Mommy Gone Berserk (over a Cheezit)!

cheezitInstead of spending my typical, lazy Sunday afternoon taking a much deserved siesta, I let my 12-year old talk me into a cleaning frenzy (she wants to have a friend over next weekend – read ulterior motive). Me, being, me figured, OK at least I’d get some help with the drudgery and agreed to her plan. She’d start in the kitchen, I’d focus on the living room/dining room, and the little one got stuck with the bathrooms. She plugged in the iPod and the tunes blared through the house as we got down to work.

After about ten minutes, the youngest decided to “help” me instead of working on her designated room (can’t say I blame her there). One corner of our living room is called the “peace” corner. Originally the idea behind said “peace” corner was to give the girls a place to “chill” when they got overwhelmed and needed a “time out.”  Unfortunately, it quickly became the dumping place for all the stray toys that never made it back upstairs to their bedroom. We targeted that area first, sorting stuff into various piles: the Barbie pile, the American Girl Doll pile, the Polly Pockets/Littlest Pet Shops pile, the book pile, the hair stuff pile, the pens/pencils/markers pile, the stuffed animal pile and laundry/shoe pile. As you can tell a lot of stuff fit/crammed into that little corner.

I made painstaking progress as my helper found her “long, lost” something or other and switched to playing instead of helping. I let it go as I could clean a lot faster (and put a bunch of junk in the “trash” pile) without her watchful eyes. My 12-year old was still on a mission to somehow turn our house into one out of Better Homes & Gardens (I applaud her lofty goals). Three hours later, the kitchen gleamed and the living room looked descent (at least we wouldn’t be showcased on Hoarders Buried Alive this week). I’d just finished wiping the sweat off my brow, priding myself on a job well done, when the incident happened. (I shutter even now thinking about it:))

The little one is making her American Girl Doll kick an American Girl Doll-sized soccer ball across the freshly vacuumed carpet. My oldest saunters into the room and informs her little sister that she doesn’t get to have a friend over because she didn’t help clean up. (I know that’s a lot of she’s, but you get the idea.)

“Yes, I did too help!” the youngest screams in her loud, screechy, seven-year-old voice (you know the kind that makes you wish you had ear plugs). She then reaches into the box of Cheezits that sat on the end table (she hadn’t gotten around to putting away yet) and throws one at her sister. I watch as it sails across the room and lands in the middle the carpet. It was in this moment (the last straw so to speak) that I lost it and am ashamed to say dropped the “F” bomb. My oldest recoiled in horror. The little one just shrugged her shoulders and smiled at me. Can you believe her audacity!?! I let a few more expletives fly and looked directly at my oldest daughter and said, “Yeah, I said a bad word and I’m going to say some more if you two don’t stop fighting and some one doesn’t pick up that blankety-blank Cheezit right now.”

Thank God above, they didn’t argue over who was going to pick it up and the little one bent down and actually picked it up. I don’t really know what she did with it next (I doubt she ate it, though, as she is my germ-a-phobe) as I headed upstairs to lace up my running shoes. Five minutes later I hit the pavement. Forty minutes and four miles later, I felt much better. I apologized to the girls for yelling and swearing. They apologized for fighting and being a tad messy and we forgave each other. Hugs all around and our house is mostly clean.

Next Sunday afternoon, though, I’m definitely taking a nap!

I Saw My First Robin This Spring On My Way To Church And…

I saw my first robin this spring on my way to church this morning and smiled. Seeing that red-breasted bird after months of dreary bleakness always brings me hope. The little guy was sitting in a patch of brown muddy grass next to a stop sign – prime worming ground I’m guessing. Unfortunately for him and me tomorrow freezing rain and snow are in the forecast with the official start of spring only days away.

Last year at this time we had unseasonable 80-degree weather. It doesn’t look like even the luck of the Irish is going to bring that warm sunshine this March. Sigh. Yet with the tweet of that “rocking” robin I am reminded that in the coming weeks the trees will bud and the daffodils and tulips will bloom. And while I wait for the warm weather to spring me (get it spring?) from my bulky winter coat and sweaters, I’m taking the time to declutter and purge the things crowding out light and energy from my life.

