CLEAN: a look at what exactly defines clean and tidy.


I was thinking about what is considered “clean” this weekend, while attempting to tidy up a bit before having friends over for dinner. “Clean” seems to vary depending on who is doing the cleaning and what the occasion is.

Cleaning the stove for me means wiping off all the gunk and maybe pulling out the fancy stove top cleaner gunk made by elves in the Forest of Naboo. For my husband it means pulling out a razor blade and some elbow grease. For my children? hahahahahahahahahahahahha

Vacuuming to my seven year old means picking up all the cheerios on the floor and making a halfhearted pass of the kitchen with our stick vac. To me, it usually means cleaning the edges of every room where most of the dirt migrates and moving the dogs crate to make sure all the hair gets picked up. To my husband, I vacuum like a girl and “should get out the actual vacuum and stop bending over with the hand vac to clean the house.”

And if company is coming over? The rules all change – toilets get scrubbed, towels get washed early and I suddenly notice a million dirty nooks and crannies that hadn’t been visible before. And if it’s someone like a mother in law or that friend whose house never looks as dirty as ours ever? See the graphic above and maybe buy a second bottle.

What does clean mean to you?

Love Thursday: The Things We Keep

Yesterday I took away all of my son’s toys. All of them. At some point during the course of the day I hit the point of no return – watching the way he abused his belongings had irked me one too many times; putting his toys away for him either because he wouldn’t or because he wouldn’t do it right… I may be asking too much of a three year old but the thing that really bothered me happened after I took them away. He didn’t care. Guys, I’m serious – I took ALL his toys away and he didn’t even whimper. He seemed to think it was funny. And apart from asking for one stuffed animal before nap time, he never asked me for a single toy. And the rest of our day was pleasant. Awesome even. What the frig?

When my husband came home and saw the empty toy room he was a bit astonished. “Do I even need to ask how your day was?” I believe was his response. When I told him that after I’d taken the toys away it had been a great day and that his son didn’t even seem to miss all the great stuff I’d put away… He was a bit surprised, too. I’ve often thought that MM has too many toys – sometimes it’s hard to really appreciate something when you have it in mass quantities. But whenever we’ve tried to weed through his things and donate stuff, we never get very far because it’s all great stuff, you know? Where do you draw the line? Last night we played hard ball. Sort of. We went through all his toys and got rid of well over half of it. Except, by got rid of, I really mean we put it in our storage closet downstairs. And looking around his toy room there is still a ton of stuff, but the difference is still huge. Instead of having several dozen stuffed animals on his bed, he now has six. And those are the only stuffed animals in his possession, there aren’t any in the toy room. So what’s left in his toy room now you ask? Let me show you…

We left all his train accessories and of course the terrific table my dad made for him.

Likewise with his awesome tool bench – an old Christmas present from his auntie – honestly the big toys are the least of our problems and this one is in constant use.

This used to also house all his little stuffed animals, which are now in storage. He loves to dress up in funny hats and put his worldly possessions in fun bags. Now these things are front and center in the Dress Up Bucket and the stuffed animals which used to mostly just get dumped on the floor when he wanted a fun hat… yeah those are gone.

Dan and I are huge nerds and we wouldn’t have the heart to get rid of great educational toys. The puzzles, abacus and the wooden “foods” all stay. These are also favorites of the boy’s so I know they’ll be used frequently. Hopefully now they’ll be used MORE in fact.

These are in addition to a bunch of little matchbox cars that live with his train set. Like any boy, MM loves “things that go” – we kept most of his trucks and cars out (though not all of them).

Of course the great Mega Bloks have to stay and the blue bucket has a couple toys we deemed worth keeping…

We used to have two buckets filled to the brim with small toys, some things in multiple, like he needs that many. This is probably the part I’m proudest of. I feel a little silly having such an empty forlorn looking bucket, but then I remember Christmas is always just around the corner…

There was no chance of us getting rid of the great pull out couch, his “baby sister” doll and blanket. Likewise with books and the things above the bookshelf. NO books were gotten rid of – because well his parents are book fiends.

Like we’d probably be shot if they went missing. His prized possessions to be sure.

The bottom line for me, and the part that makes this a Love Thursday is that I want my son to LOVE the things he has and in turn, take marginally good care of them. When we moved we got rid of so much of our own clutter (maybe not enough, but a LOT) and our main method for selection was, “Do we HONESTLY love this thing?” We were brutal but it was worth it. It was liberating. And MM has been happy as a clam today, playing with the toys which remained – not even a second thought seemingly going to things which are gone. At some point we may donate a bunch of the stuff downstairs – and if he asks for it and we are feeling nice we may bring some things back up. But honestly, I think he still has plenty and it’s all stuff we all love.

Love Thursday is the brain child of Chookooloonks. Check out her post today for more thoughts on love, and the comments section for other people playing along.

