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It’s the Little Things

2 Feb

Whine: Had an unfortunate “streaking” experience today at church. Meaning that Big Sis took herself to the restroom (All! By! Herself!) and when she needed assistance, came running out of the restroom and across the foyer (did I mention that the “foyer” is a big open space covered with glass windows that face directly into the parking lot?) with her pants closer to her knees than to her bottom. Luckily almost everyone had cleared out before the “full moon” appeared.

Cheese: Didn’t you read the last paragraph? She went to the restroom all by herself, well, almost. I’ll take that (with or without the full moon) any day of the week.

I am a housewife. A stay-at-home-mom. A domestic engineer, if you will. Yet since I began this career over four years ago, I have had a chronically cluttered house. More days than not I’ve lived with the fear that my laundry pile may actually get taller than me, grow arms and legs and suffocate me in my sleep (although the arms and legs would not be necessary, as the smell of sweaty socks is usually sufficient for suffocation.) Attempts to make dinner often forced me to trek across my sticky kitchen floor that could double as flypaper only to arrive at a fridge whose distant regions were best left alone. And my dishes. Usually piled in the sink, sometimes rinsed off, growing until my choice was to load the dishwasher (which was only eighteen inches away) or call in a Hazmat team.

Oh, I somehow managed to restore order every so often, so that when invited guests arrived, I at least looked like someone who believed Louie Pasteur’s germ theory. But spontaneous visits by friends often elicited many apologies and a strong “enter at your own risk” warning.

The stress of having to hide my laundry in the guest room and hope that noone ever looked too deeply into my fridge drove me crazy. I always wanted to be like my clean friends, what with their clean laundry and empty sinks, but I’m just not one of “those people.” I’ve tried a million times to “get my act together” and to no avail. I run out of steam after just a few days of trying to be something I’m not (i.e., perfect).

And then over Christmas, I had a conversation with one of “those people.” You know, the friend who always remembers your birthday, always sends a thank-you note within days of receiving a gift, and generally doesn’t eat soup straight from the can for lunch. Luckily I’ve known and loved this friend since high school (i.e., the time of braces, bangs and marching band), so I know she likes me even though we’re, well, different. In the course of our conversation that night she made a passing remark about how she runs her dishwasher every night before she goes to bed.

The conversation quickly moved on to other more interesting topics, but a little light went on in my brain. She runs her dishwasher every night? What if it’s not full? How can she run it if she knows that she could probably jam two more sippy cups in there if she was creative? I do not understand.

But I went home that night and decided that I would make January “clean dishes” month. I didn’t make a New Year’s Resolution, because mine usually involve overhauling every aspect of my life so that I can be Supergirl’s better looking older sister.  I just decided to try this new idea every day in January. I even made a chart, so I could check off the days. Because checking things off makes me happy. And if, after the month was over I had succeeded in my new venture, I would give myself a reward.

Which is embarrassing. I’m thirty-two years old and I needed a reward to wash my dishes.

But you know what? It worked. Instead of getting ready to make dinner, then, being rebuffed by the stack of dirty dishes and ordering out, I could walk into my kitchen and actually make dinner. And what I walked away from this month knowing is that most of the time, it’s the little things that count.

A little remark made in conversation. A little more effort toward running my dishwashwer regularly. Little things that have changed a lot of bigger things. Now the whole house stays cleaner because I’m not overwhelmingly paralyzed by the menacing glares from the row of stinky sippy cups. Now we eat out a lot less because I can find my frying pan clean and in its rightful place instead of as a storage receptacle for old bacon grease. Now we enjoy being at home because sitting in the living room doesn’t seem to involve rearranging large piles of stuff to make a space. Isn’t that interesting?

But if I had resolved to keep the whole house clean in January (or heaven forbid, for the year), the first time I fell off the wagon, which would have been almost immediately, I would have chucked the whole idea and given up. So instead of trying to be perfect, I decided to do what I can.

Little things. They really add up. I have a lot more to say about this topic, but in the spirit of little things, I’m going to stop here and pick up where I left off another day.

Big Time

3 Jan

Whine: I had a dream that I went to my OB appointment and had gained 10 pounds in a month. Based on the fact that all my pants are currently cutting off the circulation in my belly, I’d say that either my dryer likes playing cruel jokes or I’m a psychic.

