Clean: I don’t think it means what you think it means

dust bunny

Some helpful tips for people who are unfamiliar with the term “clean” and it’s ramifications.  Particularly my husband and my kids, all of whom seem to think it means pushing things off the bed and putting the shoes in lines on the floor. 

When you set out to clean a room you should:

  1. Put everything in the room away.  That means that you actually pick up the items and put them where they belong.  Pushing the items to the edge of the room does not qualify as putting those items away.  Neither does putting them under the bed or in a pile near the bed.  Similarly, gathering them in a stack and putting that stack in another room doesn’t count as putting things away.  Even if the things belong in that room, they aren’t put away until they are back where they belong.  Inside drawers, shelves, cabinets, closets, boxes, buckets, or magic treehouses.  Nothing belongs in a pile on the floor or in a pile on the bed.  Nothing.
  2. Throw away any trash.  It’s not ridiculous.  Stop laughing.  You have to gather up any used packaging, papers you no longer want, and other items that no longer serve any purpose.  Then you have to put those items in the trash.  You also have to take the trash out and put it wherever trash goes – like the big rolling trash can outside.  Then you have to wipe off the trash can – inside and out.  That way there won’t be leftover shampoo slime stuck on the side of the trash can in your clean room when you’re done.
  3. Dust.  Dusting is when you run a duster or wipe over a surface to remove the constantly-building layer of fine particles that land everywhere.  Dust gets everywhere.  It isn’t because you’re living filthy, unless you leave it so long that it organizes itself into bunny colonies.  That only happens if you’re the kind of slob whose kids only see you dust in the summer.  Not that I speak from experience or anything.  Anyway, you have to dust.  You have to do it before you do the floors or any wet wiping because if you do it after you end up with dust on the places you just vacuumed, wiped, mopped, or swept.  If you do a half-assed job dusting, it will be even more obvious than not dusting at all.  You have to dust everywhere – the tops of door frames; the bottoms of panels in doors; the tops, bottoms, and fronts of pictures on the wall; the tops, sides, and holes in knick knacks; the tops of shelves, furniture, cabinets, baseboards, and chair rails; the legs and braces on chairs and furniture; the tops and sides of fixtures and features; windowsills; everything.
  4. Disinfect.  This means that you use some kind of disinfectant to wipe down any fixtures, appliances, and countertops.  This includes stoves, microwaves, refrigerators, sinks, tubs, showers, toilets, and anything else you find.  You have to wipe it enough to scrub off any spots or blobs of gunk on there.  Cabinet fronts may not need to be disinfected, but they definitely need to be cleaned.  Otherwise you end up with trails of gunk and goo stuck on them that show you up as a poor housekeeper.  We all know what horror that strikes into your soul.
  5. Vacuum and/or sweep.  Back in the day we were taught that vacuums have no business on floor surfaces except for carpet.  They would damage the floor beyond repair and probably make you go blind one day.  Or something.  If you are hanging onto those ideas, you can sweep the hard floors.  Whatever.  It’s faster and avoids the dustpan to vacuum, though.  This is your shot at any bunnies who escaped your dusting, too.  By the way, if you run the vac over the carpet and stuff stays on there, you have to pick it up.  Like that plastic bag you were gonna just vac out of there.  You’re gonna have to pick it up and put it in the trash.  See step 2.
  6. Clean glass.  Use an actual glass cleaner and an actual clean cloth to wipe down the glass in windows, mirrors, pictures, and knick-knacks.  You have to touch every bit.  Really, you do.  And if your cloth leaves lint all over the glass, you have to wipe that off, too.  Use something lintless, like a woven dishcloth.  Not the nasty one you’ve been using to wipe your boots.  A clean one.
  7. Mop.  In this process you use some kind of cleanser in hot water and a mop to go over all of the hard floors in a room.  If there are spots, you have to scrub them to get them off the floor.  The up side of mopping is that you get to keep everyone out of the room until it’s dry.  That means that you have longer before it’s messy again.

Sounds pretty complicated.  Maybe we should all just have a Scotch and relax.  Maybe we can talk the bunnies into putting on a show later.



A stroke of evil mommy genius


This morning I decided that I was not going to let us keep living in this house with it so filthy, so I cleaned …… the half bath.  First I cooked refrigerator cinnamon rolls and we all ate breakfast.  Then I cooked a couple of pounds of bacon and a pound of Italian sausage to use in later recipes.  You know, I had to work up to the whole cleaning thing.  After that I set the kids up with a movie to watch if they simply could not find anything else to do.  Then I went head-down into the half bath.  It’s 5 feet square – it can’t take very long even though it is practically a hazardous waste zone.

I put the towels in the wash and start bringing out the trash can and such so I can clean it all, and there is The Girl with her hand in the bag of M&Ms she’d sneaked out of the pantry.  Now I don’t really care that she’s eating M&Ms, but I know she’s bored instead of hungry.  Plus, I’ve just fed her breakfast an hour ago.  Plus, I’ve just told her I would make BLTs for lunch as soon as I get done in this bathroom.  I make her put them away. 

