Cleaning the bathroom: a primer for the uninitiated

This past week, as you may remember, my kids unwillingly took on the task of trying to clean the house room-by-room before Friday. They were not excited by the list I produced on butcher paper and hung prominently in the kitchen. After all, it’s summer, and for some reason our kids think that means long, lazy days of doing nothing more than what the wind drifts them to do. Since we seem to have been doing that as far as housecleaning goes since my first herniated disk almost a year ago, I knew that enough was enough and some spring cleaning was more than overdue. We’d been keeping things manageable, but it was time for some extra TLC in just about every room, with some getting a good ole fashioned deep cleaning. While some rooms can skate along with just a wipe up or a quick once-over, the hall bathroom is not one of them. In fact, the hall bathroom–the bathroom that all the kids use except for Hannah–is perhaps one of the most high maintenance spaces in our entire house.

Under normal circumstances, the boys are in charge of cleaning this windowless room. It is scheduled to be cleaned once a week, even though it easily could be power washed daily. If you have boys, you know what I’m talking about. In fact, just last week I laughed (and cried) my way through a blog post by Alpha Mom that had gone viral confirming what I had been trying to hide…or at least cover up in my own home. In a post entitled “23 Tips for Maintaining Your Sanity While Raising Children,” she offers wise advice for focusing on the important parts of life with littles and letting the rest go. To read this hilarious and witty post, click here. Without a doubt, the tip I honed in on and related to almost more than any other was this:

9. If you have boys, your bathroom will always faintly stink like pee. Invest in some Febreeze and count down the days until they move out and you can go visit them and pee on their bathroom floor.

I can totally relate. Oh, that bathroom. It ranges from the faint stink of pee to the rankness equal only to the neglected outhouses of yesteryear. It runs the gamut between fairly presentable to downright embarrassing. As in, if someone comes to visit, I would rather them use the grass behind our garage before they set foot in that bathroom if it is just before the scheduled cleaning day….or any time after twenty minutes past the time it was cleaned.

Every so often, then, it makes me feel better if I tackle the cleaning in that room. Sure, the plan is to train the boys to eventually have the same standard of clean that I do, but so far we’re still quite divergent in our definitions. Some days, it seems that their “clean” definition is “running a semi-wet optionally clean rag over most surfaces at rapid speed with the hope but not necessarily guaranteed results of removing any ick or uck.” In the early days, I created a poster that walked them through the step by step process of properly cleaning the space.


We have found varying success with this list, and I’m thinking of adding a “Proper Bathroom Behavior” poster next to it. I wonder how long it would take to find it spattered with toothpaste.

In any case, it was my turn to take on the space, especially since it did not have the faint smell of pee, but the overwhelming wall of pee smell to it. Every so often, we gotta work to knock it back down to faint smell status. I delegated other jobs from the massive list to each child with the hopes of directing them away from the bathroom and leaving me in the peace of the job before me. With my handy dandy microfiber cloth in one hand and spray cleaner with bleach in the other, I was ready for whatever I would find in there. For those of you cringing at the thought of me using something as harsh as bleach in my bathroom, let me set your mind at ease: it was only because we didn’t have something radioactive on hand. Fight fire with fire, I say.

While spraying and scrubbing and wiping all by myself, I had some time to reflect upon life as seen through the eyes of a bathroom cleaner, and I thought I would share.

1. I believe we are grossly ignoring a free and extremely potent potential weapon of mass destruction in day-old-or-more urine. Why are we not conquering nations or freeing oppressed people with this stuff? It is capable of bringing anyone with an olfactory bulb quickly and wholly to his or her knees. (from what I’ve heard.) If we could somehow harness the evil power of pee for good, we could do great things.

2. Even with all of our scientific advances, it is still not a good idea to mix ammonia and bleach. I really do not recommend trying this foolishness in a room without windows. If you’re looking for that “the room is spinning” sort of experience, I suggest riding a roller coaster or falling in love. Just saying.

2.7 Unlike Nevada and the catchy phrase we all know: “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” what happens when little people use the facilities behind closed doors is soon on display for anyone with a nose once the door opens. How can we be so distracted in the middle of a relatively quick and easy process? However mind-boggling this is to me, I do not ever wish to follow them in to figure it out. It will have to remain one of the mysteries of the universe.

