Sunday, August 19, 2012


With Ruby's birth, I leveled up to a whole new playing field of chaos. I thought I knew exhaustion; I was a fool.

Right away, I figured out I'd have to get these kids on a routine, so I started with Holden. Almost overnight he accepted his routine and has been a much more pleasant little man ever since. Ruby's getting there. Most nights, she'll sleep from 10-ish until 6:30-ish. I am very pleased. And sane from all that sleep I'm getting.

Meanwhile, there are a few things I'm doing pretty regularly. Smoothies. Showers. Washing diapers. Drinking chocolate milk. Overall, I'm thinking I need to solidify some routines for myself. I want to get in shape so I can play soccer next season. I want to eat better so I have enough energy to chase these two. I want to make delicious lunches and snacks for my beautiful children, and I want my family to eat dinner together. I want to keep my house clean so I'm not mortified when I think of strangers meeting my pet fruit flies.

Starting next week, I'll be trying it out:

  • I'll get out of bed by 6 AM. Burgundy has to leave for school by 6:30 in just one more week, so this is necessary in the long run anyway.
  • I'll make breakfast and lunch all at once (assuming Ruby does not rise with me), including smoothies for myself, Mark and Burgundy; lunch for Mark; lunch and post-school/pre-band foods for Burgundy, and finger foods for Holden and I for lunch. Lunches might not be the most healthful; if I have to whip up a batch of Krap Macaroni and Cheese, so be it. I will pat myself on the back for Getting Stuff Done.
  • I'll clean the kitchen.
  • Once Holden is playing and Ruby's been fed, I'll run through my standby daily chores:
    • Make the beds
    • Spend two minutes on a crap-magnet
    • Run a load of laundry
    • Wipe down the nastiest bathroom surface
    • Start a load of diapers (work on it throughout the day)
    • Work on my dailies as time allows:
      • Monday: 30-minute blitz-clean
      • Tuesday: Dusting
      • Wednesday: 15-minute trash-toss and 15-minute declutter
      • Thursday: Lead homeschool English class
      • Friday: Pick up outside (20-30 minutes MAX)
      • Saturday: Clear out the car
Now look. There's no way I'll do all of these things every day. I have a toddler, an infant, and a teen. But I want to have a sense of where I should be and of some kind of plan to keep our home sane.

Meanwhile, my got-done list for this weekend:

  1. Cleaned the kitchen (with a little [a lotta] help from Mark)
  2. Took Burgundy birthday present shopping and to a party about 15 miles from here
  3. Bought myself a dress and a few shirts that do not make me look like a rabid "I Love Lucy" horror/fantasy clown (more on that another day, maybe tomorrow)
  4. Cleaned out the freezer (this was over 2 years later than needed)
  5. Washed, pitted and froze over a gallon of cherries for smoothies
  6. Washed and froze about a gallon of grapes
  7. Went grocery shopping
  8. Started a batch of yogurt for smoothies
  9. Cleaned up and reassembled the double stroller we got for !FREE!
  10. Responded to a fellow who might be looking for a room to rent

Saturday, August 11, 2012


I feel a little blue today. I had a haircut this morning, and I look much less shaggy now. I almost bought a tube of makeup. Well, tint-releasing moisturizer. Anyway, I was saved by the outrageous price tag: $21. Good grief. It isn't even real makeup. Just a tube of moisturizer.

Here's the thing: I don't wear make up. I haven't worn it with any kind of regularity in years. Recently, I decided to start using moisturizer just because my face has been feeling tight after washing. And I thought, "Hey, if I'm going to take the 30 seconds to rub something on my face anyway, I might as well even out the tone."  Apparently not. Twenty-one dollars? Really? Thank God I'm a cheapskate. That was a close one.

Many women choose to spend 30 to 45 minutes every morning carefully applying makeup, coiffing their tresses, ironing their blouses and putting themselves together. And it shows. They look great, have their own unique style, and they command a kind of automatic respect I really admire. Believe me, I want to be thought beautiful. I want my husband to think I'm pretty and to pursue me.

Here's the thing: I have very little free time. In that free time, I have a number of fascinating options: I can bake, knit, roll around on the dog-hair-carpeted floor with Holden, snuggle Ruby, or talk smack about music and art with Burgundy. I can write here. While I value appearance, I just don't value it as much as I do my knitting. Or homemade chocolate cake. Or the way Holden dances in place with glee when I stop what I'm doing, drop into a crouch, and say, "I'm. Gonna. GET. YOU."

Please understand that I'm not slamming women who do value their appearance in that way. Thirty minutes a day is not so much time that they won't know their kids or ever make a batch of cookies. I just don't value it myself. Not when I consider the progress I can make on a sweater in 30 minutes (not much).

Anyway, I feel a little blue today. I want Burgundy to come home; I want my house to be clean, and I want my husband to notice me in a way that I'm not really willing to put in the effort to make happen. And that's okay, I think.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Half-Baked Housework

I posted about this a couple of years ago, but I need reminding every now and then.

