I Blog. Therefore I Am.

It’s that time of year. Kids are back in school. The leaves begin to fall. The weather here in New England gets a little nippy.

And people start wondering what I am going to do with all my free time.

Exact words: What are you going to do now that the kids are back in school all day?

Exact reply: The Bon Bons are certainly not going to eat themselves, now are they? No. They are not.

Har. Har.

If I was a different kind of person, maybe one uncomfortable with her own self, I might take issue with this comment. After all, one could take it to mean something along the lines of “get off your lazy butt and get a real job.”

Hey. I blog, remember? That means I attempt to entertain the masses with some witty prose I’ve come up with ALL by myself. For free. Cause I want to. For free. Kay?

Maybe I could have reminded this person that sometime in the recent past, “they” said that us stay-at-home moms should earn about $250,000. I don’t know who the “they” are, but hey, 250 thousand clams is nothing to sneeze at. Being a stay at home mom is a pretty good gig worth that much. Isn’t that like more than our president makes? And he doesn’t even do anything.

(Sorry. Had to.)

But since I have no plans to quit — the little people who I work for really are nice and they have a lot of hugs and kisses they throw my way –I’ll continue to work for the going rate of Zero.

I won’t dare delve into the Mommy Wars. That ship has sailed. We’ve beaten a dead horse. Use whatever colloquialism you want. Why can’t we all just get along? I’m happy. You’re happy. We’re all happy, right?

Whatevs. Doesn’t even matter.

The point is, I have a blog and I can share if I wish. Sometimes I wish and have lots of stuff to write about. Other times, well, not so much.

But today I will, just in case you were waiting with bated breath to see just what it is that I am doing with all the free time I have now.

So get ready. Turn up the yawnometer and have a seat.

Yesterday I had my head in the toilet for a number of hours. I wasn’t sick or anything. No nothing like that. It was just me and a can of Bon Ami tackling really mean toilet stains that have accumulated in the three bathrooms here over the last few months. Now don’t go believing that my toilets are dirty or anything. They are clean. Ish. But I do have children who think flushing toilets must be someone else’s job. And I don’t always know that the kids have gone off and done some business.So the two johns on the second floor end up with.. Let’s just say that toilets under a sunny window are no fun. So yeah, me, a pair of rubber gloves, a can of gritty cleanser and my daughter’s Disney Princess toothbrush did the job. (Please don’t tell her I took it. It was the first one I saw.)

Activities such as dance and soccer require things like cleats, ballet skirts and three different kinds of  shoes for tap, jazz and ballet. And since I forgot to measure the feet of my children before I headed out to make purchases like these, I spent a lot of time guessing and second guessing sizes. Sure. I could have waited until they got home from school to measure, but then they’d be the ONLY ones without the proper equipment for their activities and we all know that being the ONLY one without something pretty much equals future life disaster. So I guessed. And I took a lot  of time with it so I can tell my children that I spent hours trying to get it right. A guilt card thrown their way can sometimes trump their lack of proper equipment/attire dilemma. Sometimes.

Speaking of soccer and dance. My daughter has one hour dance classes at 4:30 and 5 on the days her brother starts soccer at 5:30. His goes to 7. So since they get off the bus at 3:30, I need to make sure they eat dinner before. And this, my friends, is quite a task. Who the heck can think of dinner at 3 in the afternoon? Well certainly not me. Well at least not before. So now I panic and head to Trader Joes for prepared meals try to cook a well-balanced meal and feed them right when they get off the bus.

And this week I also donned a HAZMAT suit to tackle my 10 year old’s closet. I kid you not. Head to toe I covered myself. I did not want to take any chances. We haven’t seen the floor of the nice closet we gave that boy in six years. Six. But I came out unscathed. But there are some items that may need to go to the DEP or FEMA just to be on the safe side. Now before you ask the question “Why didn’t he do it himself?” let me tell you. We had this discussion and I threatened no computer games if it wasn’t done. So like a good little man, he marched up and did the job. Well, it wasn’t THE job, but it was A job. Let me just say the kid is really good at burying the evidence. I stared at the half clean floor knowing full well that the rest of the crap was buried beneath a sleeping bag and a body pillow on the other side, and looking at that beautiful kid, well, I just had to smile. He’s good. And somethings require a kid at school and a garbage bag.