3. Don’t automatically assume that it’s only your boys who contribute to the carnage under the toilet seat and around the commode. A while back, while running bathwater for Chloe, she hopped up on the toilet. The problem was, with her short legs she literally only hopped up and didn’t scoot her bum back at all. What resulted was a sprinkling all over the toilet…and under the toilet…and near the toilet…. I was both amazed and horrified. All my previous preconceived notions trickled away like the liquid I just witnessed. In the midst of my shock, we had a little “talk” about how the design of the toilet works best when the waste products actually make it into the bowl. Near is simply not good enough.

4. According to my scientific studies, it is unclear at this time as to whether pee or cleaner (or a toxic combination of both) can strip the paint off of quarter round, but in that dark and scary back corner of our bathroom, the trim no longer has paint on it. That surely adds a finished look to the overall 1974 theme of our mint green bathroom with cream (and natural wood) trim. At least that’s what I’m shooting for. AT LEAST SOMEONE IS SHOOTING WITH PURPOSE IN THAT ROOM!

5. The saddest part about cleaning a bathroom in a house of eight people is that at best, the odds of said room staying clean for any length of time are roughly 45,936,495 to 1. Roughly. Odds are better that any one of the eight will have a potty emergency within five minutes of me turning off the light and spraying the air freshener one last time. It’s a quiet realization that the job of bathroom cleaning is not only a thankless but constantly recurring one. Unless we have a museum bathroom that nobody uses….pardon me, I took a laughing break to think of my mint green tiled bath with the Angry Birds shower curtain making it in a museum!….it will be like it will be. It will either smell like pee with the harsh overtones of bleach and Glade Fresh Linen, or will it be full on just urine. What a happy realization.

Honestly, I’ve started to resign myself to just buying time until I can go visit my boys and pee on their floor.

I wouldn’t really ever do that…. Would I???


Forty has arrived!


After all the avoiding and thinking that I could just “skip it,” my fortieth birthday arrived yesterday, right on schedule. Funny how time just keeps marching on, right? Actually, my first gift arrived the night before when a fast and furious storm blew into Lexington with little warning. Todd and Patrick had just left the house on their way to church and were in the van when the wind whipped up so hard and so fast that it broke a huge limb from the top of our tree and caused it to crash onto the driveway. It happened in an instant, it seemed, and on the driveway where we normally park one of our two vans. As it turned out, Todd’s van and trailer had been parked in the street and my van was in the grass. The fallen limb shattered the smaller branches around it in a rather large mess.





Thank you, Mayhem, for coming to our home! We were incredibly thankful that the boys were not involved. The next morning, however, they were involved in the cleanup effort.






Another strange delivery arrived on our front lawn later that night between storms. Everyone except Hannah was at the church for musical practice or set construction, and I received a strange text from her about halfway through. “Are you expecting anyone, Mom? Some guy I don’t recognize is putting letters in the front yard!” Since she has not the life experience of pranks or other such activities surrounding milestone birthdays, so she had no idea what was happening before her eyes! When we arrived home, we saw a birthday greeting that spanned almost the entire length of our front lawn, complete with a flock of pink flamingos. Who on earth could have arranged that for me?



The kids were immediately tickled by the flamingos in particular and planned which ones they would claim (not understanding that the flock would quickly move on…).





What an awesome way to mark the day! Whoever had organized this did a fantastic job. I had a few suspicions as to who could be responsible, but ended up being totally surprised later in the day to find out that it was actually my family in Michigan who had set it up! Sneaky folks, they are! It was fabulous.


On the morning of my birthday, I shared a special treat with my coffee drinking buddy, Todd, that I had been saving since last December. I bought several pounds of my favorite Starbucks flavor, Christmas Blend, and tucked one away for a birthday treat. It did not disappoint.




The day had more surprises and delights in store. Thanks to Facebook, my phone’s alerts went off all day. For someone whose love language is ‘words of encouragement,’ that was a real blessing.





My parents, who had planned a weekend trip with everyone in Cincinnati before Mom’s fall, had to move on to plan B and sent a box full of various thoughtful gifts to mark the day.



It must have hurt my dad a whole lot to buy me a UK cup. I really appreciate his sacrifice!!