After an hour of alternating cleaning the bathroom (it was worse than I thought), I am finally at the kitchen sink doing the last clean up & washing my hands, getting ready to make those BLTs.  I hear a sound sort of like the one slot machines make as they payoff – lots of small things crashing fast through a tight space.  This sound brings a cascade of M&Ms out from under the pantry door.  Damn.  I open the door and find the bag, with one long side torn off, hanging halfway off the edge of a shelf.  There’s a nice pile of M&Ms on the next shelf down and a thin layer over everything on the floor level – multi-packs of paper towels and baskets of lunch bags and bottles of juice.  Great.  That’s gonna be fun for me to clean up. 

That’s when the stroke of evil mommy genius hits:  I’ll make her clean it up.  Not only does it mean I don’t have to clean it, but I can claim I’m teaching her a valuable lesson about how important it is to do things right in the first place.  I make her clean it up.  I make her empty everything out of the pantry and make sure every one of those M&Ms is out of that pantry.  I’m not going to leave them to attract pests, and I’m not cleaning them up.  Made her sweep it out since she had it all cleaned out.  Made her clean up and put away the broom and dustpan, too.  ‘Cause I’m mean like that.  Somewhere along the line I realize that I’m actually investing more time in getting her to clean it right than it would have taken for me to clean it myself.  On the other hand, I taught her how to clean up a mess like that, right?

Then I made the BLTs, which were delicious.  Mmmmmm.  Bacon.

Hot, hot, hot party food

Yesterday was the pool party for The Girl’s birthday.  I was going to have a quick little swim party – swimming, cake, presents, in and out in 2 hours, 3 tops.  The Hubs wanted to be sure we had enough time, so we pushed to four hours.  10AM-2PM all at the pool, you gotta feed the kids.  So, what to do outside with incredibly hot hot weather and hungry kids?  Sandwiches sounds OK, but I’m not talking about a nice warm sunny day here.  It’s almost July and we’re in the Houston ‘burbs.  We’re talking surface-of-the-sun hot. It got up to 103. That’s just damn hot no matter how much shade you have, and breezes are kind of a once-in-a-lifetime thing in these parts.

I searched for heat-tolerant sandwiches and finger foods.  Watermelon – that’s an easy one.  I might even pop it in the freezer for a couple of hours right before, as long as I can remember to take it out and bring it.  I didn’t, of course. It was still popular. Fruit chunks – pineapple and some grapes.  A veggie tray – baby carrots and celery sticks, with some roasted garlic hummus for dip.  Cake, of course.  No ice cream.  It would never make it.

The best solution, though, was the no-mayo sandwiches and rollups.  It’s pretty simple to spread some sunbutter and strawberry jam on bread.  Some cream cheese with grape jam on a tortilla.  Ham and cream cheese on tortilla.  Nutella and raspberry jam.  That’s not very interesting, though.  The caprese sandwich was good, though.  How can you go wrong with pesto, mozarella, and fresh tomatoes?  The best of the lot was the pepperoni rollup.  Cream cheese, pesto, and pepperoni on a fresh whole wheat tortilla.  Now that’s tasty. 

By the time we got into the fourth hour, though, those sandwiches were getting dry and that cheese was getting …. tired. I wish I’d figured out some ice solution, but it took three big bags of ice in a bucket to keep a couple of bottles of water and a couple of jugs of tea cool enough to drink. Maybe next year I’ll find a very small baby pool to fill with ice and put out on the table with trays of food on the ice. The great galvanized tubs we use for drinks arent’ great for food because they’re too tall and small. Can’t get a nice layer going. Maybe I should suck it up and just pack baggies with sandwiches in a cooler a-la old-school beach days. Everyone could just grab one when they’re hungry, I guess.


Adventures in pottying

squat toiletAirline toilet

The Boy had all sorts of potty adventures on his first trip to Europe.  He started off with the airplane potty.  Definitively different from the potty in his bathroom at home.  Then the train potty, which is kinda like the potty at the rodeo or the carnival – a hard box with elaborate flaps to keep the contents from being too offensive.  That was just the beginning, though.

Did you know that some places they expect you to pay to use the potty?  What kind of fool idea is this?  What if people don’t pay to use the potty?  They’ll still pee, right?  Isn’t this how you get places that smell like pee all the time?  Of course, the upside is that once you pay to use the potty you discover that it’s like a little poo poo palace in there.  Everything’s shiny and clean.  The water’s hot (unlike those stinky non-pay potties).  They have soap, paper towels, and fancy Dyson hand dryers.  The AC works almost as good as an American AC.  Almost.  There might be a mirror.  There are stalls with doors on them.  All mucho bueno.