And then, someone scheduled all of my kids’ doctor’s appointments for this week. Okay. It was me. But I don’t know what the heck I’ll be doing a year from the time we were there the last time. Anyway, my mistake I know. One that had me picking children up from school, driving many miles to see doctors and then taking the children back to school again. Sort of like a cab service.

So with all that tiresome work under my belt, I decided to finally take my good friend up on her offer to join her at Zumba. I thought shaking my booty would do me some good. And shake it I did. Zumba is hard. I rattled and shook my booty so hard that it actually fell off. Ok, not really, but my poor body feels like it did. Zumba is hard.

But I do like it. Maybe I will go back. Or maybe I will continue trying to figure out what exactly “homemakers” are supposed to do.

And of course, I will blog too. When I don’t have my head in the toilet, of course.

Because I blog. And therefore I am.

 

There Are Days…

Being a stay-at-home-mom, part-time writer, part-time blogger, house-frau and part-time everything else is a pretty cushy gig if I do say so myself.

It gives me time to be a good mom and wife to my family. It lends me the ability to sit down when I want to and write a story about some kids doing something outstanding in my community or overshare about life in the sticks as I do irregularly with this very blog.

The one area I stink at is the part-time house frau gig, I mean it. Believe me, the writing (or anything else at ALL) trumps any house chores I might have.

I am not a good housekeeper. There I said it.

I blame some of if on the fact that my vacuum sucks. Literally. It’s a sorry excuse for a household appliance. Not only does it weigh as much as a Sherman tank, but dirt rolls around on the floor never actually going up the tube part when this Kenmore comes a calling. It’s pathetic. Vacuums are so damn expensive. I’d hate to use hard-earned money on another one so soon after this one came into our lives.

And I can also blame my lack of good housecleaning skills on HCADD — household chore attention deficit disorder. I diagnosed myself and sadly I have not found a cure as of yet.I start a job — any old job around my humble abode, say cleaning toilets and then I get sidetracked. Completely.

An example, if I may.

My son has been asking about his favorite comfy jeans.

“They’re in the wash,” I explain to him, keeping the part about the fact they have been in the washing machine for three days now and I will have to re-wash them again, to myself.

I had good intentions about getting all the dirty laundry washed, but then I went on to something else. And then it was 8:30 p.m. and I didn’t feel like trudging down into that cold basement to put the clothes in the dryer. Do it in the morning, the little voice told me. And then, well I woke up late and plum forgot about the clothes. And then boom, I remember again, but now I am attempting to make a nice dinner complete with a rice pudding I wanted to try that took up way more time than the recipe said it would.

So there you have it. Wet clothes. Rewashed numerous times. Son without his favorite jeans.

In other areas of chores, I am a wee bit better.

Beds get made, only because I hate an unmade one. But lately I have been hightailing it upstairs five minutes before the kids get home from school to make them before they start asking what it is that mommy does all day.

I go from room to room making mental notes of what I need to do:  Pick up the crap still on the living room floor nearly one month after Christmas. Clean out the kitchen sink of breakfast dishes before it’s time to make dinner. Take the pile of laundry from daughter’s room to the basement and throw in the wash. After I rewash the load already in it. Dust off the wood and windowsills.

And lately I realize how dusty my house is. We took in a nice little black cat — a present for my daughter’s sixth birthday. The cat is sweet as pie and gets along with everyone very nicely. And Checkers, our 14-year-old Dalmatian has taken quite a liking to her as well. Who knew?

But “Kitty” picks up everything. She is a walking dust rag and if I wasn’t so embarrassed by just how much dust there is on her, I’d think it was funny.

So hopefully having the new cat around will help boost my house cleaning skills.

Or I can just tell people that Kitty is a black cat with tan spots that change daily depending on which part of my dirty house she’s been in.

I go through fits and starts, peaks and valleys, ups and downs when it comes to cleaning my house.

I waver between being empowered to do it myself because I am like how hard can this really be? To thinking damn, I’ll forgo tennis for a year to have someone come in here weekly and do it for me.

But then I always come back to the fact that I am a 44-year-old wife and stay-at-home mother of two living in average sized house and I should darn tooting be able to handle it.

