, and she swooped in and saved it!

And the best part? Her siblings can come and visit the ancient toaster oven when they get nostalgic for their childhood.

Kids are so weird.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Whatever Wednesday

Whatever Wednesday - my blog post about random stuff in the news, in my life, or....whatever.

First off, what the HELL is up with the anti-vaccination people? I mean, I understand some people cannot be vaccinated for health reasons but other than that? Please just vaccinate. We're dealing with MEASLES now, people! A disease that was all but eradicated with vaccines. And now? This should not be happening. I know people are VERY passionate about their reasons for and against, and I don't want to open THAT can of worms, but I vaccinated all my kids against everything for which a vaccine was available. The consequences of that are that my kids are healthy and fine. Am I pro-vaccine? Yes. Do I think you should be? Well, I'm not going to tell you what to do with your own kids and your own life, but if you choose not to vaccinate then please don't take your infected kids to Disneyland or on an airplane. That is all.

Vagina steaming. What the what? I don't care if consciously uncoupled Gwyneth does it, if you need to steam your vag you might have other problems. Also? Who performs this "service"? Maybe the same people who provide Brazilian waxing. I cannot imagine the ickiness of that job. Who wants to look at vaginas all day? I'm talking to you, OB/GYNs. Of course, who would choose to be a proctologist? Funny story: I actually met a proctologist in an elevator once on my way to an OB/GYN appointment (this is not a joke). I asked him WHY?? For the love of God, WHY? And he said "specializing". It's all about the money, people. But I'd have to be REALLY broke before I'd steam vaginas for dolla dolla bills.

Wait, Johnny Depp is 51? Years old? Holy shit.

And Bruce Jenner is a WOMAN? Or, soon to be? Where have I been?

There is such a thing as a pop-tart stuffed doughnut. What will they think of next? Truth be told, today I bought chocolate-dipped cheesecake on a stick. I'm not kidding. I decided to bring a treat to celebrate a friend's birthday at dinner tonight and when I saw that delicacy I just knew we had to try it. I mean, it's CHEESECAKE! On a STICK!

We have an epidemic of cell phone addiction as evidenced by this photo. Click and be sad for humanity.

These sound delicious and someone should make them for me! They're called Carmelitas and doesn't that just SOUND good? The first person who makes these for me will get something. It might just be my undying love, but that's worth a lot.

I just had to help my son get dressed in his tux for choir. WHY don't they make pants for women like tux pants? They have adjustable sides! For fat days! Also, why is it called a cummerbund? And why do people call it a cumBERbund? It serves no purpose. However, again, I think it would be awesome attire for women to disguise and hold in our muffin tops.

I'm both thrilled and dismayed that Harper Lee is publishing another novel. "To Kill a Mockingbird" is one of my all-time favorite books, but I'm afraid the hype might overshadow the new novel. And, you know, she could have just been "one and done" and rested on her laurels. But I think it's brave to publish another book, especially one written in the 1950's and lost for decades. I can't wait to read it.

Well, I'm off to birthday dinner and cheesecake-on-a-stick with my two best friends. Plus, adult beverages. Until next time!