Earlier in the week, I had received an unmarked package which turned out to be a shirt from my cousin in Arizona. My older cousin who had turned 40 four years ago. The shirt, I thought, had been passed down from cousin to cousin to wear as they turned that magical number. How fun! What I learned on the day of my birthday, however, was that in reality, the shirt had originated thirty-four years before when my dad turned 40. As the oldest member of his family, the tradition was started with him and had been passed down to each of his sisters and then the cousins. Suddenly the “fun” shirt transformed into a much more meaningful tradition! We took pictures and then carefully took it off. I’m not sure, but I think it may have historical protection status. I treated it accordingly, just to be safe.



While Todd was trying to get a picture of me (such a hard job for someone like me; pictures of myself are difficult to approve…this is probably the only blog post with so many of me, me, me…ugh), Andrew snapped perhaps the best candid picture of the day.


It’s fun to be forty! Sort of.

A mysterious stranger sent me a text around 6pm instructing me to look out on the van. Thankfully, no tree branches had crashed on top of it. Instead, there was a large balloon and deliciously decorated chocolate covered strawberries!


I love the little body coming out of the bottom of the balloon. ūüôā


I wouldn’t find until much later–when a card was delivered to the house–that these treats were made by our dear friends the Hagans.

Todd took me out to dinner, but while we were there, his family all stopped by in an instance of bad timing for both of us. Not waiting to leave feeling they hadn’t done what they came to do, they recorded themselves singing happy birthday to me and sent it via text. I was so sorry to miss their visit (but the dinner out with Todd was lovely).

Ralph and Laura and their kids brought yet another of my favorite treats–key lime pie. It was waiting for me in the fridge when we returned home.


And another balloon to remind me of just how old I had become…


We ended the day looking through old pictures and shared a piece of birthday cake (my favorite: Boston Cr√®me Pie)…except for Brendan, who preferred to have some mint chocolate chip ice cream.


All in all, it was a very, very good day. I have been blessed beyond measure in the years I have been given so far, and pray that however many I have left will be just as full of family, friends, and fulfillment. Thank you to everyone who sent a message (or a FLOCK OF FLAMINGOS!!) or a treat. You made my day extremely special!

Lessons we can learn from trash collection day

In my short tenure as a mom, I have learned that the best lessons do not come from my flowery or long-winded lectures, but instead from natural consequences.¬† This past week, as painful as it may have been for all of us, one son had the chance to learn such a lesson.¬† And boy, was it a stinky one.¬† Let me set the scene…

As many of¬†you know, for the past six years our summers have been consumed by the kids’¬†musicals put on¬†at our church.¬†¬†¬†(If you don’t know, click here or here to see some past reflections on productions they have done.)¬† They are wonderful and the kids look forward in anticipation all winter for musical season to arrive, but they do require the commitment of time.¬† In order to accomplish musical greatness, the producers schedule extra practices throughout the summer, which delights the kids and exhausts the choreographers.¬† Last week, we participated in the extra practices and since the early rehearsal was for the younger kids, I planned to stay with them and help if I was needed in any way (still not ready to start dancing again just yet….), which meant leaving the older three at home hopefully to¬†do some summer reading, possibly a few chores, and generally busying themselves so as not to get into trouble.¬† The *one* job I specifically called out by name and assignment was getting the dumpsters out to the street for pick up on Tuesday morning.¬†¬†¬†While some families live paycheck to paycheck, we live¬†trash collection day to trash collection day.¬† In other words, we generate our fair share.¬† By Monday night, I’m usually¬†looking forward to seeing¬†and hearing (and, depending on the season, smelling)¬†the garbage truck roll up and whisk away our refuse yet again.¬† My kids assigned to this job¬†are hip to how it works: they collect the trash in the house, they place it in the dumpster(s), and they take said dumpster(s) to the street in plenty of time to have it removed.

Or so I thought.

When we returned home after morning practice on Tuesday, I noticed that the dumpsters were not by the street.¬† My eternally optimistic self (a voice I usually tear up, throw down, and dance upon) thought that maybe, just maybe that self-starter child to whom I’d given the job had already returned the dumpsters to the back of the house once they’d been emptied.¬† My eternally optimistic self was wrong.¬† When I questioned Child Assigned to Dumpster Duty about why he’d fallen down on the job, he quickly sprang to life with the “fifty different jobs” his dad had given him after I left for practice.¬†¬† As you can imagine, that didn’t fly too well with Child Assigned to Dumpster Duty’s mom.¬†¬† After calmly explaining how important it is for us to have empty dumpsters on Tuesday (read: hollering), I resigned myself to the fact that for another week–a hot one by the weatherman’s forecasts–we’d have to rearrange and hang on to our trash and hope it didn’t stink too bad by the end of it.

