Friday, February 24, 2012

Keeping House Tip #1 - Forget Perfect

I am a simple person, meaning, I like simplicity.  If it is complicated, I probably won't do it.  Which is why, if something is going to take me ten minutes to clean, it probably won't get done.
There have been a few times when a friend came over on short notice and then remarked, much to my delighted embarrassment, that they wish their house looked that good on a daily basis.  Now, there were likely dishes by the washer and I know there was dust on the shelves, but the dining table was clean, and the majority of my counters were clutter free.
The tips I'll be giving over the next few days have been gleaned from friends, books, and blogs.  I'm not saying that my house is perfect - far from it (my husband will attest to that!).  Lately, I've heard a lot of my friends wondering how a busy and tired mom keeps the house in order.  I'm hoping these tips will help you and ease any stress you have about cleaning.
Clean enough to be healthy, tidy enough to be happy.  ~Paula Mansur
Tip #1: Forget perfect.
No one expects your house to look like it should be in a magazine.  Perfection is your number one enemy.  Do little bits at a time, and clean what you CAN, not what you necessarily SHOULD (i.e. I really should mop the kitchen floor, but I'm only able to sweep it at the moment).  A lot of women feel that if they can't clean something perfectly, what is the point of even trying?  The point is that you actually DO something to clean, and it gets a little better each time you clean it.
Here's an example from my laundry room.  One day I noticed the top of my dryer was pretty dusty.  I took a dirty sock out of the washer, wet it, and made one swipe across the top of the dryer.  Wow, that was gross.  I didn't clean the entire top that day because I wanted my clothes to be clean and not covered in lint.  So, every time I did laundry that week, I'd take 30 seconds to wipe down the top of the dryer.  Eventually, it was clean.  Now I just take a dirty piece of clothing, get it wet, and wipe the entire top of the washer and dryer.  It literally takes 30 seconds.
Bottom line: perfection will stop you from cleaning what you are able to clean when you are able to clean it, and that means it will never get clean.  Don't aim for perfect, aim for consistency.  Aim for Good Enough.
Tip #2 - Clean as you go along

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Finding Enjoyment in the Chaos

Today and yesterday have been rather chaotic with my kids.  It seemed that every 10 minutes one of them got hurt, had a meltdown, or was in time-out.  They were constantly whining or complaining or crying about some wrong done by the other sibling.  It seems the only words out of my mouth were those of some sort of correction:
Please don't eat anything off the floor.
Crayons are for coloring paper only.
Do NOT slam doors!
Give your sister her blanket back.
You may not hit your brother with the Wii remote.
Stop chasing the cat.
We send the kids to sit on the stairs when they misbehave.  This gives mom and dad a chance to 1) finish whatever we are doing and 2) cool off if need be before we go over to deliver whatever discipline is necessary;  it is also the time-out spot.  It seems this weekend the stairs have been occupied by little bottoms for a few hours.  Earlier this evening my daughter was sent to time-out immediately after she got out, and then right after she got out the second time, my son was sent to the stairs.
Both my husband and I were getting very frustrated with the kids.  How in the world are we to enjoy our kids when they are making our lives miserable?
It doesn't help that, at 34 weeks pregnant, I feel as if I can't breathe and I've a lump of bile constantly in my throat.  I've had a very nice pregnancy so far, but now I am at the point where I can't get comfortable, I can breathe, and I can't eat.  I have 33 more days until this baby comes (at the most), and I plan on enjoying every one of them.  This is the first time I've whined (sorry) about my pregnancy - any of my pregnancies, I think.  It has just been a very trying two days and I need to vent a little; some empathy wouldn't hurt either. :)
It is hard to find enjoyment in the little things when the little ones are so un-enjoyable at the moment.  However, if I concentrate on the hard times, I will never enjoy my kids.  I have to make a point of finding the little enjoyable moments and remember those.
Like earlier when my son was needing comfort for some un-seen hurt and he bumped his head into my stomach.  "Hey!" I said.  "Why is 3-Dot (the nick-name we've given unborn baby) hitting you?"  I had my son in giggles in seconds.
Or, when my daughter had her footie pajamas trailing behind her as she raced around saying, "I'm a superhero, flying around!"
Those are the moments I need to hang on to, the moments I want to remember.  The time passes by so quickly.  I can't dwell on the brief moments of insanity; I need to dwell on the eternal moments of enjoyment within the chaos of our lives.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Mommy Version of the 30 Minute Meal

