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Very often when I’m cleaning,
Excavation is the goal.
Resurfacing the counters
That disappeared so long ago.
In what seems like seconds,
Crap sprouts like frickin’ weeds.
All our junk in giant piles,
Like chronic skin disease.

Note:  This is not what I consider a “giant pile.”  This is almost cleared off, thank you very much.

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Scaling Mt. Clothesmore

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O! Mountain of cleansed things!
How you mock me from the basket,
and the floor, and other there,
and on my bed.

You are a pestilence before whom I fold,
a scourge without scale.
I weep and bow down, helplessly watching
the Clean But Unfolded ossify
into skeletons in my laundry room.

Note: Early on, I fooled my husband into thinking I was a folder. I used to go to the laundromat, and I folded it all before I brought it home. As soon as we were able to have a washer and dryer, this never happened again. Fortunately, folded laundry was not my sole appeal.

Also Note: Ahhhh! I missed midnight! As a piece of advice, it’s a terrible idea to go to a car lot at 6:30 PM and start the car buying process. This would seem like common sense, but I am an uncommon person. *yawn*

My Fancy Color Didn’t Work Out

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Never ask a creative
What color you should paint.
The answer will always be
Some color that it ain’t.

You should ask a farm kid.
They’ll say, “Get the leftover stain.”
They’ll get a roller and use it up
And the rail looks nice again.

I’m working on getting that second-story deck rail finished, a year after I started it. I could blame it on the rain, but you’d probably cry fake–mostly the problem is that it’s way more work to “frame my vista in a buttery vanilla color” than it would have been to “slap some stain on the fence that keeps the kids from falling off the deck.” Regrets, I have them. I also have an ugly half-finished deck rail. Not what I had imagined.

Everyone Will Have Reservations at Your Holiday Party

Sometimes I like to be topical and trendy.  Right now, it seems like everyone is talking about holiday this, party that, oh, I’m gonna make these cheese balls with quinoa all over them and not eat them because I’m lactose intolerant, but you go ahead.  Since I don’t really have “parties,” because that would involve a lot of “people,” I thought it might be fun to help you plan your party.  

 I spent some time thinking about a theme, because no one wants to have the same party as everyone else, right?  I spent some time focusing on the word “hospitality.”  I laid down in the middle of my floor and chanted that word for an hour using the voice of my ancestors.  The long line of introverts behind me declined to help.  “Hospitality,” I whispered.  Inspiration struck.  Hotels!  A hotel themed party would be the very essence of hospitality.  Looking around my suburban home, however, I couldn’t make it work.  I just didn’t have enough rooms to give everyone their own room and still call it a party.  Plus, some people might not be entirely charmed by spending their evening in the bathroom or the basement crawlspace.  If you have a 40 room mansion, this might not be a problem you have, but you wouldn’t be talking to me either, so whatever.

 How could I get more people in a small space?  I still wanted the hospitality feeling, but I needed efficiency.  I scrunched my knees up, covering my ears so I could think, and lightning struck!  I could take my inspiration from the airlines!  Read on to see how you could throw your own party just like a major airline. 

Invitations

First, you have to invite all your friends to the party, of course.  You’ll want to make sure you set your groundwork here.  Make a list of all your friends.  Then, divide up the list between your Best Friends and your Other Friends.  For maximum efficiency, I suggest something like the example below. 

Be sure to check the appropriate box before sending to prevent confusion.

Be sure to check the appropriate box before sending to prevent confusion.

Handling RSVPs

When your friends RSVP, you’ll want to make sure you exchange some important information.  Absolutely confirm if they are bringing a date or any other baggage.  This is the perfect time to let them know they need to arrive at least two hours early. 

Greeting Your Guests

Your guests should start arriving long before the actual party is to start.  Have them form an orderly line outside the front door.  You will want to put the Best Friends closest to the house to ensure they get inside before anyone else.  This is a good time to make sure no one has brought an unexpected guest.  If anyone in line is not covered by a confirmed RSVP, inform them they are on Party Standby.  If there is any room after all confirmed guests have entered the party, these unexpected guests can enter on a first-come/first-served basis. 

Walk down the line and observe what people are carrying.  Anyone with a hostess gift should be pulled out of line and searched for other contraband.  Since most people don’t have metal detectors at home, you’ll have to improvise here.  If you’re curious about what your coworker has in that stupid designer purse, or you want to see if Bill from high school is still carrying joints in his pocket, make a high-pitched whining noise as you “wand” them and insist they dump out their purse or pockets.

 

Weeeoooooweeeeooooweeeoooo. Sorry, I'm going to have to search that.

Weeeoooooweeeeooooweeeoooo. Sorry, I’m going to have to search that.

No matter how clear you are on the invitation, there are always latecomers.  At the time the party is scheduled to start, lock the door and don’t let anyone else in.  That’s the price of being a Rude Roscoe, my friend, see you next year.