I already know that yelling, lecturing, etc.¬† doesn’t work with CAtoDD, so I quickly halted the barrage of any further verbal bombs.¬† Instead, in a moment of inspiration,¬† a better plan washed over me like the stench of week-old rubbish.¬† I shared the plan with the Dumpster Child.¬† “For the next week,” I instructed him, “You are in charge of finding a place for all the trash.¬† However you need to work it out, you will make sure it is taken care of until it is taken away.”¬† Well, as you could imagine, the child was naturally delighted with such an arrangement, and thanked me profusely for such thoughtful parenting.¬† On Opposite Day.

In actuality, however, ¬†it didn’t affect him too much…until we worked on cleaning the laundry room.¬† And tackled the humongous to do list.¬† These things tend to generate waste, and in our case, bags of it.¬† It didn’t take him long to realize this was going to be a challenge.¬† Through this, he didn’t complain.¬† He knew he’d fallen down on the job, but seemed to at least be owning up to it.

Then came the critters.¬† One morning–I think it was over the weekend–I came out to the kitchen to make coffee and noticed that something had gotten into the overflowing dumpster the night before, scattering trash between the house and garage while the wind threatened to blow it further into the yard.¬† When aforementioned Child woke up, I gently¬†announced that his dirty job for the morning was to re-collect the escaped bits and pieces and get it back in a bag.¬†¬†There was grumbling, but since we don’t have¬†any rubber gloves in the¬†house (and it wasn’t the first time he’d had this “dirty job”), he¬†thought to¬†use a¬†plastic grocery bag¬†to cover his hand and¬†collected the trash.¬†¬† I thought his mouth¬†appeared to be moving, as if he were talking badly to the critter who created the extra work for him or the mother who actually¬†sent him outside to clean it up, but maybe he was just practicing his musical song list.¬† Maybe.¬†¬†Yeah, we’ll go with singing…

Before today, the glorious trash collection day, the critter(s) had one last romp through the rubbish.¬†¬† By this time, the Child Assigned to Dumpster Duty was quite finished with his work.¬† He had had enough.¬† But he still went out there and took care of it…and the door between us is pretty much soundproof, so I let him mutter to himself while he worked.¬† Before he stepped outside and closed the door, however, I did hear a rousing reprieve of the “Daddy gave me 50 other jobs that morning and I had to do what he said!¬† How was I supposed to know the trash collector would come then?!?!” and other variations on that theme.¬† Sigh.

In the end, he got the dumpsters to the street (thanks to the help of a sibling who took pity on his miserable plight), and even took the overflow trash to sit next to the bounteous offering we had for the trash company.  He even brought the empty dumpsters back once the anticipated truck made its appearance and left us with nothing but dumpsters ready to be filled again.

My hope is that he¬†doesn’t forget this week for a long time, if ever.¬† It’s such a simple thing to get the trash out to the street before the truck comes, but it takes discipline to¬†do the things we¬†know we should even if we don’t feel like it.¬†¬† I hope he remembers¬†that when he chose not to get the job done when it was asked of him, he actually created more work for himself in the end.¬† We shall see what lesson actually sinks in, however.

If he asks me to pick up rubber gloves at the grocery store the next time I go, though, I might start to get worried!

It took having six kids to realize a few things…

I don’t pretend to have this parenting thing figured out by any stretch of the imagination, but I’d like to think that as my kids grow, so do I. If not, we all suffer, right? Sometimes growth is fun, and sometimes it’s painful, I will admit. Along the way, I’ve been made aware of my mistakes in my youth, my misguided attempts to “do it right,” and the glimpses of hope that somehow, despite my many imperfections, our kids will turn out OK.

I think having six kids over ten years has done quite a bit for my naturally uptight nature. For one thing (and I still struggle with this!), I’ve come to realize that I won’t have a house that makes the cover of Martha Stewart’s magazines. Or even be allowed to be a house where Martha Stewart’s magazine can even be displayed. But that’s really, really OK. I may be tempted to complain that my kitchen floor is only clean for about thirty minutes every so often, but the reason it’s that way is because I get to see my kids every day, all day. I get to. Even when they drive me crazy, and I drive them crazy (and I would be crazy to think that I didn’t!), I love having my kids around.

