Category Archives: cleaning

Four for Four

Birthdays come but once a year. And it’s a damn good thing. Any more, and parents would be dropping like flies.

Or I would, anyway. MJ’s party was four days ago now, and I’m only just feeling human again. As for my pocketbook, well, it may need a bit more time to recover. Because you know what? It turns out that even a super casual, bagels-in-the-park,  cupcakes from Vons, no favor bags birthday party can be extraordinarily expensive. It might’ve been cheaper to rent a yacht. Who knew?

But it was worth it. I think. Myra-Jean seemed to enjoy it. Mostly.  I mean, let’s be honest–by the end of such a party pretty much any preschooler is in a stage five meltdown. What with the sugar, the attention, the pinata, the grownups goosing their cheeks–it’s enough to make even the most phlegmatic of four-year-olds blow a gasket. MJ, being no exception to this rule, spent the last half-hour of the party refusing to acknowledge departing guests and screaming “I just want to open my presents!!” I thought we were going to have to sedate her. Good times.

But then it was over–the invitees headed home, the cups and plates cleaned up, the smashed Jupiter pinata stuffed in the trash, the remaining cupcakes tossed. We headed up the hill to our house and ate takeout lunch with our family. Everyone was starved. One thing you forget to do at these things is eat.

As for MJ, she was all over the place. One minute she played with a new toy, the next she was sobbing over getting served the “wrong kind of chicken.” She said she’d enjoyed the party, but it was hard to tell. She was tired. She was mean. She was edgy. And this edginess lasted for the next three days.

It only seemed to lift yesterday–the actual day of her birthday. I’d had to work–a fact deemed unforgivable by my daughter–and it looked like the day could be a total debacle. Myra-Jean was furious when I left.

“You may never go!” she screamed. “Ever!”

The four birthday-themed postcards I’d left her notwithstanding, I felt like the worst parent alive.

But as the day went on, I heard that she cheered up. School was fun. The weather a bit cooler. In the afternoon she did some gardening with her father.

And then I was able to get off early to meet them for dinner! At our favorite restaurant!  We ate pho and crayoned pictures of Walter and Mina on small white pieces of scrap paper. MJ chewed french fries with fish sauce and seemed ecstatic to be up past her bedtime. After dinner, we went to ice cream; when we were done eating it I watched, grinning stupidly, as my husband and daughter danced to “American Pie” in the middle of the empty parlor’s floor.

There, in that moment, I found the joy of her fourth birthday. And, judging by their faces, I’d have to say Mike and MJ did as well. No pinatas, no space decorations, no craft table, no hats. Just a quiet dinner, a sweet dessert, and the hard slate floor of an empty shop.

Perhaps next year we’ll just skip straight to that.

To Done, 10-15-13

Ah, Tuesday. My half day “off.”