Half-done housework that covers everything works better than perfectly thorough housework done in one tiny spot.

My mama raised me right. We did not live in a barn, pigsty, pasture, et cetera; we were civilized people. As such, dishes always must be washed, dried (completely), and put away. The floors should be swept, mopped (including corners), vacuumed (move the furniture) and scrubbed (toothbrush and bleach on the grout; that stuff is gross). We must clean in the proper order. Vacuum first, then dust, because the vacuum kicks up more dust, and the furniture must shine all the time.

In the dressers, all shirts must be folded uniformly and stacked carefully in their rightful drawers. We have separate drawers for long sleeves, short sleeves, sweaters, t-shirts, shorts, pants, pajamas, underwear; if not for the limited number of drawers, I could divide and subdivide infinitely like some deranged maestro of the fractal wardrobe.

Yes, I'm a perfectionist.

A few years ago, I had something of an epiphany: I don't have to be a perfect perfectionist. If I redefine "perfect," I can do this without running myself ragged or guilting myself into craziness.

Yesterday when I swept and mopped the kitchen floor, here's what it looked like: I swept the crap on the floor into a pile and leaned the broom against the wall. I wasn't sure where I'd left the dustpan, so I switched gears and did the dishes. When I'd washed everything and set it out to air dry, I rinsed and wrung out my rag and threw it on the floor. Then I paced around the kitchen with my toe on the rag and scrubbed up any spots I could see while standing.

I assure you, my floor is still dirty. The clean dishes didn't get put away until much later. But the floor looks clean, and I had a clean sink for washing fruits and vegetables or rinsing future dishes for the dishwasher.

The idea is along the lines of my Got-Done list: I will do what I can and set aside my idea of what I "should" be able to do. Honestly, I have to give myself a break, because few other people in the world are going to do that for me.

Got Done List

Well, blogging did not make my got-done list yesterday. I promise, blogspot, I thought about you all day. I thought of all the things we would say together, the photos I would post and how proud you'd be that I MADE MY BED. Oh well. It's the thought that counts, right?

Yesteray's got-done list is at the bottom. I want - nay, need - to post the list, but I won't expect the world to read it or even give a rip. I will say that part of yesterday's productivity was due to the presence of my saintly mother-in-law, who comes over at least once a week to help with the kids while I run errands, clean house or whatever else needs to be done.

The hardest part of this got-done-list thing so far is not starting a to-do list while compiling the got-done list. It defeats the purpose, though, to use it as a springboard for examining everything yet to be done. Self-control, I will exercise you! The most important things will float to the top; I have no doubt of this.

Under the list for yesterday, I'm posting today's list because I can; I'll update it throughout the day. And I'll post another blog today about my attitude toward housecleaning. And I'm out.

Yesterday's Got-Done List:
  1. Put fresh sheets on bed
  2. Picked up Margie
  3. Went to 6-week post-partum midwife visit
  4. Had lunch with an old friend (our friendship is old; my friend is not)
  5. Washed, dried, folded and put away a load of diapers
  6. Washed, dried, folded and put away a load of baby clothes
  7. Washed, dried, and hung to dry the cover and straps for Holden's car seat after he smeared them with spinach-pear goop and tried to rinse them with milk
  8. Cleaned Holden's room
    1. Put away the useless baby bed parts
    2. Made the bed
    3. Rearranged the furniture a little
    4. Put away clean clothes
    5. Moved the rocking chair and ottoman
  9. Started cleaning my room
    1. Picked up and sorted dirty laundry
    2. Rearranged furniture a little
    3. Picked up trash and emptied the can
  10. Cleaned the living room
    1. Picked up Holden's toys
    2. Picked up and put in the garage a bunch of cords and crap that Mark moved from one room to another
    3. Vacuumed the rug and the rest of the floor
    4. Spent some time clearing off the "crap-magnet": a knockoff Queen Anne-style side table
  11. Swept the kitchen floor
  12. "Mopped" the kitchen floor and parts of the living room floor
  13. Washed dishes
Today's Got-Done List:
  1. Made my bed
  2. Put together Holden's car seat
  3. Folded and put away a load of clean diapers
  4. Dried and folded a load of towels
  5. Made scrambled eggs for breakfast and forced Holden to eat them because I am a cruel, sadistic mother
  6. Made myself a mocha (saved $4.38 from Starbucks)
  7. Made peanut butter toast for Holden and I for lunch and chased it with leftover sauteed greens
  8. Made Holden's bed and straightened up his room
  9. Started a load of white clothes in the washer
  10. Laid Holden down for a nap (which he certainly is not doing right now)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What have you done today?

I have Attention Deficit Disorder. I don't mean that I simply get distracted easily. I mean that I can not listen to the radio and clean at the same time. I can not fold laundry and watch a TV show. I can't make dinner and have a conversation.