OK. I am exaggerating about this. Just a tad. My house is respectable. Lived in if you will.

You can’t eat off the floors or anything. In fact I would recommend against that, though my kids won’t listen to me especially when it’s the last Oreo that fell on the floor. Five second rule. But ew. Yuck.

I just know I could spend A LOT more time on cleaning it if I wanted to. And there are times when I do want to.

Now is just not one of them.

In the meantime, I’ll write. A dirty house gives me fodder for my blog, so all is good right?

Erg.

Well, I am off to frost the, wait for it…. HOMEMADE CAKE I just baked for my husband’s birthday today. With real homemade buttercream frosting.

I may not be motivated by dust bunnies, as I am sure you gathered. But seriously, HOMEMADE CAKE people.

Enough said.

Happy Birthday to my very own sister as well. She lives on the left coast in LA. Sadly, she isn’t getting a homemade cake from me. She still owes me snickerdoodles from Christmas.

I think it’s neat that she and my husband share a birthday because they are way older than me.

A Little Bathroom Humor

Have you ever had that chore that, while you try to ignore it, just keeps nagging at you and getting under your skin? It hangs there waiting for you to address it. Poking at your shoulder sometimes as if to say “I’m waiting.”

Mine was my master bedroom shower. It’s the room we copied almost identically from a luxury hotel room where we stayed for a wedding in Florida a few years back.  We took that room, the room with a glass enclosed shower with the chrome fixtures that sparkled like sunshine, the brown and white marble wall and brown tumbled floor tile and the raindrop shower head, and made it our own. It was the one place during our home renovation I could not wait to get finished so I could have my own oasis.

But now it was bugging the crap out of me. Because every time I took a shower, it was there.

The greenish blue stains that had over time absorbed into my beautiful tiles. I couldn’t quite figure out what they were. I googled “green and blue bathroom stains” many times. I got many different answers. Copper. Magnesium. Hard water. But one thing I did find out that really stunk was how to get rid of them.

Because the marble was so porous and unique, more than likely, the old trusty internet sites said, I could not get rid of them without using something called a “poultice” that I would lay over the tiles for a day or so that would absorb the stains from the marble. Whatever they were. And maybe, just maybe, the stains could be removed. But it would be time-consuming and costly.

The room was not even five years old and I didn’t want to take a chance at ruining my beautiful, not to mention costly, bathroom marble I had so painstakingly picked out.

So, I just left it. And it proceeded to get worse and bug the hell out of me.

Until I decided to take a leap of faith with one of my all time favorites: baking soda.

So after I showered one recent morning, while the floor was still wet, I decided to try pouring on some baking soda and leaving it there to see what would happen. I took maybe six or nine of the 2×2 floor tiles and sprinkled baking soda on them. And left.

By the afternoon, I was too impatient and felt oddly guilty that I was probably ruining the tiles and would be in a lot of trouble when my husband got home. So I went upstairs to see if maybe, just maybe, the baking soda had miraculously turned green. It hadn’t.

Well, the floor was dry and the baking soda was still white. The green stains were still there. I hadn’t ruined anything. Yet.

So I thought why not give it a teensy little scrub with a nail brush just to see. Well, to my very happy surprise, as I started to put a little elbow grease onto the baking soda-covered tiles, the green disappeared. Just like that. A little scrub by a mild and natural abrasive and bam! Good as new.

What! I had been told by the people at the tile store NEVER EVER scrub marble. It is too abrasive and you will ruin the marble. So for years, I didn’t scrub. I used the lavender-scented castile soap and watched the green mucky muck take over. And then hang there over me while I ignored it and hoped one day the Green Bathroom Muck Fairy would just come and take her stuff back.

I am not sure really what the moral of this story is. Don’t be afraid to try something new? Listen to the little voice in your head when it says baking soda? I don’t know.

(I am sure you are all like Hello? You haven’t blogged in forever and now you are giving us baking soda?) Sorry. I just wanted to share. To document this time that I feel victorious. Even if it is only bathroom tiles.

Back Asswards

It occurred to me recently, yesterday actually, that I have a strange habit of doing things backward.