  • Dropped MJ at school.
  • Went to car wash.
  • Returned a phone call while waiting for car to be cleaned. Counseled a girlfriend on boy troubles.
  • Drove to Target, still on phone. Continued talking to friend while  looking for stuff for MJ’s space-themed birthday party on Sunday. Uttered phrases like “some mens’ brains really are in their dicks” while perusing the kids’ paper products. Found nothing. Left with cotton balls, candy for the pinata I hadn’t yet purchased, and streamers.
  • Went to Michael’s to return a huge bag of wrong stuff Mike bought for the party. Planned on buying more wrong stuff, but the clerk wouldnt let me return because I didn’t have Mike’s Amex. Spoke angrily to her. Told her I would never shop there again. Knew I was lying. Still, to save face had to leave without making any purchases. Decided to send Mike tomorrow.
  • Dropped suit at dry cleaners.
  • Did a shop at Fresh and Easy, worried the whole time about pinata candy melting in car.  Noticed giant lumpy pumpkins for sale. Got one for MJ. Also bought four bags of groceries, several cases of juice boxes for party, toilet paper, and various kiddie snacks.
  • Raced everything home, unloaded car. Put groceries in fridge. Put candy in fridge. Put toilet paper in bathroom. Lugged lumpy pumpkin to front steps. Worried it would die in the sun. Wondered if it was actually alive. Left it.
  • Changed sheets on our bed
  • Changed sheets on MJ’s bed.
  • Put in a load of laundry.
  • Raced back down hill to nail appointment.
  • Read entire September 3rd edition of New Yorker while getting mani pedi.
  • Went with still-wet nails to bakery to order MJ’s birthday cake. Tried to find solar-system-themed decoration. No luck. Ended up ordering a Transformers cake without the action figures. All that will remain is a partial, fuzzy picture of an unnamed planet. I will supply additional decorations myself. From where, I don’t know. Probably Michael’s.
  • Drove to party supply store to reserve tables. Far more expensive than last year. For a “low key” gathering, this thing is starting to break the bank. Looked for a rocket ship pinata. Nothing close. Sales clerk suggested I buy an R2D2  and cut the legs off. WTF? Left.
  • Went to another party store. It had tons of pinatas, all of them star-shaped with media characters on sides. Contemplated the saturation of corporate branding in kids’ products. Contemplated painting over a Barbie face to make a plain star. Contemplated suicide. Left empty-handed.
  • Picked up MJ, who was grouchy and tired.
  • Brought her home, showed her new pumpkin. Was informed it was the “wrong kind.”
  • Wondered if pumpkins are returnable.
  • Walked dog.
  • Brought in trash bins.
  • Switched laundry.
  • Fed animals.
  • Made dinner.
  • Got MJ ready for bed. Consoled her when she found out I have to work tomorrow and cried for half an hour.
  • Put her down.
  • Straightened house.
  • Wrote post.
  • Considered going back to work full-time.

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Soap Opera

Dishwasher soap should look totally different from the regular, hand washing kind. If it did, I wouldn’t have accidentally poured the latter into my Gaffers & Sattler a couple of nights ago. Poor old appliance. As if being ancient and obsolete wasn’t enough, it’s now stuck midway through a cycle, filled with semi-washed dishes, and clogged with suds.

Fortunately Mike caught my mistake before the entire kitchen floor was flooded.

I looked online for how to deal with this. Turns out there are eight steps! Eight! Four more and I’d be in AA. De-soaping a dishwasher involves towels, a bucket, white vinegar, salt, and God knows what else. I stopped reading after step three. Because who has the time for this?

Still, I bought salt at Fresh and Easy. We needed it anyway. They only had the non-iodized kind. The regular stuff was on sale, and had been cleared out completely. Who waits to buy salt on sale? Is seventy-nine cents really too much to ask? Also, what’s up with the non-iodized thing? Who buys that? Why do they make it?

Most importantly, will it work on a soap-clogged dishwasher? If not, I guess I can always use it to make play dough, since Myra-Jean cannot master the art of re-sealing tupperware. Ergo, every new batch we make dries out in less than 24 hours.

There’s a cup of salt in every batch.

Maybe I’m the one who should be looking for it on sale.

Back to the dishwasher. Here’s what I do know: I have to take all those dishes out and hand wash them. This is depressing, since I’ve already psychologically placed them in the “clean” category. This mental change in status will require major brain rewiring, and probably several extra cups of tea.

And of course I’ll eventually take the eight steps. What choice do I have? I’ll break out the towels, the salt, the eye of newt, whatever. Probably baking soda, too. Everything calls for that. We still have plenty, fortunately–we keep a lot in stock for when Mina attacks a skunk.

The other option is we just stop using the dishwasher.

I’m a genius.

I’m also excessively lazy. Is there a twelve-step program for that?