 Party Down

The key to a party that everyone enjoys?  The atmosphere and the refreshments!  First, you’ll want to make sure everyone’s comfortable.  Because we’re trying to get as many guests in as efficiently as possible, I’ve done a model layout for you.   

You may want to have a special area with larger squares for your Best Friends.

You may want to have a special area with larger squares for your Best Friends.

 The refreshments are another area requiring careful planning.  It’s important to have enough for everyone, but not necessarily the same things for everyone.  I suggest creating multiple areas for drinks and food.  Find your Best Friends and quietly suggest that they might want to check out the refreshments on the linen tablecloth, behind the curtain. 

Please enjoy all this, my Best Friend, and let me know when you need a refill

Please enjoy all this, my Best Friend, and let me know when you need a refill.

Holler “Grub’s on!” loudly to the Other Friends and gesture to the folding card table where you’ve set up the cheap stuff.

One per guest, please, if I have extras you may ask for another

One per guest, please, if I have extras you may ask for another.

Entertainment

Let’s face it, people are not coming to your party for the entertainment.  Go to a Redbox, close your eyes, and point to the display of movies at random.  Rent this movie.  Play it with the sound completely off in your living room.  If someone cares about what Vin Diesel is saying, they can stand very close to the screen and read his lips.

 Winding Down

If you’re following along, you should be having a really adequate party at this point.  People will be awkwardly mingling with the person in the assigned seat next to them.  Your Best Friends will be drunk and joining the Mistletoe Club elsewhere in the house.  It’s important to end the party with the same tasteful efficiency as you began it.  Put on a pair of blue nitrile gloves and carry a small wastebasket liner to each party guest.  Grab their cups out of their hands and throw them away regardless of contents.  Once you’ve done this, announce to everyone that the party is over, thank them for coming, and wish them an enjoyable holiday season at their own homes. 

 Important Last Note

Once you’ve signaled that party is over, make it clear that everyone is to leave as quickly as possible by standing at the open front door with a basket of party favors.  Hand one to each guest as they leave, counting as they depart.  It wouldn’t do to have a party guest stranded in your house overnight!

 This may sound like a lot of work for a couple of hours of party time.  While I’m sure you’re sold on the money-saving refreshment tiers, you might wonder if it’s worth going the extra mile for your guests.  Yes.  You have to stop focusing on the journey, and look toward the destination.  You’ll avoid the “same old holiday party” trap.  People will be talking about your party for years to come.  Bonne fête! 

Thanks for choosing our party. Please come again.

Thank you for choosing our party. Please come again.

No, I Don’t Eat Sushi

A lot of people I know eat sushi, and I can’t really capture the essence of why. They’re not all doing it to look cool, because I know some of them care about cool as much as I care about One Direction. They are not restricted to sushi because of some allergy to everything else. Many of them claim to “enjoy” it. I think they maybe just haven’t really gone to the trouble of understanding what is motivating their food. No, I didn’t leave off “choices.” What does your food want? Specifically, how does the food feel about YOU?

Deep down, on a literally visceral level, I believe all meat and seafood is trying to kill me. This is not some kind of granola theory about “toxins” or some medically based cholesterol or whatnot issue. I think meat is just waiting for its chance to get you. If you don’t handle it like a bomb counting down to zero on your countertop, BOOM! Cross-contamination!! I mean—it’s not even 100% dead until it’s cooked, people. There is still some tiny vestigial spark of life in there, and it hates you. Meat will poison you faster than a Weird Sister and to hell with iambic pentameter.

Seafood is the absolute worst. It remembers the freedom of the ocean, and it wants to get back into the sea as quickly as possible. If it hurts you a little on the way out…all the better. Given the high level of bad feeling toward you, it seems pretty irresponsible to eat it raw. One of the most common food poisoning bugs is salmonella. It’s not a mistake that it says “salmon” right in there. The salmon can hate you so much that you get sick from some lettuce.

Because I believe meat is harboring a grudge, I allegedly overcook it¹. I am not overcooking it. I am cooking the revenge out of it. A piece of meat that has been heated through to the recommended temperature is not only properly dead at that point, but it will not come back as a zombie chop or tilapia walker. It has been neutralized. There is plenty of barbeque sauce at Costco to rehydrate your meat, so I’d really rather not hear any complaints about my nice, safe chicken.

Oh, and before you accuse me of knocking something I haven’t tried, I have eaten sushi. In fact, I ate sushi in Japan. Sort of. It was on a Japanese airline, anyway, which is the same thing. No, it didn’t make me sick, but it didn’t make me happy, either. Since I can assert my womanhood with just the wasabi, thank you very much, I’ll continue putting it in my cocktail sauce and mashed potatoes. If you “like” sushi, all the more for you. Don’t ever forget, though, that your harmless indulgence is seasoned with the collective vengeance of millions of tuna. Tuna never forget.