That’s not to say it’s not an awesome responsibility that sometimes threatens to crush me with its weight, but I’m relying on the One who called us to homeschool our herd. It definitely is a one day at a time mentality. Sometimes even hour by hour!

As the kids get older, though (and me too; what a bummer….), I’d like to think age is giving me some wisdom and perspective. I’d like to think that I can enjoy the day-to-day a little more. Maybe it’s more like how Jim Gaffigan, the hilarious and astute comedian, described it: “The fact of the matter is, when you’re the youngest of a big family, by the time you’re a teenager, your parents are insane.”

By my calculations, we must be halfway to insane!

So…what made me think such deep thoughts, you may ask? It all started with me catching Brendan playing with water in the kitchen sink. Here’s the picture I took after he walked away:


Such a simple thing. Instead of placing his plate in the sink after he finished his lunch, he balanced it between the two sinks and then proceeded to drip water into it in an attempt to see how much he could add before it tipped over. My first instinct when I saw him “playing in the water” was to jump on him and spout out some altruism about how expensive water is and how it can make such a mess. But in an instant, I caught myself, and realized that he was sort of conducting his own scientific experiment. Even if the plate toppled, the water was surely going to spill into the sink, the designated area for water in the kitchen. Duh. He was intense and at eye level with the plate, and for once, I just let him do it. He continued to drip drops into the plate until his curiosity led him to something else, and the moment was gone. It wasn’t rocket science; just a simple test that I could have so easily squashed had I not listened to that quick and quiet catch.

There is still so much to learn as a parent. I can’t make my kids be what I want them to be–or thought I wanted them to be, but I want to learn to help them be the best person they already are. God made them to be a unique and individual being, and I want to be respectful of that creation. Even if that creation sometimes makes me crazy, there are only six people in the entire world (so far) that get to call me Mom, and that’s pretty darn amazing.

So, if that means letting them get dirty–or wet–or wear mismatched clothes and socks, isn’t that OK? As the days begin to fly by faster and faster, I realize they they are also numbered. Before too long they’ll be too old to be here anymore…every day. As tough as some days may be, I don’t even want to think about the change that lies ahead. For today, we will spend our time balancing plates over a sink of dirty dishes, because the dishes will wait…the kids are growing…and I’m trying not to blink.

Update on Mom’s condition and recovery

For those of you following the saga of my mom’s double femur fracture, it has been 23 days since she fell. Her recovery has been amazing, and I wanted to give an update on her condition. After her initial double surgery to place pins in her legs, she stayed at the hospital for a few days until she was transferred to a rehab facility. If you’ve been reading at all during the month of June, you probably remember how badly that first day and night went for her. It was terribly unfortunate to have such a rotten first impression, but since her initial arrival, she’s been treated better than well and has adjusted to the new–though thankfully temporary–normal.

In the two weeks that she’s been there, she’s gone to physical therapy and occupational therapy every week day, which has been a tough workout every day, but has reaped rewards already. She can climb several stairs at a time and do other milestone activities that she must complete before being able to go home. Without knowing what the units stand for, she has been told that she must score a 56 on a physical therapy evaluation before she will be released: two days ago, she scored a 41. Progress! Every day, it seems, she gets a little stronger and can do a little more.

My dad’s been attending physical therapy with her and has watched her change and work hard. He also stays for quite a bit of time there, takes her outside where there is a long walking path that he’ll push her wheelchair around, and allows her to sit in the sun for a while. I think that has made a big difference in her days. Who likes to be locked up in a hospital-type setting for very long?

Just yesterday, they had a home visit, a needed event in the process of getting Mom to the point of going home. My dad had to pick her and the physical therapist up from the rehab center, and she had to show that she could get in the car, ride in the car, and get into the house. After doing all that, they spent quite a bit of time going through day-to-day scenarios in the house: can you get a drink of water? can you climb the two steps from the back room to the rest of the house? how easy is it to get into the bathroom? can you sit in your favorite chair and then get out of it? how easily can you get yourself into bed and then get out? Most activities were doable, even in their small home, but Dad found out he’ll have to make a few changes to the layout. Mike also knows that he has the go-ahead to finish his bathroom project of changing their tub into a shower with a seat.

