Sunday, February 27, 2011

Spring Cleaning

It's beginning to feel a lot like Spring these days, and inevitably a Spring stirring begins inside of me: The desire to "Spring Clean" the house, press the sheets, buy new throw pillows in fabulous patterns or colors for inside and out, the desire to refinish some piece of furniture or rearrange the layouts, to clear the clutter out of the bedroom, throw the drapes open and wake up to the sun shining and the smell of a freshly cleaned and feng shuied space. Today, I was home all day.  As in, "my brakes gave out and no mechanics were open on Sunday to fix them," home. I was pretty bummed to be stranded because I had plans to try a new church and then take the boys over to a friend's house for some Oscar watching (while they slept peacefully in her back room, was the plan).  Once I realized that the real plan was No Plan, I settled in and decided to begin a little of that "Spring Cleaning" I have been daydreaming about.  Mind you, technically I daydream about the house ALREADY being clean...not the actual act of doing it.  So "Spring Cleaning"? (Insert sarcastic laugh here.) I cleaned all day long- around feeding kids (then cleaning up those dishes again), a brief friend's visit (where we ate and drank, guessed it: I had to clean up from that), entertaining a preschooler and a baby (P.S. It's not especially effective cleaning per se, but at 3 years old, I got an enthusiasm for cleaning that I've never seen before. Especially when I told him he could vacuum all by himself. Mm-hm. Child labor at it's best.) and lastly, I cleaned while keeping a watchful eye on the Oscars.  This is what I accomplished: Pruney fingers from doing dishes all day long but a clean, maybe even slightly cleaner than normal kitchen; a non cluttered living room/dining room with a vacuumed rug (but no actual dusting, sweeping or mopping got done in there);  a few clean clothes put away; and new sheets on the bed.  (Okay...okay...the sheets are not yet on the bed because I'm procrastinating to write a blog post, but they will get put on the bed before I get into it tonight!)  There was a little progress made in my house today, but it was far from anything I would consider "Spring Cleaning".  I think an actual Spring Cleaning would require one full week of no job, no husband, no kids, and no need to ingest anything that requires the use of any dish or utensil.  THEN, I could get some spring cleaning done.  I could reorganize my "junk" drawer(s), launder every article of clothing that is piling up in the corners, clear out all of the stuff that I don't know what to do with by boxing it up for Goodwill (then actually depositing it at said Goodwill), and reconfigure the furniture with some new Spring-y throw pillows.   I've read all of the book about tackling all of the household chores. I buy all of the magazines- especially the ones with names like Real Simple, that are simply designed to make you feel bad about yourself-and I know that the only way this Spring Cleaning thing is going to get done in my house is to take it 15 minutes at a time, here and there.  "Tackle one problem spot in your home each day", I hear in the back of my mind from all of these books and magazines... So, I will tackle.  Spring might actually be over before I have a chance to finish, but I will tackle.

I am regularly left wondering how I am supposed to get it all done.  For instance: I look forward to my book clubs each month and enjoy the creativity that is sparked by the meetings we create.  However, I find myself over-promising at times.  Last night was a book club meeting where we all volunteered to bring an international dish of our choosing, as it related to the book we read.  I chose India and decided to bring Samosas with mint chutney and Raita sauce.  I love Indian food, and we have some great Indian markets in our neighborhood to draw inspiration from.  I intended to plan well in advance.  I intended to start early.  Yet, with all of the best intentions, two kids, a stressed out husband, a job and a business, I found myself Samosa ingredients-free and no time to try to make it work. So, I stopped off at a local market with a rockin' restaurant at the back of the shop, and loaded up with samosas, chutneys and raita.  On my way home, my brakes started grinding and I didn't know if I was going to even make it home, much less to the book club!  Luckily, a friend from the book club came to my rescue and picked me and my store-bought samosas up.  When we got to the book club, we all dug in to the goods: homemade empanadas, a family recipe for Hungarian cabbage pasta, homemade Russian blinis, crepes, home baked cupcakes, cookies and biscotti even!  I want to think that every time I have the desire to contribute some heart felt cooking creation, that I can do it.  This week offered up a lot of obstacles. It was going to be the choice between a crazy amount of stress to fit in some samosa baking or just a little less stress in my overly scheduled week. I chose less stress.  Did I have a twinge of "Man! I should've

This coming week is going to put my getting-it-all-done skills to the test again.  Tomorrow looms over me with the challenge of getting the car (which is embarrassingly filthy and I'm just going to have to get over it) to the mechanics upon first opening, so that Charles is still home to get me from the mechanic and then drop Christian at preschool.  Next, I have to hope that it takes 3 hours or less to fix the brakes, so I can go and do a presentation on what it's like to be a ballet teacher to Christian's class.  I'm shaking my head and wondering how that is all going to work...I don't like appearing like a hot mess, but that's kind of how I feel I'm starting this week off.  Ugh.  The best news, though? Girls weekend is coming up.  I can't believe it is actually working out, and just 3 months into the year I can tick off a box on my New Year's resolution list.  I haven't had a Girls Weekend since I was single. 

And really?  I'm glad I'm checking off the Girls Weekend, before I'm checking off the Spring Cleaned house.


Hal said...

Jen, I would never have known your samosas weren't homemade! They clearly still came with love, and we love you for that (and many other reasons, too!)

As for the spring clean... when we were renovating, I felt like we would never get the house under control. In the end, I adopted a simple mantra: on a bad day, hold the line - you might not get any closer to defeating the clutter, just don't slide back. On a good or average day, hold the line and do ONE LITTLE THING to improve. Clear out the kitchen drawers. Round up that clothing that never gets worn for Goodwill. Sort that pile of loose papers into files marked "house" or "taxes" or "immigration"... do one little thing per day for three months and you've done 90 little things, and that adds up to a whole lot of progress! And every step you take makes the next step easier... soon you'll be looking for things to do. We had our house together before we knew it. Had I looked at it as one big job, it would never, ever have been completed... taking one baby step each day, it happened almost without me noticing it.

So as always - we love you, be kind to yourself, do what you can when you can and don't fret about it when you can't... just keep at it, because it WILL all come together in the end.

And on the slim chance it doesn't... you'll always have the book club ladies there to have your back.


Carol said...


Cleaning is a never ending task but feels soooo good when finished. Those 2 hours (if you get them) when the baby is napping is filled with all sorts of intentions...dust the shutters, clean the closet...vacuum the curtains...file the bills...and poof the time is gone. I had a neighbor who suggested organizing a playdate with her son for the afternoon and then return the favor when I wanted it. It was a great idea and we took each other up on it. Nice. :-) Some of the best ideas came from when I was cleaning.

By the way, the empanadas and Russian treats made me drool.

Love Carol