posts tagged with 'cleaning'

we need to do this periodically

With the acceleration of adventure season, I started to notice some ways our experience of the car could be improved. The main problem it had was that one of the seatbelts had gotten stuck: the plastic covering on the side of a middle row seat is loose, and its seatbelt had somehow gotten twisted around the sticking out piece, pulled all the way out, and then retracted. With no way to get more slack, it only got tighter and tighter every thing we tried. We left it for a while; after all, we have other seats. But it was annoying when we wanted to have all five of us in the car. So I tried some things, and did lots of internet searching about how to release a locked seatbelt.... but no luck. Then yesterday I had a brainwave: the middle row seats in our van are removable! So with Harvey's help it was the work of half a minute to unhook it and slide it back far enough for the seatbelt to be slipped free. Why didn't I think of that before?!

Of course, with the seat out I was confronted with how dirty the car had become over the late winter. Piles of clothes (mostly Zion's, but some from all of us), books, school materials, and, most of all, a thick coating of rocks, sticks, shells, and other treasures from nature. The sticks are the worst, since the dogs chew them every time they ride with us the create a pretty good mulch. Then once we got all that stuff mostly cleared out I discovered that the trunk was pretty wet, from what cause I have no idea. Spilled water bottle? Melting snow from sleds? Leak? Car left open in the rain? All are solid possibilities. The worst of it was that the back row seat which had been folded down was also wet, and starting to get a little moldy. Yuck!

So we wiped the mold off and left everything open so it could dry out. With all the sticks and crumbs cleared away things looked pretty good—like we could go anywhere and do anything! Then of course it rained overnight. So that was a setback, but still, I feel like we made forward progress towards a usable and comfortable vehicle. And we'll have a dry day soon I'm sure.


hard labor

The boys were prostrated by a day at the pond; I survived that fine, but barely made it through a half-hour of vacuuming this afternoon! While the days have been hot lately it's been getting cool enough at night that we haven't had any problems keeping the house cool, at least until 3:00 or 4:00 every afternoon. But there's still latent heat in the air or something, because if we so much as turn on a burner the kitchen becomes an unendurable sauna. And it turns out the vacuum cleaner puts out just as much heat! If I could have avoided running it I would have, but there are these dogs. It was getting so we couldn't see the rug anymore with all the bits of chewed-up pencils and plastic bags they'd strewn everywhere, to say nothing of the dirt they track in from their delightful romps in many local mud-holes. So I cleaned up a bit: it took, as I said, about half an hour. Then because of the heat I had to rest of the couch in front of the fan for 45 minutes. Some people get lots of things done in a day. I'm not sure how they manage it! Maybe they have air-conditioning.

the great chain of being

I try as a parent not to be too bossy, but there are still times—oh, there are times—when I find in necessary to ask the kids to do something. Like if I have to pick up their winter clothes from all over the floor I'll go berserk and do something I'd regret later. To stay as far away from that scenario as possible we have rules for putting things away, and we also have cleaning time in our schedule. Times. That way I have to do less bossing. Interestingly, though, any cleaning work provides an opportunity for Harvey to pass the buck on down to Zion.

In his defense, I do sometimes do it to him. If I'm vacuuming and see legos on the floor I'll ask him to pick them up, say. Being a good big brother, he does whatever he can to subcontract to Zion. Zion is the one who ends up bringing things up the stairs, more often than not (which he maybe doesn't mind because then he can hide out for ten minutes "putting them away"). But Zion's service isn't limited to cleaning time; today they were playing outside and Harvey sent his brother in to fetch him his binoculars. That's the way of the world, I suppose. Hierarchy is inescapable.

That said, nobody tries to tell Lijah to do anything in the cleaning or fetching line. We all know it would just lead to disappointment. Poor Zion.


everybody everywhere, everybody do your share

I just cleaned up the front yard—mostly—for the first time in a couple of weeks. It's not that I don't care about the bikes, scooters, and random detritus scattered around; I'd love to have a pretty yard for my own sake, to say nothing of wanting to spare our neighbors the eyesore. There's just so much cleaning up that we have to do every day!

I admit to some frustration about how much time straightening up takes away from more useful projects. We work pretty hard to restore the house to its ground state, but before you know it it's messy again and we have to do all that work again. Now, it's not that I'm annoyed with the kids—most of the mess is their stuff, but they mostly provide an age-appropriate level of help with the cleaning, when we remember to ask them. Just that I wish we could make more progress solving deeper structural problems or making better systems.

Maybe it's just that we have too much stuff overall. There's certainly lots of rideable clutter—we own ten bikes and six scooters, plus an indeterminate number of plastic ride-on toys. And while—inside at least—everything has its place, there are still an awful lot of things that have to be put back in their place on a daily basis. But getting rid of anything is hard, for reasons both psychological (we like it!) and practical (it would all have to fit in the trash can!).

With Lijah being so difficult these days we're feeling a little under-resourced generally, so maybe that's at the root of the problem. If so, maybe we can look for it to turn around in a month or two. At least we're managing to keep the house liveable, rather than descending into squalor (most days at least), and at least we manage to clear the front yard every couple weeks. It's beautiful clean now, and will remain so until 8:30 tomorrow morning. Or maybe even longer if it's raining!


why our house did not get clean on Saturday

We would like more time please. There never seems to be enough to do all the things we hope to accomplish, at least if you include sleep in the list of desirable activities. It's working that does it: I'm obviously out of the house for most of the effective non-sleeping hours, and as the only parent home Leah does wonders but still falls short of her ideal productivity. So we tend to greet weekends as wonderful expanse of open useful time stretching out in front of us—just imagine what cooking, cleaning, and even organizing we'll accomplish! Though often imagining is as far as it goes. But we have a good reason for that!

Our excuse is that, when presented with an opportunity to do something fun, we tend to take it. On Saturday, for example, the bizarrely warm weather gave Leah the idea of going to Drumlin Farm; when we invited our friends along it was revealed that they had had the same thought and were about to invite us. The outing was thus clearly divinely ordained, so off we went. Then we brought them home to dinner at our house—unplanned, un-prepared-for—so naturally, rather than getting cleaner, the kitchen (to take only one example) got almost unimaginably messier. (The fact that three of the homemade beers exploded upon opening did not help the situation.) Sure, this afternoon all was made presentable again, but theoretically I could have been cleaning other things had the kitchen already been done.

But never mind hypotheticals. Even if you assume that I could manage two days of solid cleaning, something not really borne out by evidence, what kind of existence would that be?! A clean house is easier to live in, but the real reason we want it to stay nice is so we can offer hospitality, so it would be silly to pass up an opportunity to invite folks by now because we're getting ready for some as-yet-undetermined future visit. Also if all we did was clean we'd be even grumpier when all our work was undone in scarce moments by children and food preparation, as it invariably is.

So. We want a clean house, but not at the expense of fun times. We're working on having both. So stop by any time... and we're now accepting invitations for outings next weekend.