Yes, in research for my next novel, I’ve been reading a lot about Feng Shui. In particular, I just finished a book by Cathleen McCandless called “Feng Shui that Makes Sense – Easy Ways to Create a Home that FEELS as Good as it Looks.” The principles and ideas behind this art and science of arranging and making a living space a place where you want to spend time and actually enjoy fascinates me. The concepts make so much sense to me. Step one in the form process is to get rid of anything you don’t love or doesn’t provide a practical use. So I’m slowly going room by room to get rid of the CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes, cassettes, old clothes, shoes, toys, books, knickknacks and other stuff taking up space in our house. After three trips to Good Will in the last few weeks, I’ve gotten rid of bags and boxes full of stuff and it feels great! In fact it feels better than great, it feels wonderful. I know I have a long way to go, but I will get there bit by bit, bag by bag, box by box. The best part is that my girls are getting into it too. They spent yesterday with me going through drawers thumb up-ing and down-ing clothes and toys. I am proud of their eagerness to make our house more of a home.

As my five-year old said the other night as she explained to her Dad why we were loading two garbage bags of clothes into the van. “Clutter causes confusion!”

Yes an “A-ha” moment from her kindergarten class’ life guiding principles. Yes, indeed…clutter does cause confusion. And so here’s to a clutter-free life filled with clarity and understanding.

What about you? Have you heard of or tried feng shui? Any tips or suggestions?

Shiny Sinks, Garage Sales and Mouse Traps

When I read the Fly Lady’s definition of CHAOS as the “Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome,” I smiled, nodding my head, “Yes.”

“Aha” I thought to myself. “This is it.” The Fly Lady understands me and my home. She knows how depressing it is to come home to a messy, disorganized home. She knows how overwhelming the piles of “stuff” can be and how hopeless perfectionist types can become when faced with the messiness of it all and just give up. While my home is far from being featured on “Hoarders, Buried Alive,” it also not going to be featured in “Better Homes & Gardens” any time soon either. As an INFJ on the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator, my J’ness wants organization. I like my DVD’s alphabetized. I can’t stand that my iTunes library has duplicates that I can’t get rid of! I want everything in its own place.

So when I came upon the Fly Lady website a few years ago, I readily jumped on the Fly Lady bandwagon. The first step in gaining control of the CHAOS is to clean your kitchen sink and then shine it every night before you go to bed. The shiny sink then smiles up at you every morning when you wake up encouraging you to tackle the next “hot spot” using baby steps. So I did. My sink sparkled for less than 8 hours. When I got up the next morning, sitting in the middle of my shiny sink sat an empty glass. Sigh. I tried to teach my family the rules, but they never seemed to stick. Every now and then, I will try the system again, but inevitable give up. Discouraged. You see it felt as if as soon as I got one room neat and organized and moved to the next one, somebody or somebodies came along and trashed it again. The other day I saw a quote posted on Facebook that read, “Cleaning with children is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos.” I laughed out loud at that one. How totally true!!!

So they other day when the girls heard a mouse in their room, my first instinct was to purge. The idea of renting a huge dumpster and having a huge toss it fest really appealed. Instead I told them to clean up their room so their dad could set some mouse traps and catch the varmint that was interrupting my sleep. Interrupting my sleep not because I was worried about the mouse so much (living in an old farm house I’ve learned to put my rodent fears aside, although I’d still scream if one actually crawled over me), but rather because the girls couldn’t sleep with the idea that a mouse cohabited their room.

