Category Archives: cleaning

The Voice In My Head

To The Voice in My Head,

Please excuse me while I attempt to discern whether you are friend or foe. I need to know if you are intuition revealing to me the secrets to my success or a distant cousin of OCD promising me ridiculous, infomercial-type control of my environment.

Are you here to inspire, lead and direct or distract and pacify my anxiety. Please tell me so that we can carry on, would you?

You insist that if I devote time now to putting systems and plans in place (and that will be A LOT of  work), I will have more time for the rest of the year to do some things I want to do. You say if I declutter, sell, donate, give away and otherwise dispose of extraneous items from my house and put cleaning, meal planning and other nasty little chores on automatic systems, I can be relieved of some of the burdens that are giving me a pain from the inside of my left shoulder blade up to the back of my head.

You assure me that ‘Spring Cleaning’ is not, in fact, reserved for Spring and NOW – right now – is the time to wash the cabinets, mop the floors and wipe down baseboards. You are completely certain that one full, top to bottom scrubbing of walls, windows, shelves and anything that will stand still is the answer to even my most existential questions.

Do you really have answers or are you trying to make me crazy?

The thing is, I am starting to believe you. Now, do you happen to know where I can get seven, magical days in which to clean & organize everything I need to make the year easier? Does anyone know how to stop space & time? Message me.

Sunday Scenes – Cleaning on a Sunday

Here is what I saw and photographed on Sunday.

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My Xbox Avatar – I like her!

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A common sight to see – the back of Ethan as he walks into my mother’s house. His favorite place to be.

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He had to see if he still fit in the sink. Why?

My brain told me to clean the living room.

I tried tidying.

It said ‘clean’ – as in move furniture, wash floors, cull books, dust lightbulbs (yes, my brain is like that) and clean the windows. If you don’t have a shred of obsessive-compulsive tendencies, you would not understand a brain that tells you that if you comply, and do what it wants, all will be well and right with world.

All will be right?! How could I not?

As I cleaned, I found a tragically lost library book. If you know anything about my library habits, I have on occasion had 99 library books out at one time – and I DO NOT lose library books. I searched for it and made it the topic of prayer ~ and here it was wedged behind a small book shelf partnering up with silvery gray dust bunnies in an effort to hid itself.

Now it is found.

All is right with the world.

My brain is good like that.

Skillz

I have a list entitled, “Things I Want The Boyz To Learn”.

Algebra, world history, and chemistry have not made my list. They can pursue these things if they wish – or their schools require it, it’s just that my list is way more important.

How to tie and tie, clean a bathroom, grill a steak and an effective way to make a sincere apology ~ those are on my list. How to start a charcoal grill, light a fire in a fireplace and jump start a car. It’s a long list. I take every chance I can ~ or make sure someone else can ~ to teach them things they simple won’t and can’t learn in school.

I needed to send a paper registration and a check – what?! no internet? – to a government agency last week. I sat Sean down to do it with me. Trust me, these things are WAY easier to do without an apprentice – but it must be done. Return address, stamp and address. Nope, he didn’t know what a zip code was. I explained that we could send almost anything through the mail and stamps are actual currency. His idea of mail was junk mail and Amazon deliveries. He liked the ‘check’ idea too. His usual exposure to any form of payment is ‘the swipe’ 🙂

I made some homemade soup for a sick family member last week. I called the boyz off their various electronic devices and sat them at the kitchen counter – do you think they were thrilled? They have NO concept of why food preparation might be hard if you are ill or grieving. Their food magically appears without much care for the planning, the list, and the shopping. They are getting better at cooking – and don’t worry, “how to make lasagna and chicken soup” are on the list. I explained disposable containers were imperative and not asking, just doing, is the preferred method for providing food – that most people will say that they are ‘fine’. We are men of action – remember that, boyz.

DSC00082Two of the boys, unfortunately, had the experience recently of learning how and why we send sympathy cards. Mikey, the sweet boy, asked if sending a card did not just remind the person of their loss. As sad as it was, I was glad we had a chance to talk about why we participate in certain social rituals regarding loss.

