Hoarders, the Digital Edition

I’m a digital packrat of the most incurable kind.  That whole “I might need this someday” thing rears its ugly head; I still have 5 1/4″ floppy disks with my college senior thesis on them.  Not that I have any software that can access the files, and it’s been at least 5 years since there was a computer in this house that accommodated ANY floppy disks, but I’ve got those disks…

I use gmail for most of my email, but I have it forwarded through some complicated electronic system or other so I can read it in Outlook on my computer.  Therefore, I never go to gmail’s site unless I need to check the spam folder for something that was misfiled.

I had 67,000 messages in my gmail inbox yesterday.  Years and years and years of messages.  And I deleted them all.

And it didn’t kill me or cause bad things to happen to my family. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

But I’m still not ready to dump those floppy disks.

Things To Do Before the Weekend

In a way, this is my personal response to Hilary Rosen’s comment last night that stay-at-home moms don’t “work.”

There are a lot of loose ends to tie up around this house before I walk out of here Monday morning and return Thursday or Friday, only to have to lie around with my feet up for a while and let other people do what I usually do around the house.

TheDad wants me to write down all the stuff that he will need to know.  Even then, I know that I’ll have kids calling me at the hospital asking me where stuff is and how to do this or that.

Things I MUST get done:

  • laundry
  • dust and vacuum my bedroom
  • write out logistics concerning:  lunches, school bus
  • make tutorial cookbook for Middle Sister
  • square away the Secular Franciscans for next week’s meeting (that’s this afternoon’s task)
  • get my wedding ring removed (and then repaired, so when I’m out of the hospital I can wear it again)
  • grocery list and shopping

Things I SHOULD get done:

  • make arrangements for Anointing of the Sick
  • get ahead (if possible) on the publicity work I do for Room Two Productions
  • finish the last bit of freelance work
  • check on library books
  • clean the bathrooms

Things I’d love to get done but I’m well aware that they “ain’t gonna happen:”

  • take down curtains, launder them, return them to windows
  • launder, starch and iron living-room tablecloths on end tables
  • a really detailed vacuuming of the whole house, including Couch Diving
  • scrub my kitchen floor before my mother shows up here and does it
All this in the next day and a half, because Saturday is busy and Sunday I’ll be doing prep, which means I won’t want to be doing any heavy work.


Opposites might attract when it comes to spouses, according to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal, but I don’t think it works that way in mother-daughter relationships.

Right now I’m responding in a completely irrational manner to my daughter’s announcements that, 1, she’s going vegetarian for Lent, and, 2, that she doesn’t want what I was going to make for dinner tonight either. Completely irrational. Because I’m feeling rejected by this. She doesn’t get that. Not only does she not get it, she’s mad at me.

But I have lost all steam in the dinner-prep process after she started making herself a bean burrito. We can’t both cook in the kitchen at the same time anyway–the room is too small for that. So I left the room. I’m being ridiculously oversensitive and I can’t seem to stop it.

Cooking is a big part of the way I nurture my family. I work around the silly preferences (she’s off soy sauce; Big Brother doesn’t like corn) and the dietary needs (husband with gout, Little Brother with lactose intolerance). I make broccoli that they like instead of Brussels sprouts that I like. I enjoy cooking and making meals that my family likes. And then TheDad skips dinner every Spaghetti Night and Middle Sister (and now Little Brother) announces that tonight’s meal is not a favorite.

I cannot believe I’m sitting here losing it over the dinner plan.


Sometimes You’ve Just Gotta Break the Rules

I have a thing about working on Sundays.  If I don’t have to, I don’t.

Work that gets done on Sunday is work that can’t possibly wait until Monday (or be done ahead on Saturday).  I don’t do laundry on Sunday unless there is a True Laundry Emergency.  The same goes for vacuuming and other housecleaning.  After all, when you’re a homemaker, you do all that stuff every day of the week.  It’s good to remember to take a day of rest, to separate the day in some ways from all the other days.  The same goes for my freelance-writing work.

I do cook on Sunday, but I enjoy that.

Today, though, I emptied out 3 kitchen cabinets, one appliance cart, and one dining-room cabinet.  I took everything out and decided what would go back in–and where it would go.

I present the Leaning Tower of Bakeware.  I can cook 5 1/2 dozen regular-size muffins or cupcakes.  (Not that my oven could hold that many at once, but I’ve got the pans to make it happen).

And the pots and pans and bowls and colanders and…yikes.  It was like the clown car of kitchen cabinets.  More stuff just kept coming out.

I have a huge bucket (one of those party buckets with the rope handles) OVERFLOWING with stuff that didn’t make it back into the cabinets:  stuff that’s used maybe once or twice a year, so I’ll keep it elsewhere; and stuff that I just don’t use, so I’ll donate.

Now, all my bakeware is in ONE place.

The rewards of treating Sunday as a day of rest are great.  This afternoon, I worked.  I spent about 2 hours not resting so that I can make my future time spent in the kitchen much more pleasant.  (There’s even a tablecloth on the table!)  On a weekday, I don’t get 2 hours in the afternoon to do this kind of stuff–I’m too busy being a taxi driver, referee, and nagger-about-homework.

It’s taken 12 years to get my kitchen to look this good.

Now I can rest, and enjoy the fruits of my labors.

What a difference a day makes

Teenagers.  They’re frustrating one minute, but inspire your awe and pride the next.  Since I vented yesterday about that little attitude problem I had with my daughter, it’s only right that I commend the heart and friendship she exhibited today.

