In the kitchen

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

cleaning out

You may remember that my two grand intentions when my children both went to school full time were to:

1. Clean out my house.
2. Write a book.

So far I feel I am spending way too much time running errands, doing laundry, doing regular maintenance cleaning (and struggling to resume the big clean-out cleaning), managing our family's change in insurance, organizing our finances and catching up on medical and dental appointments.  I've also been working (which I love), making time for yoga (which I love even more) and volunteering at both my kids' school.  And sometimes I even sit with a cup of coffee and peruse youtube to learn new ways to braid Ella's and my hair.   

Yes, you heard me right.  Feel free to report me to the unproductively police.  

My first attempt at the ladder braid.  I have a lot of room for improvement.
To be honest, I have written not one single word on my book.  But the house cleaning project had really been coming along until Christmas hit.  The holidays set me back a month since stuff was moving in the non-desired direction (into my house rather than out of my house) but since the kids got back in school my motivation has returned full force. 

When my friend Martha died 4 years ago, she left me all of her kitchen related possessions- all form of cookery, cutlery, ice cream makers, food processors, mandolin cutter, pasta maker and all other manner of kitchen gadget and appliance.  She also left me NINE boxes of cookbooks.  I lovingly made space for them on the shelves in our guest room closet. Since then that closet has become akin to a black hole; once things go in they are rarely, if ever, found.  No cookbook that was ever wanted could be found.  A major overhaul was needed.

If you have young children and your house is anything like mine, you may realize that if the influx of stuff (which is nothing short of a steady avalanche) isn't balanced with periodic and a nearly surgical removal of stuff, you will find yourself unable, in far more moments that you will want to confess, to ascertain if you actually have something you need and even more unlikely to be able to put your hands on it. 

My big goal in the clean-out was to sort through the kids things (projects, papers, artwork) I want to save and to "filter" out the rest.  I have set my aim to clean every drawer, closet and storage space so that I would know what I have in my house and where it is.  This isn't about perfectionism but about a true need for a reduction of clutter and an establishment of order in my surroundings.

In short, I am pretending we are moving but we aren't.

Back to the cookbooks....Martha was a huge supporter of our local library. I contacted the director and asked if she had use for them and she did!  I sorted through and kept all the cookbooks I thought I would use and donated SEVEN boxes to the library (thrown in were some other assorted books from our shelves).  The sheer freedom I felt far outweighed the sense of disloyalty I had in getting rid of them.

Anyone undertaking a major house clean knows that one of the other major obstacles to success is spending too much time doing everyday cleaning and having no hours left in the day for the big projects.  I realized I am picking up after my kids WAY too much.  

I saw this idea on Facebook and thought: why the hell not?  So I made one for myself.

The kids think this is so fun.  Maya goes and picks out chores just to do them.  Hey, whatever works.

If stuff stays in there more than 2 days, it "disappears." I am taking no prisoners in my war against the  stuff.

Today I filled a trash bag with old files from a file cabinet I hadn't used in 3 years.  Chucked it all.  My rule is if I haven't used it in a year,  I need to give away or toss it.  Being someone who works well under pressure I have come to realize that it will be biking season by the end of March and if I really want to do the whole house I need to keep making steady progress.  For me this means 5--10 hours a week to the cause.   I will fight cabin fever with cleaning, yes I will. 

And a huge reward to all my cleaning:  I have found so many pictures of myself several evolutions ago when there was so much more of me in every regard.  I found paperwork from a doctor's appointment 12 years ago where I noted my weight was 30 full pounds more than I weigh now.  The pictures show the same. I hardly recognize myself. 

Sitting there in the mountain of discarded files, photos and paperwork, I was overcome with gratitude to live in the skin I live in now.  I am grateful to have finally found a peaceful place with food and my body and smiled at the thought that showering myself with goodness and love is now my norm and self-judgement and negativity are no longer part of my daily soundtrack. 

My rule with the purge is the standard one: If I haven't used it in the past year, get rid of it.  To which I added:  If seeing it makes me sigh and throw my hands up in frustration of what I'm meant to do with it, get rid of it. 

In unrelated news, we got to have Noah and his parents at our house and the kids made a kickin' music video.  (Recognize the wigs from our Whoville costumes?)  I am quite partial to kids making rock videos.  Sorry there is no link so  you can see it. I was not permitted by the featured talent. 
Blurry photo but you get the idea...
Also we are puppy sitting for Jax, Trish and Brock's 6 month old puppy.  It is a very bipolar experience where I find myself thinking: there is NO WAY we can ever get a puppy to oh, she's so good...maybe if the kids would just learn not to fight we could swing this.  But then they fight over feeding her, fight over who gets to take her out or that neither of them want to take her out, fight over giving her a treat or even which one plays with her.

In other words, they fight all the time.  (A second post to follow about this.)

Plus there is the steady supply of dog hair.  It is like someone is stealthily moving around my house pulling fine black hairs out of pouch and throwing it like confetti on the sly.

There are some cute things in all the conflict.  One thing that isn't cute is that she chewed our baseboard like a beaver.

As far as puppy's go, she is the bomb.  I'm just not sure my nerves can take a puppy full time.  I like that our kids get to "have" Tia and Uncle Brock's puppy who usually lives just up the street.

I have to say, though, she can be great company.  That is when I am not coming unglued on the front 
lawn at 4:30 in the morning begging and pleading with her to just pee already.

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