She reported that it was lovely to be in their home again, even if only for a short period of time. When I talked to my dad later that afternoon, he seemed most excited about learning that from now on, Mom could “check out” of the rehab center for blocks of time throughout the day, as long as she was back by dark or when she needed a pain pill (whichever comes first). This means they’ll be able to go to church together or out to a meal, or even to the house to sit in the backyard like they enjoy so much during the summer months. I think this may have been the best news of the day for both of them. It seems like the light at the end of the tunnel may have begun to reveal itself to them.

Every time I talk to Mom, she has an upbeat attitude. Even if she doesn’t especially like the situation she has found herself, she seems to be working it out and making the best of it. Dad says she’s made friends with a lot of the other patients in her facility and as they roll and stroll out to the back patio, the patients wave and say hello as she asks how they’re all doing. She reminds me of the stories about her mom– I didn’t have a chance to get to my grandma too too well before she died, but her epitaph seemed to be that “she never met a stranger.” Sounds like my mom is picking up where she left off.

And that’s the gist of it thus far. We’re so thankful that throughout this process, Mom keeps moving forward. That’s definitely worth cheering about! Hopefully the next update will be to announce that she’s on her way home. Thanks for keeping her in your thoughts and prayers. I know she’s felt it and we ALL appreciate it.


Celebrating our June Bugs


June is an exciting month in our family: not only was it the month we began our family in 1996, but we had the pleasure of welcoming two children into the group in June, and a mere five days (and four years) apart. Mid-to-late June seems to bring one celebration after another around here! This year, because there was no chance of my parents making their usual birthday trip to our house because of Mom’s injury, we didn’t have to consider their arrival day, which they usually thoughtfully and equitably plan between all birthdays involved. For those who could make it, this Friday was the day.

Brendan is the resident anti-sweets guy in our family, and has a very narrow line of anything sweet that he’ll even eat. (I firmly believe that it will serve him well later in life. Right now, however, it does tend to make my job more of a challenge. Then again, is there any promise in the parenting manual of ‘easy job’? I think not.) Cake most certainly does not fall into his “I like it” category. Knowing that Andrew, on the other hand, will eat just about anything, I quickly settled on cupcakes and ice cream. Brendan is a large fan of ice cream, so even if he refused the cake, he’d have the solace of ice cream to fall into. (I personally can’t fathom a dislike for anything with sugar. As a recovering sugar addict who can stop any time she wants, I don’t understand the words, “no thanks” when someone offers a dessert. Most instances, I greatly admire his steadfastness. Sometimes, though–especially after I’ve concocted something special–there is the temptation to be tweaked by his poo-pooing. Thankfully, today was not one of those days.)

Since I didn’t want to make just regular ole cupcakes, and since I was still dreaming up new and exciting ways to procrastinate that monster room-by-room to do list, I thought that creating a “fancy” colored cake was just the thing.

What I did is not new. If you’ve been on “Satan’s website,” Pinterest, no doubt you’ve seen the idea often. I asked the boys which three colors they wanted in their cupcakes, which set off a rather long discussion all by itself. There was much back and forth about the best colors and it occupied us all for long enough to put off “The List.” Finally, though, the boys settled on blue, red, and yellow. I mixed up two cake mixes (hey, I didn’t pretend to make this from scratch!), and divided the batter into three very uneven batches. With the help of the boys and Chloe, we added approximately 265 drops of blue, 91 drops of red, and 7 drops of yellow (that was my bowl). That was fun and quite easy. The end result looked like this:


After putting paper liners in my well-used, loved, and appreciated muffin tins, I began by putting some blue batter in the bottoms of each paper.


This isn’t rocket science we accomplished this morning. After the blue, I drizzled some yellow on top, not concerning myself with how much it covered or what it looked like. I figured that as it baked, it would shift a bit anyway. It would be interesting to discover the end result.


Finally, I topped them all with red (DON’T SAY IT IS PINK!!!!!) batter.


They baked for the usual time, plus an extra couple minutes to make up for my lack of self control and inability to keep from opening the oven and peeking at their progress. When they finished, they looked like this:


And this!


I had a bit of the three batter colors left, so I made one more dozen cupcakes only reversing the colors this time.