It takes a certain level of mindfulness to remember to pull them or push them into circumstances in which they can master all types of practical life skills. It is usually easier to do these tasks yourself, but not a good, long-term plan.

Other wise moms have reminded me that when there is a huge sink full of dishes – I am not the only one with working arms and when we are out of cookies….

Memorize & make Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

Memorize & make Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

Kondo-ing

Have you read it? Do you know about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up? I’ve read it and now I am putting into practice the wisdom of the magnificent Marie Kondo.

But, I did not always feel this way about Ms. Kondo. She wasn’t jiving with me. I didn’t feel her. The videos I watched on Youtube did not do her and her theories justice – or I just couldn’t ‘hear’ it yet. Then, some interesting things happened. First, although I was on the waiting list for her book at the library (36 of 52!) I found the book on the ‘It’s Your Lucky Day’ table. And it was indeed. Her written words found their way to my heart. Not coincidentally, I have also decided to engage in a particular type of therapy (the kind with a therapist) that has a lot to do with ‘unburdening’ parts of yourself.

People, if you don’t think things and clutter are all mixed up with the ‘things’ and ‘clutter’ inside of you…well, they are. This sister is more than ready to part with all the issues and stuff that rears it’s ugly head in both therapy and in the ‘Kondo’ing of my home.

So top to bottom, I am clearing out the crap. And it’s not all crap – but that doesn’t mean you have to own it. Some things are useful, some things seem sentimental, some things can still be used – none of that means you need to keep it.

“From the moment you start tidying, you will be compelled to reset your life. As a result, your life will start to change. That’s why the task of putting your house in order should be done quickly. It allows you to confront the issues that are really important. Tidying is just a tool, not the final destination. The true goal should be to establish the lifestyle you want most once your house has been put in order.”
Marie Kondo

Do not take anyone else’s word for how to sort your things with the KonMari Method – you really need to let her words sink into your psyche on their own. I thought I was good at this – not so much.

Her method is better. I have done my clothes, my dresser, closet, pantry, china closet, and most of the kitchen cabinets. I am doing the bathrooms, attic and linen closets.

Here are my beloved baking supplies. I don’t even think the first picture ‘looks’ that bad. I have assumed for a really long time that all was well in that cabinet. But, Ms. Kondo has you empty the entirety of the cabinet to assess what’s going on. I swear – I thought I had this.

Above, is my spice/cooking cabinet. I thought the same thing about that. Turns out I took a whole tash bag full of things out these cabinets. I found multiple items that were grotesquely expired. I found things I had three of and donated or gifted them to friends and family. I found things that I thought I would use someday – it just doesn’t happen and it is time to accept that. Because being ‘unburdened’ feels…well…like being unburdened.

This is a small example of Kondoing – and yes, I am using it as a verb – because it feels like a verb.

She explains that this ‘cleaning’ up time is an event. You should not have to do it forever. Those methods of slow, progessive decluttering only prolong an event that could be over & done with. She says ‘organizers’ are hoarders ~ gasp!

As an chronic organizer, I have to agree. So I quit.

I am over here, Kondoing. Even the books. Yes, even those. So far, no regrets. I feel lighter, I feel freer. I just know that this is step in the right direction for whatever is coming next.

Do you think that is from the cleaning or the therapy? Maybe they are one in the same 🙂

“All you need to do is take the time to sit down and examine each item you own, decide whether you want to keep or discard it, and then choose where to put what you keep.”

Clean

Clean. Cull. Swipe. Wipe. Scrub. Dust. Sweep. Buff. Polish. Shine. Purge. Disinfect. Arrange. Shine. Tidy. Mop. Scour. Stack. Pile. Collect. Organize. Brush. Cleanse. Sanitize. Fold. Fluff.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Yeah, that.

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Be A Ghost

When Ethan is in a particular mood, on most afternoons after school, he perseverates on a certain topic.