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To Done, 10/8/13

Today MJ was in school from 9:15 to 2:15. Here’s what I got done while she was gone:

  • Picked up all toys, clothes, and artwork from floor.
  • Straightened MJ’s “studio.” Put all beads, pipe cleaners, stickers, “treasures,” and stamps back in their designated bins, muttering under my breath the whole time.
  • Vacuumed whole house.
  • Mopped kitchen and utility room.
  • Cleaned both bathrooms.
  • Did three loads of laundry.
  • Wrote fundraising e-mail to committee of Winter Faire at MJ’s school.
  • Attempted–twice–to reach donation department at Home Depot. Want them to give two Christmas Trees for our Faire. Won’t get hopes up–they won’t even spring for voice mail.
  • Wrote e-mail to work, asking for days off so that I can attend important Halloween events with MJ. Worried I’ll be denied.
  • Attempted to play with cat. Desisted, due to lack of interest.
  • Washed kitchen rug.
  • Wiped windowsills.
  • Dusted living room.
  • Removed one more alphabet sticker from flat screen TV. At this rate it will be cleared of them completely by 2014.
  • Attempted to remove glue from coffee table. Failed.
  • Attempted to remove piece of construction paper pasted to bathroom sink. Failed.
  • Loaded dishwasher.
  • Wrote another fundraising e-mail.
  • Scanned and e-mailed banking forms for our life insurance company. We fell victim to fraud again (!!) last week, and have had to close our old checking account and open a new one. This has meant contacting everyone we do online billing with and giving them our new routing number, etc. Next time an innocent-looking teenager comes to our door selling newspaper subscriptions “for her school” and asks me for a voided check I plan on assaulting her with a stepping stool.
  • Made bed.
  • Brought in trash cans.
  • Ate lunch.
  • Wrote this.
  • Left for pickup.

Tomorrow, at least, I get to go back to work. Maybe I’ll even get a manicure on my lunch break. That’ll feel like a day off, indeed.

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Hoop Screams

Who would’ve thunk it? The last vestiges of my sanity, stolen by a hollow, round object with orange and white stripes.

No, not a barber’s pole.

A hula hoop. It’s everywhere. Like the makeup brush, the play money, and a few other things I’ve written about here, it’s become totally ubiquitous. But Jesus. Those other items were small. This is different. You can’t have a hula hoop underfoot. It’s seriously unsafe. And you shouldn’t have to see one all the time. It’s a special treat–like cotton candy. You don’t want to eat it more than once a year.

But that’s exactly what I’m doing. Figuratively speaking. For everywhere I turn, there the damn thing is. Like a dog, but with no tail. Or fur. Or–anyway.

I’ve come to believe that the thing is possessed. It moves of its own volition. I never see Myra-Jean play with it. Never. Yet there it is, on the couch. And now it’s in the bedroom. Oh, hello, asshole hoop in the shower. And today? I found it on the kitchen floor, when yesterday I remember very clearly throwing it behind the dresser.

Because yes, I’ve taken to hiding the damn thing. Not quite being ready to trash it, I drop it, instead, behind large, mid-century pieces of furniture. Usually with a great deal of cantankerous muttering. I know, it’s the vertical equivalent of sweeping it under the rug, but I can’t help myself. I’ve also tried sweeping it under the rug. That doesn’t work either.

If I were a different sort of person I’d drill a hole in the wall, put up a nifty hook, and hang that sucker out of the way. I’d make a laminated label, too. A colorful one. In a cheerful font. “Hulas, etc,” it might say. In case other hoop-like objects came later. And there my striped nemesis would remain, coming down only at appropriate moments. Like a well-behaved object of whimsy should.

But I’m not a hook-maker. And I don’t know how to laminate. I don’t do organized. I try, but certain objects elude me. Like this one.

And most others.

At moments like this–when, say, a hula hoop has become the repository of all of my rage and frustration–I wonder whether it isn’t a good thing that I’ve gone back to work. Because I get crazy. It’s the chaos. I don’t “ride it” well. Staying at home is all chaos. Houses are chaos. Dogs are chaos. Kids are chaos. (They’re also, if they’re almost four, sort of psychotic. But that’s another conversation.)