Even more amazing is that all of this happened while she was very far from feeling her best.  She was feeling pretty punky this morning, but in the absence of a fever or migraine or stomach-flu symptoms, I sent her off to school.  Just after 8:30 (less than 45 minutes after her arrival) she texted me to come pick her up, that she was in the nurse’s office.  Yup, stomach flu.

True to form, she opened up during the short drive home.  (Kids always open up in the car!)  Apparently a good friend of hers is very upset with her mom.  The friend is an only child; Mom’s a single parent; Dad is remarried and lives in a nearby city with his new wife and 2 small children from that marriage.  And Mom doesn’t drive, but she works long hours, until late at night sometimes.  My daughter’s friend feels like she gets no attention from her mom, that her mom doesn’t care about her, that she should move in with her dad.  She is either alone from just after school until late in the evening or with an aunt, uncle and young cousin with whom she doesn’t get along well.

I observed to Middle Sister that her friend probably wasn’t complaining to her all the time in order to get Middle Sister to solve the problem; that she probably just wanted someone to listen.  And I commiserated with her friend that it must be tough to be all alone all evening with no way to get anywhere, and all of that.

A few minutes after we arrived home, my daughter was set up with her ginger ale and crackers and cell phone.  And then she asked if we could do something for her friend, if her friend could come here after school a couple of times a week and have dinner with our family so she wouldn’t be alone so much.

I told her that would be fine, as long as I knew in advance when we’d have a dinner guest and if it wasn’t on the nights when Little Brother has rehearsal, because we’d have to drive this girl home after dinner and that won’t work on rehearsal nights.

And this is why I do what I do.  She may be 16, but as her friend’s situation clearly demonstrates, 16-year-olds need parents around too.  Families with a stay-at-home parent make sacrifices so that can happen.  I know that not every family is able to do this, but I am very grateful that my family can and does, and that, in her own way, my daughter knows that it’s a good thing.

From the Department of "How Did THAT Get There?"

Things found on the living-room corner hutch while decorating for Christmas:

–one giant oak leaf, almost too big to fit in a Ziplock gallon-size bag
–two complete decks of cards
–the three of hearts from a third deck of cards
–one guitar pick
–six pieces of Lego U-Build Battleship
–one sea shell (clam)
–one nonfunctional laptop battery
–two Cub Scout awards
–one penny
–one “little black book” of Lent reflections
–one big black patch with a white star and Indian chief pictured on it (I’m guessing this belongs to one of my Scouts?)
–one video camera
–program from MAME
Middle Sister’s certificate from her school’s fall Honors Assembly
–one blue plastic frog
–and a black-and-white plastic chicken foot, broken off some long-tossed action figure.

This is, of course, in addition to all the stuff that’s supposed to be on those shelves:  photos of all the cousins, our framed wedding invitation, and a statue of St. Joseph.  That cabinet is my living room’s very own, very dusty Black Hole.

Real Person, Real Saint

Today is the feast of Saint Martha, one of my very favorite saints.

It’s the saints like Martha that give me hope for ordinary people like me.  So many times we put the saints on a pedestal.  We think that they were always perfect, always praying, always doing the right thing.

People tend to do that with their heroes, saintly or otherwise.

But we never get the chance to put Saint Martha on a pedestal.  She starts right off by ratting out her sister to Jesus, their honored guest.  And Jesus gives it right back.  He lets her know that she is just way too stressed out and that she’s letting her anxiety get in the way of her hospitality.

I’ve had way too many “Martha moments,” and I’m not talking about Martha Stewart.  I’m talking about the Screaming Meemie Party Mom who often inhabits my house before we have company.  It isn’t pretty.  It isn’t fun, for me or anyone else.  I’m sure Saint Martha wasn’t having fun that day either, especially when she was embarrassed in front of all her guests as Jesus took her to task.

She redeemed herself later, though, when she confidently proclaimed her faith in Jesus and who He was.

Saint Martha reminds me that saints are, in fact, real people with real faults, real challenges, real attitudes and real faith.

Saint Martha is the patron of cooks, servants, homemakers, single women, laundry workers, innkeepers, dieticians and travelers.

Read an interview with Julie Davis, another Saint Martha fan, right here!

Image credit

Dead Giveaway

I was all over this article on home organization at BHG.com (Better Homes & Gardens) until I got to page 7: the Living Room Art Station.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

Parents will see the problem immediately.

White carpet. Paint on a low, accessible-to-toddlers shelf. Presumably there is a playroom or family room somewhere else in the house. I’m sure there must be a kitchen somewhere–one that doesn’t have a white carpet.

Clearly the people who came up with this brilliant idea have never spent any time with small children. (To her credit, Middle Sister saw the trouble with this room instantly.)

Image credit: BHG.com

Slowly but Surely…Spring Cleaning

I’m using the 3-bag method to clean up in here today.

  • 1 paper grocery bag for recyclable paper
  • 1 tote bag for stuff that belongs in another room
  • 1 trash bag

So far so good!  I’ve discovered that I do, indeed, have a desktop.  It is brown.  It is not dusty, because there was no room for any dust to land on there!

I found a couple of things I didn’t know were missing, and my bag of stuff to relocate is by far the fullest of the 3 bags.

The rest of the house still needs work–lots of work.  But my little corner of the world is well on its way to neatness.