I realized that my ever-growing son had once again grown out of EVERYTHING and needed some new clothes. So in haste, I went on line to Old Navy and threw a ton of summer stuff — tees, cargo shorts, bathing suits and a few polos (and a thingy or two for myself, daughter and husband) — into my virtual shopping bag.

*I normally don’t shop online as I have said a few times before, but in the craziness of the end of the year, well it just seemed easier.

So I fooled around with adding and deleting for a little bit and hit the “purchase” button.

It was only after I’d bought all the new stuff that I took to my son’s room to actually inventory the outgrown clothing that still had residence in his over stuffed dresser drawers. In 10 minutes I had a huge pile of clothes that should have been tossed last summer. For crying out loud.

Like I said, a little back asswards if you ask me.

If I step back and look at my habits, which I did this morning, I find I do this same turned around thing in other areas of my life.

Say grocery shopping for instance. I make a list of what I think I need, do a big shop, carry the reusable bags from my driveway across my lawn to my house, place them on the counter and then realize that I have no room to put them away.

Yes, this is not me.

The reason — because I have not cleaned out the thousands of red and blue Tupperware containers with old food begging to be liberated from the bowels of my refrigerator.

So I take on this massive chore whilst my new food sits on my counter. And it spirals out of control into more chores including filling the garbage can,taking it out to the garage, hand washing every single tomato sauce-stained container, leaving it on the counter to dry and finally getting that brand new now room temperature food put away.

Phew. You’d think one time doing this ridiculous ritual would have this mom trying to get better organized. Yeah. You’d think.

When it comes to household chores, sadly I tend to be the same away.

After lugging my vacuum up the stairs, I turn it on and start cleaning before I have picked up all the crap that sits on the rug. Socks, legos, stuffed animals, countless items my daughter has moved from room to room that are now on her floor. So I stop, turn off the vacuum, clean up what it is in my path, and then resume where I left off only to face the same obstacle in my son’s room as well as our’s. If I am lucky, I won’t suck up a random sock like I did last time and spend MORE time trying to maneuver the thing out of the vacuum.

Gardening. (or lack there of really.) I go to the garden center and buy a boat load of annuals to adorn my patio.(It’s a brick patio wall that is partially hollow so I plant something new each spring.) So again, me lugging the flats from the car to the patio all ready to start planting only to realize that I have not cleaned out the debris, leaves and dead plants and subsequent pine tree garbage that has fallen during recent windy days that still resides in the dirt from last year’s planting exercise.

So instead of me happily planting, it’s me unhappily doing prep work while my poor flowers are waiting for their new home around my patio. It’s then hours before I get planting and then, more than likely, I won’t get it all done in one day because of all the time wasted cleaning up what should have been done weeks ago.

Argh.

There must be some name for this kind of thing. Backasswardsitis? Domestic Disorganization Syndrome?

I think the only cure for it is this: Have someone else do it.

I am all over that.

But until that pipe dream comes true, like say when pigs fly or hell freezes over, I guess I’ll just have to persevere through it and keep on doing what I do best — back asswards.

Spring Cleaning

With the warmer weather coming and the seasonal changeover, Spring just begs as a time for cleaning. And while my intentions are always good at this time of year — I will clean out those closets, remove cobwebs and let the sunshine in! — sometimes I get sidetracked and spring cleaning ends up being more a closer to summer chore.

During Spring Break, since we didn’t have much in the way of plans for the week, it would have been a good time as any to get the mess out. But I didn’t.

However, this morning while cleaning myself in the shower, I was thinking about the mountainous chore ahead of me. It’s a bit overwhelming. There are so many bags of clothes in my daughter’s closet to go through. I need my son to try on his spring clothes too and once we start throwing things out, well then there is room to clean.

And that got me thinking about ways to clean. Normally I use conventional cleaners, but I have been known to dabble in the homemade ones as well. There are many tried and true natural cleaners sitting around here waiting to be used and thinking about them will help me procrastinate having to do my own daunting chores.

So, in an effort to not do what I have to, let me share some cleaners, remedies and just plain fun stuff so I don’t  have to go clean.