Suffice it to say, work is the easier place. Yes, I miss MJ when I’m there–it’s like a hole’s been drilled out of my side, cauterized, and stuffed with wet hay–but at least when you pick something up it stays there. Things have places. Also, I get breaks, and wear nice clothes, and, holy Christ, lipstick! Remember that? And best of all, the toilet gets cleaned by someone else.

But tonight I’m here. And as I prepare to curl up with my laptop, and Breaking Bad, and my dear girl sleeping in the next room…the hoop gets a pass. I’ll pick it up tomorrow. Or she will. Or it’ll transport itself to the roof.

One thing that’s guaranteed?

It’ll move.

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To Do or Not To Do

Who says grownups don’t have homework? We’ve got a shitload. And there’s no blaming the dog if we don’t get it done.

I’ll speak for myself. I can’t catch up. If life were a graded class I’d be scrambling for a D.

These days, with work added in, I feel unbelievably swamped. Because everything now must be squeezed into the four days when I’m home. Or the parts of those days, that is, when MJ is not demanding my undivided attention to make up for my absence the rest of the time.

Which boils down to about, oh, forty minutes a day. Into which I try to squeeze the numberless quotidian duties of a modern mom, wife and homeowner. Plus:

The fundraising. It’s always on my mind. Always. Heavy is the head that wears the crown. Or the committee chairmanship. How, I ask myself, will I raise thirty thousand dollars for my kid’s school? How? I lie in bed at night worrying. Plotting. Despairing. When I finally fall asleep, I dream about car washes, bake sales, ebay auctions, bank robberies. Only the latter is effective. Because it’s carried out by three-year-olds, with sticks for guns. Riding on bananas. Who’s gonna say no to that?

Then I wake up. And we’re still at zero.

Anyway. Then there’s this blog. I love it. But it’s an obligation, too. Self-imposed, but aren’t most of them?

Next: the garden. Jesus Christ, what a time suck. A while ago, in a fit of impatience and shortsightedness, I had Mike tear out the sprinkler system. Now everything has to be watered by hand. Every other day. Because it’s 150 degrees out there. Plants wilt easily. So do people. It’s a drag. And it takes seventeen hundred hours. I hate it. But I hate looking at bare dirt, too.

Next: the lunches. If we don’t pack those the night before, the morning is a disaster. Even under the best of circumstances our days begin frantically. God forbid we should add in one more task. Especially one involving mayonnaise.

Then there are the phone calls. To friends, family, insurance companies, tax assessors, veterinarians, doctors, handymen,  exterminators, board members, possible fundraising connections, old acquaintances whom I’ve been promising to call for years and haven’t and now they hate me.

And don’t forget the straightening. And straightening. And straightening. And dishwashing, laundry, bathroom cleaning, garbage emptying, sheet changing, doghair sweeping, toy picking up, dusting, organizing, mealmaking and melted-crayon-scraping.

Once all of the above is done (hah!) there’s the book club assignment. “Gone Girl,” at the moment. I like it. But I hate it more. Especially as it has to be done by Wednesday, and I still have 100 pages to go. Each of which will drip with venom, duplicity, and perfidy. Good for the outlook! Next book: “The Power of Positive Thinking.”

Speaking of positives. There is one homework assignment I love. It’s the postcards to Myra-Jean. These are crucial now. They are the sole reason she no longer bursts into tears when I tell her I’m going to work. They actually make her glad. Glad I’m going, so she can look for them. It’s that easy. Or so it seems. It probably isn’t. But it’s helping.

And guess what? I like drawing them. I do it the night before. It relaxes me. Crayons are a cooperative medium. Unlike life.

Anyway. I imagine her face as she finds them, her tapered finger pointing as she sounds out the letters “O-W-L,” her delight at the image of a favorite planet, her soft smile as Mike reads my words. This makes me happy. I need no dog here. Nothing to snatch away this highest and most pleasurable of tasks: the lightening of my daughter’s day. I love it.