Rachael Ray has made 30-minute meals very popular.  I have perfected the art of a 30-minute meal.  Here's how this 34 week pregnant mom makes a 30-minute meal for her 4- and 2-year-old.
I decide on a can of spaghetti O's for the kids dinner.  Hey, when you are this pregnant, you sometimes opt for easy over healthy.  And it's is one of the few items that both kids will eat without complaint.
I start to open the can of O's.
My son needs help undoing his suspenders so he can go to the bathroom.
I finish opening the can.  I grab a bowl to put the O's in.
My daughter informs me that she needs her diaper changed.  I take a look and decide it is something I need to take care of right away.
I start to pour the O's into the bowl.  I stop midway to get a frozen cube of spaghetti sauce I've made with lots of vegetables (my pretense at healthy), plop it in the O's.
My son needs help with his clothes after going to the bathroom.
I finish pouring the O's into the bowl.
I am asked to help find my son's conductor hat (a small blue purse he puts on his head, the straps go under his ears).  I don't see it, so I suggest he look in the dress up box.
I resume pouring the O's into the bowl.
I put the can down to stop the kids from fighting over who gets to close the bathroom door (we have a strict rule about doors) since the conductor hat is NOT in the bathroom.  I suggest looking under my desk, where I see a tell-tale patch of blue.
I finish pouring the O's into the bowl.  Before I can get it into the microwave, my daughter is told to go sit on the stairs in time-out.  I put the bowl into the microwave and start it.
I go over to ask my daughter why she is in time-out.  She knows why.  I go and set the timer for her time-out.
I stir the O's after the microwave beeps for the third time (conversations with two-year-olds are never short), and start them on their second round.
I call my daughter to me after her time-out.  She brings a toy over with her.  We then talk about why toys are not allowed in time-out.  She runs off. (Meanwhile, my son lets me know the microwave is beeping.) I call her back because she needs to apologize, which she takes her time about doing.
I take two bowls out to distribute the kids' O's and wonder where I put the spoon I was stirring with.
My son lets me know that the microwave is beeping again.
My daughter races past me and hits me with her bracelet.  I stop what I am doing to speak to her and take the bracelet. She hands me her bracelet and pouts, but doesn't dispute because she knows she was wrong.
My son lets me know the microwave is still beeping.
I discover I forgot to cover the O's and have to wipe down the microwave.
I pull out cups for the kids.  I ask my son what color he wants.  He wants blue.  My daughter throws a fit.  I ask her what color she wants.  She wants green.  It was a needless fit.
I pour the milk and warm it up in the microwave.
My son needs help undoing his firefighter uniform.
The microwave beeps about three times before I am able to retrieve the warmed milk (my son lets me know every time it beeps, as if I can't hear it).
I start to distribute the O's into the kids' bowls.
Someone got hurt on accident and I am needed for comfort. 
I finish distributing the O's.
My daughter runs screaming to grab my legs as my son is running after her.   I untangle myself and send her on her way.
I put the bowls on the table and ask my son to get spoons while I put my daughter in her booster seat.
The kids both complain that they don't want spaghetti O's.  I tell them they are eating pasta zeros.  That seems to pacify them.
I bring the milk to the table amid complaints that my daughter wants green, which is what I set in front of her as she deflates and says with a pout, "Oh.  Thank you."
I finally sit down.
We pray, first my son, then my daughter (they both whiz through "Thankyouforfoodamen."), then it's my turn for a short prayer.
Approximately thirty minutes after I pulled the can out of the pantry, the kids are finally eating.  And that, my friends, is how you cook a 30-minute meal.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Clean House is a Lonely House

My house was finally clean.
There were no toys on the living room floor.  The couch had all the pillows on it and wasn't rumpled.
All of the dishes were done and put away.  The kitchen counters were clean, there were no crumbs on the floor.
All of the laundry was done and put away.  Every single bed was made.
Then I went to the airport and picked up my husband and kids.
Now there are toys and pillows scattered around the living room, crumbs on the kitchen floor and dishes in the sink.  There are about three loads of laundry waiting for me to do and I'm pretty sure that the kids' beds aren't made.
But you know what?  I don't care.  In fact, I am happier now than I have been all week while my husband and kids were gone.  I am glad for the little messes in my life because the people who put them there make my life so much better.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Why, Yes, Yes I Am Pregnant