After they had cooled for a bit, we couldn’t wait any longer. We needed to know what the insides looked like, so I broke one open. Success!! Whatever I’d had in my mind’s eye worked out very well.


Once that cupcake was broken apart, the only humane choice we had left was to conduct a taste test. The three closest kids each got a bit of cake, and quickly gave their reviews….


Hannah added her own special touch when she decorated the cupcakes with her swirl of icing. Chloe and Andrew added sprinkles to make the dessert complete.


Since our yield turned out to be 36 cupcakes, Brendan took some over to our neighbors to practice sharing–and so we wouldn’t be tempted to consume them all prior to the party. Personally, it was tough to wait until dessert time arrived to indulge in the simple treats. Somehow, however, we muscled through (the pizza helped a tad, I must say).

The birthday boys had a good evening and I think we all enjoyed our “tie dyed cupcakes.” (Thanks, Lynsay, for the name!)

Everyone, that is, except Brendan. He thoroughly enjoyed his ice cream instead.



A day in the life of a frustrated organizer

Since my second¬†surgery back at the end of March (almost three months ago), I’ve been babying my back in an attempt to ensure that the second time around will be the last time.¬† (There really is no guarantee, but I’ll do whatever I can to feel better about my odds…)¬† To that end, despite getting the gift of four rounds of housecleaning from my fabulous in-laws, let’s face it:¬† twelve hours of housecleaning vs.¬† eight people constantly shuffling their stuff is really not a fair fight.¬†¬† The eight (sometimes lazy) people win every time in accruing and leaving clutter and other worldly things in all corners and crevices of this house.¬† Add to the fact that we’re almost always here and wow, can we tear up a place!Long story short: our house is sort of a disaster… so much so that I’ve made a room-by-room list of what needs to happen to make each look presentable.¬† That in itself was a project (which allowed me to procrastinate beginning the task even longer.¬† (I’m good at that.¬† Earlier this week I baked a few things and even washed dishes in an attempt to put off starting my list.)¬† My kids have been avoiding eye contact with me, sure that if they look at me straight on that they’re sure I’ll put them to work.¬† They were right.Today’s project began in the laundry room/family closet, an ongoing project/mess that never seems to be done.¬† One of the reasons it never seems to be done is that we all¬†keep creating dirty laundry.¬† This is a problem I don’t see changing, so I am trying to resign myself to the fact that life will always include a regular cleaning and reorganization of this room.I¬†didn’t think to take before pictures, but it’s probably just as well.¬† It was baaaaaaaaad.¬† You can take my word on it.¬† When have I ever lied?

After lunch today, when the kids thought that maybe…just maybe…they’d get away with another day without tackling something on that awful, dreadful, very bad list, I announced as cheerfully as I could, “OK!¬† I’m getting the brooms! Let’s head downstairs!¬† Andrew, grab the trash bags.¬† Patrick, get some music.¬† Let’s go get this DONE!”¬†¬†I’m sure you can imagine how enthusiastically this was received.¬† Yeah, not very.¬† I wasn’t expecting miracles, but still.

For the next two hours (which felt like twenty-seven, just saying), we plodded through the piles, dust, garbage, boxes, spiders, and other crazy things you’d never really expect to find in a laundry room.

It was painful.

The kids were not happy in their work.

I think (quite literally) that it was easier to birth them than it was to get them on board with cleaning that room.

In the end, however, they could see a remarkable change in the room we spent two hours incarcerated–err, I mean, bonded together–in.¬† Here are some “WE DID IT!!” shots…


The buckets which hold underwear, socks, and pajamas for each child make the perfect hiding places for little treasures to save for later…or clothes you don’t really want to hang or put away.¬† We found lots of both today and took care of it.


I don’t think that wire basket there in the picture has been totally cleaned out since c. 2003.¬† Just a guess.


It’s not the prettiest laundry room out there, but by golly, it’s nice to have a clean one!¬† The feeling of having a place for everything is something I don’t experience very often.¬† I’m relishing it.


Although we all definitely did not enjoy the process, each child made comments about the end result and that was a bit refreshing.¬† Perhaps it will sink in at some level that cleaning up after one’s self is actually a GOOD thing and something to work towards.


This all looks¬†wonderful (at least to me)¬†right now, but I’m wondering how long it will last, especially considering laundry day is tomorrow.¬†</p><p><br />The next¬†twelve hours should be fabulous.¬†</p>

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