And it makes me feel better about everything else that’s been left undone. At least I’ve got my priorities right.

That and thirty grand will get me a decent night’s sleep.

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Just Desserts

Never again will I write a post entitled “Happy Meal.” Or publicly celebrate an uptick in my satisfaction in any way. It’s clearly too risky.

Here are some of the things that have happened in the last three days:

  • We found out that my husband’s debit card was compromised. But, before we did, the thief got most of the money in our checking account.
  • Our credit union informed us that it would take at least ten days to get said money back. After we filled out their forms. Which we couldn’t, because our printer was broken.
  • We had no money to pay our mortgage, which was now late. I had several tearful and humiliating phone calls with our home loan company. They talked to me like I was a crazy vagabond, and offered no solutions. Only after the third such phone call did they mention that there was a fifteen day grace period. I broke down, sobbed that they were sadists for not telling me sooner, and hung up on them.
  • In a panic, wanting fast money, I sold a stock that Mike later informed me was “the wrong one to let go of.” It’s too late to change it. We won’t get the money for days.
  • I also sold Myra-Jean’s balance bike, because she’s had it for two years and never used it. Plus it was always underfoot. And–ahem–money is money. When Mike heard about this he informed me, ruefully,  that it was a shame. “She was finally really, really into that thing.” I am the asshole mom of the century.
  • I came up with a fundraising scheme for MJ’s school.  It involved gathering used clothes and shoes and selling them to a company I found online. I announced said idea to the community with great fanfare, thinking “I am a genius.” The next day I learned that this company and its ilk are basically destroying Africa.
  • The weather has been hellish. If it were any hotter outside I could dry fruit on our front steps.
  • I got my first paycheck. It barely covered the DWP bill.
  • Our tax return seems to be lost. I wonder if the identity thief got that, too.
  • Doing traffic school online is taking forever. Plus, it has made me paranoid and fearful. I am obsessed with collisions. Everywhere I look I see one about to happen. I pause for so long at stop signs that people drive around me. I peruse other motorists like a gazelle watching for tigers. Everywhere, I see an impending attack. The joy is gone.
  • Because of the above, I have no time to watch “Orange is the New Black.”
  • All of our customers at the store are Chinese. I don’t speak Mandarin. I speak Latin. There are few, if any, ancient Romans looking for high-end jewelry. The result? Veni, vidi, no vici.

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Whoops, in a Vacuum

Is this a job for a repair shop or the genius bar?

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Sometimes I feel like God does things to me just so to provide material for this blog. I should be grateful. But this time I think He’s gone too far.

have to blame God, because honestly, I don’t know how else this could have happened. I mean, yes, I was vacuuming near my computer. Which was, yes, on the floor. And did, OK, have earbuds plugged in to it.

But really, Dyson, is your suck that strong? I am awed anew.

And super bummed.

And hoping that you–or Apple, or both–have generous warranties. And a good sense of humor.

Soapy Opera

Among the stats I’m made privy to here on WordPress, my favorite is the list of search terms that, on any given day, lead to clicks on this blog. It’s always interesting. There are a lot of “mockingbirds singing all night,” tons of “oleander poisonous?”, and a good number of “old Gaffers and Sattler dishwashers.”

Yesterday, though, I got a new one: “innocent bystander handsoap.” And I just love it. It begs so many questions. Did the searcher find what they were looking for? What was it? Could it be that they, too, were assaulted by a renegade TJ’s hand-soap and came online to find help? Or is something else–something strange, dark, and bubble-related? Something about which I am clueless?

We’ll never know, most likely. Yet I will enjoy wondering. And googling it myself, if I get the time.

Yesterday

Search Views
innocent bystander hand soap 1
poisonous trees to humans 1
bra thumbs 1
Other search terms 1
Unknown search terms 1
Total search terms 4