I am 33 weeks pregnant today; and it is pretty obvious.
I turn into a total ditz when I am pregnant, as in the punch-line-of-a-blonde-joke ditzy.  As in I say something and my husband just looks at me and shakes his head.
I also can't remember anything.  Names of people I've known for years just fly out of my head.
I sit in the back of the sanctuary because I will need to use the bathroom mid-service.
People give me strange looks when I push on the moving lump on my stomach.  Hey, when you see a lump in the pizza dough or a bubble floating through the air, you want to poke it, right?  Same thing.
I am thankful that maternity pants have a panel that covers my stomach, because my maternity tops protest at covering my stomach completely.
When I drop something on the floor, I have a few choices:
  • wait for a little person to pick it up.
  • find a replacement.
  • decide I can do without it.
  • as a last resort, pick up dropped item in a very unladylike manner while making horrible grunting noises.
Hilarious, and sometime socially awkward things, happen to you when you are pregnant:
  • you stand on tiptoe to put something in the cupboard and upon completion of your task your stomach gets stuck on the counter.
  • you pull out a glass for some water, and then put it in the dishwasher before you use it.
  • you shut the pantry door on your protruding stomach, then your kids look at you like you are crazy while you laugh hysterically.
  • you stop walking when you have to sneeze or cough and hold your stomach while clenching your lower extremities; it looks really strange.
  • you say "excuse me" to pass someone and then misjudge the distance between their back and your stomach, and then have to apologize all over yourself while red in the face.
And then there are the pregnancy neuroses:
  • you don't want to go to bed because you are afraid you won't be able to fall asleep due to restless leg syndrome, thinking too much, can't find the right position, etc.
  • you wake up in the middle of the night on your back and, gasp! Have I killed the baby??
  • for some reason, people's opinions really matter and can really make you upset; and even though your mind is telling you there is no reason to be upset, you cry anyway.
  • you think about all the things you need to buy to make it "even" for your third child: the first two have matching water bottles and matching beach chairs.  Will I be able to find a third one that matches as well?  Maybe I should go out and buy one tomorrow, just for the future, even though my baby won't be able to use it for at least two years.
  • you wonder about the non-microwaved lunch meat you just consumed because you were hungry, but didn't remember that you're supposed to cook the meat first to avoid some sort of bug invading your system and possibly sending you into pre-term labor or some flu-like illness.
  • you ramble on and can't seem to stop yourself even though you know you should have put a few commas or periods in that last sentence and you wonder what in the world people think about your lack of writing skills.
I love being pregnant.  I'll almost be sorry for this pregnancy to end!  I will look forward to sleeping on my back again, though.
Oh, and being able to breathe freely...that will be nice too.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

31 Weeks

I have really been enjoying this pregnancy.  I have been fortunate enough to not have any morning sickness, which I did with my first two pregnancies.  I actually look pregnant this time around as well.
I love feeling my baby move around all the time.  He gets hiccups a lot; it cracks me up.
The strange part is, I am kind of dreading the end of pregnancy, because that means I will have a baby on my hands to take care of.
Most women love infants, the smell of a baby head, the way they just sleep all the time, just getting to hold them and snuggle with them.  That's nice, but...I don't particularly enjoy the first three months of my baby's life.  I am sleep deprived and struggling to get to know this strange person who has entered my life.
I'm not looking forward to the sleepless nights.  I get frustrated when the baby cries and I can't figure out what is wrong.  Breastfeeding frustrates me as well; I did not have an enjoyable experience breastfeeding either of my kids.
This time around I will have a two year old and a five year old as well.  I feel like I am not equipped to handle the two kids I have much less adding a third to the mix.  I get easily frustrated with my kids and often find myself saying things in a tone that I hate.  Their whining gets on my nerves and then I seem unable to think straight.  How will I be able to handle a screaming infant on top of that?
Seek the LORD and his strength. Always look to him.  1 Chronicles 16:11
These are the things I think of while I am waiting for the baby to come.  I have two months left of my final pregnancy.  I want to take full advantage of them and enjoy the time I have left with this baby where I can almost effortlessly take care of him.

Friday, February 3, 2012

To Paper Or Not To Paper

In trying to save money, as well as reduce waste, I've been trying to get my family to use fewer paper towels.  We use paper towels mostly for two things: picking up cat throw up and draining cooked bacon.
I use the paper towels for the cat mostly because, well, it's gross.  I would rather just throw the paper towel away than have to rinse a cloth towel into the sink.  Being pregnant makes me a little more prone to queasiness, so in that case, I'll go with convenience.
As for the bacon, I just can't imagine draining it onto a cloth towel.  Wouldn't the grease clog up your washing machine?  Would the grease contaminate the other towels?
If you do not use paper towels in your house, how would you get around the bacon grease issue?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

If You Give A Mom A Muffin

We love the "If You Give A..." book series by Laura Numeroff.  The kids got three of the books for Christmas, bringing our total up to five of the books in the series.  If you've read them, and you are a mom, you will probably appreciate this.  I'm just sorry I can't take credit for it; it is hilarious!
Photo by Marufish

If you give a mom a muffin, she'll want a cup of coffee to go with it. 

She'll pour herself some. 
Her three-year-old will spill the coffee. 
She'll wipe it up. 
Wiping the floor, she will find dirty socks. 
She'll remember she has to do laundry. 
When she puts the laundry in the washer, she'll trip over boots and bump into the freezer. 
Bumping into the freezer... will remind her... she has to plan supper. 
She will get out a pound of hamburger. 
She'll look for her cookbook (101 Things To Make With A Pound Of Hamburger.) 
The cookbook is sitting under a pile of mail. 
She will see the phone bill, which is due tomorrow. 
She will look for her checkbook. 
The checkbook is in her purse that is being dumped out by her two-year-old. 
She'll smell something funny. 
She'll change the two-year-old. 
While she is changing the two-year-old the phone will ring. 
Her five-year-old will answer and hang up. 
She'll remember that she wants to phone a friend to come for coffee. 
Thinking of coffee will remind her that she was going to have a cup. 
She will pour herself some. 
And chances are, if she has a cup of coffee, her kids will have eaten the muffin that went with it.
By Beth Brubaker