Cheese: I’m starting out 2010 with a clean junk drawer. Which, by it’s very name suggests that having it cleaned out is a significant accomplishment. Based on that, and the fact that I took a 2-hour nap today, I think 2010 is shaping up to be a pretty good one.

New Year’s Day, 2010, I  awoke to a head butt. Followed quickly by the feeling of having a snotty little nose wiped on my pajama shirt.  Before I could counter, a pair of tiny little lips were blowing a gigantic, slobbery raspberry (or zerbert) on my exposed belly. You know, there are worse ways to start a new year.

Speaking of good starts, I’m sitting on my living room couch and there is not even a hint of Christmas left in this room, (unless you count all the sugar cookies and eggnogg I’m wearing around my middle). The decorations are packed and stowed. The oodles and oodles of new toys have somehow found hiding places. I’ve even mostly slept off three weeks of constant activity and sleep deprivation.

I mention all this not to make you wish to stab me with an ice pick, because that is my general reaction to people who are done with Christmas before February. No, I mention it because as far as my mommy memory can tell, it has never happened to me before. And, based on the fact that my personality has a lovely procrastination/overcomitting/sitting-around blend and I’m about to have another kid, it will probably never happen again. So I would like to mark this momentous occasion with a moment of silence. Or computer solitare. Or a giant rootbeer float. Or feet up on the couch watching Return of the King. Who am I kidding? I did all three tonight. (By the way, do you think when they cast the role of Aragorn(the king) they were specifically looking for someone who looks really good with greasy hair and a stubbly beard? Cause boy, they found their man, didn’t they?)

I like this feeling of not living in total chaos all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be a little bored without some chaos. Why do you think I keep having kids? But total chaos 24/7 wears on even a hype-junkie like me. So I’ve thought of a few new habits I’d like to try out for Janurary: like battling the dirty dishes on a daily basis instead of letting them set up their own colony in the sink; remembering to feed myself a breakfast not comprised entirely of Little Debbie snacks before I leave the house; doing laundry when the basket is full instead of when I have to choose to run to the store to buy more clean underwear or wash some clothes.

We will call these things “healthy life habits.” We will NOT call them resolutions. Because we all know that the quickest way to not do something, is to make it your New Year’s Resolution, right? In light of that fact, I do have a few New Year’s Resolutions to make. In 2010 I resolve to gain lots and lots of weight. To not sleep through the night at all. And to be a mean and crabby person. See? Now I’ve guaranteed that I will be skinny, well-rested and kind at least in 2010. I’m glad that’s taken care of, especially with that new baby coming and all.

So now I’m feeling pretty big time, you know. Doing things (er, I mean planning to do things) that most other people do without needing a round of applause (or rootbeers). But I can’t help it. I’ve got a lot going for me. Mostly that, after taking almost two years to completely potty train one child, the other one seems both (gasp) ready and (gasp, gasp) interested. I’m not claiming she’ll be potty trained in one day (it’s already been a week) or even a month, but at this point, anything’s better than two years.

And for Christmas, I received the sweetest present from Mr. Dad. He went out and found a tiny little sterling silver whine wine bottle for my charm bracelet. And not because I get tipsy every night. He tried really hard to find a tiny little cheese charm to go with it, but was unsuccessful. Isn’t that sweet? He not only tolerates my blogging habit and all it entails, he actually reads my posts and is sweet enough to make me feel like a real, live writer by buying little wine bottle charms for me, cause that’s what makes you a real writer, right?

And finally, I feel really, really BIG TIME because I now have my own website.  It looks exactly the same but can now be found at www.alittlewhineandcheese.com. So bookmark it, highlight it, frame it,  forward it, throw it a party.  We are official now!! I’ve got some “healthy blogging habits” I’d like to put in place (NOT resolutions), but we’ll talk about that next week. . . (I told you I was a procrastinator.)

I’d like to leave you with a picture of one more of my big time accomplishments from this week. A birthday cake for my niece who really likes Snow White (and by “my niece” I actually mean “her mommy”).

Snow White's Chocolate-Coated Cottage