And that fancy potty is worth something.  Toilet facilities are far from standard.  You know how some restaraunts in the US have kinda crummy restrooms?  They have no toilet paper or smell or something?  Well they ain’t got nothing on a European crummy restroom.  We went to one fancy restaraunt in Rome with no seats on the toilets.  Not as in the seat was broken off and hadn’t been replaced yet.  As in “What?  They make seats for these things?  Never heard of it.”  Of course that was nothing compared to the restaraunt in Vicenza where the potty consisted of nothing more than a ceramic circle around a hole in the floor.  Even a 5-year-old knows you aren’t allowed to pee through holes in the second-story floor.  Where is it supposed to go?  Into the kitchen?  No way, man.

And public toilets aren’t the end of the adventure.  Those hotel bathrooms seem to have two potties right next to each other.  One has no seat and no flusher.  Just a faucet and a handheld shower thingy sticking out of the top.  Come to find out you’re supposed to use the one as, you know, a toilet, and the other is a butt washer.  A butt washer.  What kind of pooping are these people doing that they need a special fixture for frequent butt washing?  Butt washer.  Crazy.

Speaking of flushers, they’re all different.  Some of them are little pedals on the floor.  Some are giant white plastic switches on the wall, several feet away.  Some are knobs you turn, like a kitchen faucet.  Some are big giant buttons on the top of the tank, like an Easy button.  One thing’s for sure, though, not a one is a little lever on the front of the tank. 

Happy flushing.  Butt washers.  SMH.

Don’t get me wrong, our kids are awesome

We just got back from a 10-day trip to Europe with our two kids.  I need a bottle of Jack Daniels. 

Don’t get me wrong, our kids are awesome.  Everywhere we went people talked about how well behaved they were and what sweet kids we have.  Really they were pretty darn awesome.  For a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old. 

Trouble is that a damn good 5 year old still gets tired of walking when you’re only halfway back to the hotel, and just doesn’t understand what the big deal is about you carrying him.  If he can walk halfway, surely you can carry him the other half.  Maybe you could bribe him, and spend twice as long looking for whatever bribe you promised as it would take to just walk back to the hotel in the first place.  By the way, there are no Hot Wheels for sale between Piazza Navonna and the Roman Forum.  Just an FYI.

And a 7-year-old just can’t wait until 9pm for dinner, even if that is when the restaraunts open.  Now it might be an awesome kid who loves adventure and has a blast looking at all the ancient stuff.  Still, at some point they need sustenance, and that point is not at 9pm, regardless of the level of excitement.  If you haven’t fed her when the inevitable bedtime arrives, you might find yourself scrounging for a tic tac stuck to the lining of your purse.

Oh, and when a 5 year old says “I gotta go potty”, you better take it seriously.  He did change his mind pretty quick when he realized that the best “pot” available was a ceramic circle around a hole in the floor.  He wasn’t even willing to pee in there, much less squat over it.  You can take your “adventure peeing” and shove it.  He’s out.  Helpful hint:  if you don’t get to the potty on time, throw those underwear away.  They aren’t worth it.

No matter what happens with your 5-year-old and your 7-year-old, take a lot of pictures.  We did get an irreplaceable one of The Boy’s expression after he drank some mineral water “with gas” and a fabulous one of The Girl doing her best movie star routine at the Trevi Fountain.  That stuff really is priceless.  Can’t wait to show the pics to their friends to embarass them.

Really, Penn State?

What the Hell are people thinking?

OK, I get that Joe Paterno’s been there forever. I get that there is a long football tradition there at Penn State. What I don’t get is how any Penn State fan can be anything but pissed off at the whole pack of monsters there. How can a Penn State fan feel anything about the whole mess besides a deep anger that these savages ruined their University’s reputation? How many parents would have pulled their kids out of that football program after this kind of scandal broke? How many parents are going to work hard to get their promising young sons into that football program now, even after the firings? How many moms are going to be proud to say their boys are heading off to summer training at Penn State in the next few years? And just how many games do you think those boys will win? Basically, the entire “football tradition” at Penn State has just been reduced to child molestation.

Now obviously Sandusky is a special kind of monster, but what kind of monster does it take to walk in on that atrocity and do nothing? Doesn’t that count as an accomplice? Sorry, McQuery, you aren’t off the hook for telling Paterno. Frankly, I think you had a moral obligation to intervene on behalf of the boy you saw Sandusky abusing, PHYSICALLY if necessary. Walking away and tattling isn’t enough. If you said you’d beat his ass and then called the boy’s parents and the cops, that might be enough. And really, Paterno? You told the AD? That’s it? He wasn’t seen pilfering sticky notes from the supply room. Talk about a disproportionate response.

The whole mess makes me sick. People who prey on children (and those who protect them) have a special place in Hell, I hope.

Yes, I Know It’s Sunday

I just can’t find it in myself to put myself and both of my little angels in appropriate clothes, go over to the church, and wrestle them for a couple of hours.  They want to see their friends.  I want to see my friends.  We actually all three love taking communion, and take it seriously.  I love the priest.  The Girl loves Sunday School.  The Boy,well, he’s The Boy, right?  Still, after the acrobatic feats of The Boy and the adventures in squirminess of The Girl last week, I’m out.  If The Hubs ever gets a Sunday off, we’ll all go back.  I just don’t have the energy to run that particular Crazy today.