‘You die mom?’

‘Mom, your dead. Be a ghost.’

‘Mom? Gonna die, mom?’

‘Mom? Mom. I love grandma. I love dad. I love Gabby-boy. Not you – I ‘X’ you.’

Then he makes the sound you would hear if you gave an incorrect answer on a game show.

Peals of laughter commence – only from Ethan, of course.

He goes on and on about me becoming a ghost and haunting our present house. He maintains that it will then become a ‘Spooky House’. He tells me that I am ‘old’ and ‘yucky’. He rarely expresses this about Dennis – and he is old and yucky too!

Sometimes I ignore him – to the extent that it is possible to ignore Ethan. If he chooses, he can keep this up for hours. Sometimes I respond.

‘Yes, E, we are all going to die.’

‘Yes, E, if given the opportunity I will definitely haunt you.’

‘Ethan, if I die, who is going to make the food and do the laundry?’

He says he’s going to take over. Maybe he could start that now?

He has expressed these sentiments from the time he was very young. We can come up with no good reason for this particular behavior – or so many like it. It is inexplicable – like so much about him.

It is a hobby, a habit, a compulsion. My mom is often concerned that it upsets me. It does not. I recently had a compassionate friend concerned that it is hurtful. I am not sure why it does not bother me. I don’t believe that he secretly hates me and also, a lot of what Ethan does is confounding. It is far from the most difficult facet of his quirky self.

It’s fine. I love Ethan enough for the both of us. And if it turns out that it is, in fact, possible to haunt him or become a ghost when I die – I’m in.

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“It’s how you ride the trail that counts.”

~ Dale Evans (Rogers)

Did you know that Roy Rogers and Dale Evans had a baby girl with Down Syndrome? This book is a little beauty.

What’s Up?

‘Let me ‘splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.’ ~ Inigo Montoya, Princess Bride

So, what’s up?

~ Hockey Season is over at Greenbrook Hockey Club. That frees up weekend time to find some weekend fun in the coming weeks. Museums, NYC and state park events are just calling us. I can make a nice, long ‘honey-do’ list for Dennis. Despite my complaining about the sheer amount of time Dennis devotes to the league, it is a fantastic place that has provided the boys with a great sport and awesome friends.

~ Homeschooling in November, for me, is always a strange place to be. Things that are not working become clear and we ditch them. Seriously – what’s better than that? Switching my brain to searching for ‘indoor’ type of field trips is a hard one – but I’m working on it now. I dream of filling these crappy, cold months with good books, great documentaries and brain-changing games. A quick trip to the basement has revealed that we have many, unopened ‘science’-types kits that are begging to be tinkered with.

~ This is the beginning of when I need to grasp tightly to a self-enforced set of routines that keep me putting one foot in front of the other. I have struggled with SAD for the last several years, with last year being particularly bad. I use multiple modalities to deal with it. My little lamp, super good vitamins, lists that keep me honest and the dreams about this place 🙂 Maybe there is an encore in store for us?

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I obsess over this scene. I don’t think it’s normal – at all.

~ I am working hard on getting some serious, ‘life-planning’ issues in order. I don’t know what is prompting this strong feeling, but when I feel like this, I need to take action. I would like for us to review our long-term, financial goals and revamp or life insurance policies. It is extra important for us having a child with special needs. Every one in a while, we question whether moving is an option for our family. We are in a spot where we need to do some serious fact-finding. Bring it on.

~ We are experimenting with having some help with house cleaning every few weeks. If you would have ever told me that someday we could squeeze that into the budget and that it would freak me out and cause me stress, I would have seriously protested. But it’s true. I am uncomfortable and as nice as she is, I hide from the cleaning lady at all costs – I just pack everyone up and leave. Is this totally weird? I am not ungrateful, though.

Strange, anxious, cold (as in chilly), and busy – but not ungrateful.

(Sunday Scenes was preempted by this because I forgot to take pictures on Sunday – because I’m like that.)