Most people in my shoes have coping mechanisms, and my mom taught me a big one; everybody does it: I make lists. I have a list of laundry loads; a list of large projects; a list of small projects; a list of vegetables and fruits I want to grow; a list of all my yarn, projects, and needles; a list of all the yarn, projects and needles I want; a list of things the kids need, things I want, things I want to do.

With all these lists, I feel pretty defeated most of the time. I will never get to do ALL THE THINGS. I will never have the laundry, dishes, dinner and housework all done at the same time, and I honestly start to beat myself up a little bit about it! Now I have a six-week-old baby, a nineteen-month-old baby, a sixteen-year-old baby, and a husband. Where am I supposed to find time and energy to be superwoman AND do yoga daily?

This morning I was chuckling to myself about that thing that we list-o-philes all do: when we complete a task not on the to-do list, we add it to the to-do list just for the sheer joy of crossing it off. And it occurred to me: Why don't I make that my list-habit instead?

I think this is the best idea I've had in at least 72 hours. I hope that by keeping a list of everything I've done instead of everything I wish I could do, I'll actually feel a lot better. I work my tail off; I should feel accomplished at the end of the day, not defeated and hopeless! So here goes. So far today, I have:

  1. Fed Ruby, changed her diaper
  2. Made my own dang mocha - no Starbucks! That's $4.38 of my husband's hard work I did not waste today
  3. Taken my daughter to the airport and gotten her through check-in for an internship IN ANOTHER STATE OHMYGODNOMYCHILDCANNOTBETHISOLD
  4. Fed Ruby, changed her diaper
  5. Cleaned stuff out of the van
  6. Changed Holden's diaper
  7. Made scrambled eggs and French toast for breakfast for Holden and I
  8. Fed Ruby
  9. Changed both babies' diapers
  10. Killed several dozen zombies on my cell phone
  11. Fed Ruby
  12. Changed diapers, but did not re-diaper Holden fast enough
  13. Cleaned pee and poop off the floor 
  14. Fed Ruby
  15. Washed, hulled, quartered and froze a pound of strawberries
  16. Made myself a fruit, spinach and yogurt smoothie
  17. Made orange juice
  18. Folded a clean load of diapers
  19. Run a load of diapers through 2 of 3 cycles
  20. Gathered dirty diapers from throughout the house for another load of diapers
  21. Washed out the blender pitcher and started cleaning breakfast dishes
  22. Wrote two journal entries (as of 2:00 PM)
  23. Brought the dog in BEFORE it started raining
  24. Fed Ruby
  25. Cleaned up Holden and Mark's bed in the nursery
  26. Folded a load of blankets
  27. Started the third cycle on the 2nd load of diapers
  28. Put away the diapers I folded earlier (updated at 2:50 PM)
  29. Fed Ruby
  30. Set up bed in Holden's room
  31. Put diapers in the dryer
There, I feel better already.

Busy Mama

I recently wrote a course description for a home school writing class I hope to teach this fall. In the description, I indicated that students must keep a journal for class, and then I pointed them to this one, explaining that I will keep a journal for class, too.

Therefore, here I am again. I've been super crafty this year. I made about half a sweater, two baby layettes, two knitted Llama Llama dolls, a couple of lined, zippered pouches, a ridiculous amount of bread and another baby.

Ruby Catriona was born six weeks ago on June 28 at home after only two hours of labor. I still cramp up thinking about it. One of my blog entries will be her birth story.

Burgundy has been kicking [profanity redacted] and taking names. I took her to the airport this morning to fly to Arkansas for an internship at the University of Arkansas with Dr. Christian Goering. She and Dr. Goering will be working on his website, LitTunes, after she interviewed him for her project last semester teaching 8th grade English Literature using pop music and videos.

She's starting her Senior year this month. I can barely wrap my head around that. She had one set of Senior Portraits done this summer, and she's planning another set later in the fall. Of course, she and her current beau are planning prom already; they'll no doubt be delighted to learn that wither they goest, there also shall I be. Fun! I haven't been to a Senior Prom in 20 years. I'ma git all gussied up.

We've spent the summer working on three college entrance essays. All three are pretty generic: someone who influenced your life, an issue you care deeply about, and something you'd like to tell the world. She has done a great job on all three, writing about the teacher she mentored with in the spring; her views on modesty, and her father. When she returns from her internship Sunday, we'll pull up the national common application for colleges nationwide and start that work.

Holden started walking in February at 14 months old. He loves to run and dance, and he has so much of his father's attitude and spirit that I can't help but reevaluate what I think of Mark. Today he got in trouble for hitting me when he couldn't get my attention. I scolded him, and he squinted his eyes up and tried to stare me down with this hilarious toddler-rage side-eye look. When I burst into giggles, he burst into tears. Oops. That pride gets in the way early!

I have one more post brewing in my head, so I'm going to stop this one and start it. I suddenly have so much to say!