My youngest recognized they had too much stuff in their room and lots of toys
they no longer played with. Good girl! I thought. Let’s get the dumpster or at least some trash bags. But no, they decided we should have a garage sale. I told them if they wanted to have one they could, but I didn’t have time to help them. In the middle of dusting and vacuuming the living room, I was in no mood to help them in what turned out to be a ploy for getting out of actually cleaning their room. So, they excitedly brought down old Barbie dolls, books and stuffed animals and spread them out over a card table. They made signs and sat in the hot sun and waited and waited and waited. I actually felt a bit sorry for them. Like I said we live in the country. We don’t get much traffic on our road and we didn’t advertise the “sale.” After an hour or two they dumped their stuff in the living room and complained about their lack of sales.

“Why don’t we just take the stuff to Good Will,” I suggested to blank stares and frowny faces. You see, I’m not a big fan of garage sales. I don’t mind going to garage sales, it’s just the having them I don’t care for. Dumpsters and donation bins are really more my thing. But, the girls really want to do the garage sale. I told them, I’d think about having one later this summer. “When?” they asked. “Later,” I replied, hoping they’d forget about the whole thing. “OK,” they finally agreed and turned on a re-run of “Good Luck, Charlie.” A reprieve for me…

By the way…we did catch the mouse so at least now my sleep cycle is back on track.

So, how do you keep chaos under control?

Alone At Last

The house is quiet. No one is whining or arguing or screeching. The TV is not blaring, nor is it even on. No music, no vacuuming, dish washer hum or clanking of the dryer, the wind isn’t even blowing. The only sounds I hear are the permanent ringing in my left ear, the taping of my fingers on the keyboard as I write and the occasional car drive down my desolate country road. More bliss. Alone at last with only my thoughts to keep me company.

It had been over four months since I last found myself in this wonderful predicament. And now for the second time in three days, I find my self totally and completely alone in my own home. Yeah me!!!  Thursday I took advantage of the fact that the girls still had one more day of school before the holiday break and my husband had to work, and took a vacation day. What did I do with my short-term freedom you might ask? Did I sleep until noon and then take a nap at 3, stay in my pajamas all day, read the next romance in the series, take a luxurious,soothing bath, dance naked through the halls singing Jingle Bell Rock (sorry for the visual there), eat chocolate ice cream as I painted my toenails pink? Sigh, alas I did not, but I could have, if I wanted to, and no one would be the wiser.

Instead, though I finished the last-minute Christmas shopping, bought groceries and wrapped all the presents. You might not think those three things would take that much time…but after I dropped the kids off at school at 8, it was almost 11:00 by the time I got done running errands. I did at least indulge in some cinni-minis from Burger King. After putting the groceries away, I started the daunting wrapping task. I drug all the presents, paper, ribbons, tape and scissors into the living room. What a pile it was. At this point I almost did go back to bed for that nap! But to encourage myself, I popped in the last Pirates of the Caribbean movie (at least I would have Jack Sparrow to keep me company) and went about the task.

Even though I had two pairs of scissors, three rolls of tape and a couple of pens it seemed I was always searching for one or the other. How they could manage to hide and move was beyond me – I think my daughter’s “Elf” may have been messing with me. In the end though, the wrapping was done and so was the shopping. I glanced at the clock and realized it was already almost 4 o’clock. I had still had to stop by work and pick up the last of the online presents I bought due to be shipped by the end of the day and then get the kids. Damn-I hadn’t even started my cleaning frenzy…

And thus my alone time end. So, today I find myself with a second chance at aloneness. The kids spent the night at Grandma and Grandpa’s and my husband went hunting with his dog.  Hmmm…what to do, what to do. As you can tell by now I have not started my cleaning frenzy yet nor am I sleeping in. I am procrastinating by blogging instead… I know I should vacuum and dust and mop and clean the toilets, but well as my daughters would say…”That’s not fair!” Why should I have to do all the cleaning, while everyone else is having fun. The house can stay dusty for one more day, week, month, year.

I think I will dance nak… Just kidding, I can’t even subject myself to that, but maybe I will stick Just Dance into the Wii and do a little clothed “Hammer Time!”  Can’t Touch This….

Happy Holidays!

S