White vinegar and baking soda. Yes, folks, it’s not just for science fair volcanoes! This bubbling concoction works wonders in my kitchen sink drain. Sprinkle a bit of the baking soda, pour in a cup or so of vinegar and watch the magic. After the bubbling show, wash it all down with some boiling water and a sparkling clean drain awaits you. I do the same for plastic garbage bins and recycling bins as well. Alka Seltzer tablets work similarly if you drop one in your toilet. They are supposed to get all the muck under the water. And while that works, I still have to clean the rest of the bowl with something else. But, I had one lying around and I tried it.

Lemons. What can you not do with lemons? I used to sniff them when I was suffering from morning sickness and would instantly feel better. Just having them around makes me cheery. But they also work wonders as a natural bleaching agent.
(Did Jan Brady NOT try to bleach her freckles away with this?) There is truth to it. My dark hair changed to copper with some extra lemon juice applied at the beach when I was a teen unhappy with my own brunetteness. Not something I recommend, unless you are going for the copper penny look. Anyway, add some lemon juice to your whites in the laundry. They will be fresher and brighter. There is a reason there are so many lemony smelling cleaners out there. But aside from the scent, lemons are synonymous with clean in my book.

Crest Toothpaste. I just recently unearthed a pair of tarnished silver candle sticks we got for our wedding. I wasn’t sure if they were sterling, but my mom once told me that something in Crest acts like a silver polishing agent. And sure enough, after applying a coating of Crest to these Pottery Barn candle sticks, I wiped it off and found gleaming and very shiny silver underneath the tarnish. Plus they smelled minty fresh. I could smile at my dinner guests and say “It’s not my breath, it’s my candle sticks.” Good stuff.

Liquid Castile Soap. Now, if you are not a soap maker per se, you may not know from Castile Soap. I am not such a crafty one, but my sister is, and she told me about it. And someone else had recommended it to clean marble surfaces and glass. So I went and bought a lavender scented bottle of it to clean my cultured marble vanity and I love it.
Not only does it deep clean and not leave a residue on the marble, but the lavender scent serves as aromatherapy while I clean. So I am actually happy to clean. OK, not really, but it is a calming and lovely scent none the less so maybe I do not feel like I am doing said chore. Lavender is one I my favorites. It comes in other scents, too or you could a little drop of aromatherapy scent you like. Just make sure the scent is one that will not cause damage. I think you are not supposed to use lemons on marble. Castile soap cleans up the soap scum from my glass shower door. This chore I do while I am cleaning myself. It’s not everyday you can clean your shower with a natural product you could use on yourself.

Apple Cider Vinegar. My mother-in-law once gave me a book filled with hundreds of ways apple cider vinegar worked around the house and while I enjoyed the book, my all time favorite has nothing to do with household cleaning. Mix a tablespoon of this with some baking soda and put it on your hair and you can kiss summer chlorine and salt residue goodbye. I tried this last summer because my hair was dull from so much lake, pool and beach and afterward, well let me just say my own stylist was amazed at my hair. Maybe because I am brunette, but the vinegar made my hair so shiny like I just used a salon gloss.

Speaking of hair again, I remember a long time ago when I was in elementary school, a new girl came to town. She had long blonde hair and one day, she came to school with her hair a greasy mess. Not just greasy hair, I mean something was actually in it greasing it up. Everyone asked what she had done and she answered : mayonnaise. Wha? Well, this girl, her name was Penny, was obviously beyond her years in hair knowledge. The next day she came to school, her hair was beautiful, silky and bouncy and shiny. Not bad for a 6th grader. Now I would not go so far as to promote using mayo on your head, but I do think it had to be the vinegar and soybean oil in Hellman’s that did it. Just sayin’.

So more vinegar stuff. I have also used a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water to gargle a sore throat away. It does work if you catch it as soon as your throat starts to tickle.

Another trick with this is to make your own bug repellent by using apple cider vinegar, witch hazel and citronella essential oil and putting it into a spray bottle.

Baking soda. I have scrubbed away hard water and magnesium stains from my porcelain sinks by just using a damp sponge and baking soda. I also use this one to clean and freshen my stainless steel sink. It does leave a residue on that, so rinsing well is recommended.

So, with these and many more ways to clean my house, hair and even my throat, I suppose I should stop procrastinating and get to it.

Any secret family remedies or solutions you want to share? Have at it! They would be appreciated!

Happy Spring Cleaning.