Simple Woman’s Daybook: May 4th

Outside My Window: It’s been nice and cool and cloudy. The heat wave seems to be over and I’m content as I can still get by with my summer-ish wardrobe and maybe a light sweater. We’ve had a bit of rain but nothing remarkable.

I am hearing: Curious George on tv – we’re headed to my grandma’s for dinner soon but MM insists he finishes watching his show before his diaper change, after which we will leave.

I am thinking: Too many things at once – my brain is still pretty muddled with all the same things, trying to plan the upcoming weeks but pretty much completely unable to.

I am hoping:
that Dream Company gets back to Dan soon! So far nothing, although we did hear from his old boss that they contacted him for a reference this past Friday, so we know they are still doing something and hopefully we hear soon. Not that I’m getting impatient or anything. 😛

From The Kitchen
Monday: dinner at my grandmas
Tuesday: Spaghetti with mozzarella stuffed meatballs – yum!
Wednesday: Hot Dogs & Mac ‘n’ Cheese
Thursday: Hamburger Night
Friday: Chicken something or other

This menu is staring to look awfully repetitive but the price has been working well for us, so it will do for now. I look forward to being able to expand our menus even just a little bit…

I’m now reading: Lioness Rampant, the last book in the Alanna series by Tamora Pierce. I started reading Influence a couple of nights ago, only to realize it was absolutely nothing like what I thought it would be – you know, a memoir. It’s actually a coffee table book style collection of interviews with 20 famous-ish people who have “influenced” the Olsen twins. I really didn’t care for it at all and had no interest in the 20 people they interviewed so I abandoned it. I hope they do a real memoir someday, although I guess I’d expect that kind of book to come much later in their lives, which is fine.

I am creating: Nothing at the moment – I did take some pictures for my review of the Amazon Kindle 2 and shot the video for this week’s In My Opinion video meme (click the link for this week’s questions if you want to play along), so that’s sort of creative… I guess.

Around the house: We’ve been cleaning up clutter mostly, it’s been nice to see a lot of old junk go but we have a lot more left to do!

One of my favorite things: We’ve been teaching MM to spell a bit. Still very early on in the process but it’s been really cute. We got a book from Frecklebox (to review for Mommas Review) that has his name splashed all over it and we’ve been loving using that to help him learn to spell his name and dude it works and he loves it!

A few plans for the rest of the week: That totally depends on when Dream Company gets back to us and what they say. If it’s a yes, we’ll be calling moving companies and packing, etc. If it’s a no, hubby has a couple companies lined up to apply to via recommendations from some friends. Oh and tv of course, because you know I run my life by the tv schedule.

A Picture Thought: Here’s a cute picture of MM eating dinner with one of his new favorite bedtime / all the time stuffed animals – a little stuffed Westie that follows him everywhere, even to the breakfast table apparently. Picture captured by daddy.

Monday Morning: Oh The Laziness Of Me

Welcome to the August 18th edition of Monday Morning by the formidable Karen of Write From Karen. You can expect to learn the fascinating secret revelations to such scintillating topics as: procrastination and me, a match made in heaven? ; just how clean is clean jen’s home ; unbelievable mad lib fun ; and just how late can a tired wife sleep? I know inquiring minds want to know, so let’s get to it!

August 18th Questions:

1. You have a huge final project that is due in six weeks. When will you actually begin it? In other words, are you the sort of person who gets things done right away, or do you wait until the last minute? Why is this?

I will start it like that night, but then get all cocky about my abilities and somehow blow it off until at least a week before it’s due, then scramble and embark in lots of late nights or one VERY late night and them grumble and mutter to myself a lot. But I’ll still do it remarkably well, cause I rock. Why? Because I thrive on deadlines and unknown levels of stress.

2. How often do you clean your house? (Be honest!) Do you think you’re a good housekeeper? Does your significant other think you’re a good housekeeper? Does your significant other ever thank you for cleaning house? No one likes to clean, but what is the one thing you don’t mind cleaning?

I do varying levels of cleaning on varying levels of time. On a daily basis I do the basics- dishes, picking up toys, organizing random things. Once a week I do laundry. Once in a blue moon I vacuum, mop or do a big overhaul of some kind. Anything I haven’t mentioned, I hope my husband is doing or that it doesn’t matter much. I’m a terrible housekeeper in most eyes I’d imagine, but we do fine. I think everything at least LOOKS clean… My husband never really complains so I must be doing okay. One chore I don’t mind doing – the laundry really as long as my son isn’t hanging by my ankles while I do it.

3. Fill in the blank: I can’t believe you all haven’t commented about the Shoop by Salt’n’Peppa video that I posted on my blog recently! Now tell us the story behind this sentence (WHY did you fill it in the way you did?)

Um because the video was awesome and everyone should think so! (total cop out, I had NOTHING clever to say for this one!)

4. Be honest, how many times do you hit the snooze button? What time do you get up during week days? What time do you typically get up on the weekends? Are you a good sleeper? If so, why? If not, why not?