 

[1] Citation: My husband, who thinks those temperature recommendations from the USDA are just suggestions, not THE ONLY WAY TO KEEP HIM SAFE.

If You Give a Mom a Dustrag

This is in no way inspired by my actual table which is only 4 years old.

This is in no way inspired by my actual table which is only 4 years old.

If you give a Mom a dustrag, she’s going to want to clean the windows.
When she cleans the windows, the sun is going to shine on the table.
Mom will see that the table needs a good going over.
She might get carried away, and decide to clean the whole table.
When she’s under the table, she’s going to see the stickers you put there.
While she’s peeling off the stickers, she’s going to notice that the finish on the table is a little worn.
She’ll want to refinish the table, so she’ll need to go to the store.
While Mom is at the store, she’ll buy a refinishing kit, a gallon of milk, something for dinner, and some cookies.
When Mom gets home, she’s going to refinish the table. The table will look so good, Mom will want to redecorate the whole house!
Dad will say no.
By this time, you will be hungry. You will whine to Mom that you need a snack.
Mom will give you a cookie and some milk.
If Mom gives you some milk and a cookie, you will sit at the newly refinished table to eat it.  Chances are…you will spill your milk all over the &^*% place, and Mom will need to find her dustrag.

 

(My hat-tip is to Laura Numeroff for such a signature rhythm.  If you have little people, the “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” series books are very cute and good at bedtime.  Pretty sure Felicia Bond will not be contacting me to illustrate.)

Mommy Is Relaxing … Her Standards

Burning question of the day: Why wasn’t my house always spotless before I had kids? Seriously, there was, in hindsight, no legitimate reason why it couldn’t have been clean all the time. I guess I was just really lazy. And happy. I was lazy, and happy, and I played video games and worked a lot.  Now, when I talk about what I’ve been doing all day, or better yet, what I got DONE, I find that I’m … fudging it a little? What I say…doesn’t seem to mean what I used to think it meant.

“I cleaned the floor.”
Used to mean: I picked up every single thing and vacuumed and mopped the entire house.
Now: I picked up most of the things, and kicked the others around the carpet so I could vacuum. Then I squinted my eyes to simulate an older person who doesn’t see well, and paper towel spot-cleaned anything on the laminate that was glowing green or creating texture.

This is where they live, because they are mine and I clean the floor.  Put yours away.

This is where they live, because they are mine and I clean the floor. Put yours away.

“I cooked dinner.”
Used to mean: I spent at least 45 minutes cooking some spicy, complicated creation from scratch, using every pan and spoon I owned.
Now: We are eating anything besides take and bake pizza.

So, 45 minutes to make the meal, and an hour to wash every dish in the kitchen? *does math, frowns*

So, 45 minutes to make the meal, and an hour to wash every dish in the kitchen? *does math, frowns*

“I did laundry.”
Used to mean: I spent all day Sunday washing and drying all the things, so that I could spend my time watching X-Files, folding the laundry, and putting it away during commercial breaks. Voila! All the clothes clean for Monday morning.
Now: I washed and dried some clothes, many of which are small and annoying to fold. They are sitting on the bed RIGHT NOW. If I can sneak off after dinner, I will fold a few of them, then the rest will get smashed into the giant pile of wrinkles in our bedroom. Sorry, dear.
“I cleaned the bathroom.”
Used to mean: The bathroom was ready for a picnic. You could eat off any surface you desired. Everything was sanitized, shiny, and the end of the toilet paper was folded into a little triangle just to make you feel fancy on the john.
Now: Visible signs of the small people have been hurriedly scrubbed off with a disinfecting wipe, and a flushable brush has been swished around the toilet to remove whatever it will remove. Notice I didn’t mention the tub. That’s what shower curtains are for. If you look, it is your problem—why are you looking in my shower? Weirdo.

Pin This!  Effort-free growth chart for the little ones!  Smear their hands with a different color of sidewalk chalk for each year.

Pin This! Effort-free growth chart for the little ones! Smear their hands with a different color of sidewalk chalk for each year.

“I’m ready to go.”
Used to mean: I’m ready to go, except I need one more thing that I forgot. There, now I’m ready.
Now: I might be ready to go in about 15 minutes, after I get the other 17 things the children *need* to be happy, find the other shoe, tie them into the carseats and then run upstairs and “fix” my hair. That is conditional. If anyone needs to use the potty, flips out over a sibling saying the wrong thing, or comes down with a flash virus, all guarantees, implied or otherwise, are forever cancelled.
“I did the dishes.”
Used to mean: Who are we kidding? I never kept up with the damn dishes. It pretty much means the same exact thing now as it always did: We’re expecting company.