(as stated on twitter this morning) i don’t use an alarm clock – just an annoying persistent husband. i’m up between 6:30-7:30 usually depending on the day…

Oh yeah, if you want to participate in the Monday Morning meme, don’t forget to link up over at Write From Karen.

The Anti-Robbers – They’re Out There

So, you know in the movies when a house has been robbed, the owners or cops enter the home and find furniture flipped over, drawers pulled out – basically, chaos everywhere? Well this morning I woke up, and for a moment, thought our apartment had been robbed – but that the robbers, feeling their job had been done for them, decided to anti-rob us instead.

They cleaned the kitchen. They organized my desk, creating file folders for each different type of bill / form that needed a home. They dusted – yes, dusted. I know. You know my bedroom, and how horribly embarassing it is to behold? No more. It looks like people with like pride or standards or something sleep in there – who does that? The bathroom – they cleaned my bathroom, people! It’s quite a sight to behold. This morning our living room was spotless, but of course MM and SB made quick work of recovering it to it’s former glory, so maybe you wouldn’t know about the wonders that took place last night if you entered our home now, but the tell tale signs are still here, if you look closely.

The dishwasher was emptied and has begun to be re-filled – even the dish drainer has been emptied for like the first time ever and now holds only the morning coffee mugs and a sippy cup. The countertops were scrubbed. The bathroom sink was de-slimed. The dust bunnies hiding behind the toilet? Gone. I’ll miss those bunnies, they were so… dusty…

Who would do such a thing, I ask you? It just baffles the imagination that someone would take my wonderfully sloppy apartment which took months and months to get to that level of sloppiness thankyouverymuch and CLEAN it. It just seems wrong somehow – like I want my life back, whoeveryouare.

Oh wait a minute – I just remembered – that was us. We cleaned it. Nevermind – you can put down the phone, no need to call 911, sorry for the false alarm everyone – but I do appreciate your concern in this matter – it was emotionally traumatic for us all.

Tackle it Tuesday: De-Cluttering the Chaos

So I don’t think I’ve ever done a Tackle it Tuesday for the simple reason that I sadly don’t seem to tackle very much – at least not much worth blogging about. But there has been this little issue that has been driving me a little insane for oh say 2 years now. My son, love him though I do, has too many toys. I know there are a lot of kids out there with more toys than him, but for us, it’s too much. Namely because he just plain doesn’t treat them with respect – he’s not content to actually play with the toys, but would rather have a toy throwing bonanza of wisking several toys into the air, so they fall like confetti around him – at least, that’s what you’d imagine from the look of our apartment. It drives me insane. And I keep saying, “One of these days, I’m going to get rid of HALF these toys,” but I always manage to fall short of that goal, and simply tried to find new ways to organize the junk – I mean toys. But the problem is, I can organize till I’m blue in the face, it won’t make him stop making messes – he’ll take them out of whatever container I put them, no matter how cute the container is (maybe especially if it’s cute). It was time to buck up and make a cut.

I gathered all of his toys into the living room while he was napping on Sunday and started making piles – first, simply of what went with what so that any toy had all it’s pieces, regardless of where it was going next. Then I talked with my husband, through the pile, about each toy – who had given it to us, how many other toys were like it (I started organizing the pile into categories here), and how he treated the toy – was it a favorite or just something to throw into the wall? Some toys were harder to decide with than others – maybe it was a toy, I personally picked out just for him – but for various reasons it had not caught on. Maybe his grandmother had picked it out just for him, but it wasn’t a great fit. And so on… we showed no mercy until all of his toys fit neatly in two baskets, which we’ll rotate whenever he seems bored with the current collection. Even with both baskts emptied onto the floor of our living room, it looked immensely better. He still had lots of toys, but they were the GOOD ones. Some we are keeping for when he’s older, some for when we have another baby.

Bags Filled with Toys for Friends
Bags Filled with Toys for MM's Friends - what lucky kids!

The biggest thing we cut, were the little toys – all the little toys with little pieces that didn’t do much other than take up space, despite their small size. The box of clutter we got rid of was not big, but when the contents were spilled on the floor it was massive – like spilling a drink, the contents could cover a lot of ground. We also put some good toys that were just not a good fit for MM into three bags for some of his friends, who might appreciate them more than he did.

After the Storm (getting rid of old toys typhoon)
After the Storm (you know, the getting rid of old toys and clutter typhoon).

My living room is a mess, still, but somehow this mess is one I’m willing to live with – it’s toys he loves, and toys that  don’t look like a cluttered disgusting mess so much as an assortment of his favorite things, left in the middle of a very fun morning of playtime. And you can see from the look on MM’s face that he isn’t very torn up over the loss of those other toys, which didn’t make the cut…

Did you do something recently that you’re hella proud of? Something truly Tackle it Tuesday worthy? Write about it in your blog and then link up with other Tuesday Tackler’s at 5 Minutes for Mom.