Tag Archives: cleaning

Toilet Water with a Wine Chaser

Yesterday we left the youngest home alone for a little while. Upon returning, I notice a spill on the kitchen counter, on the opposite side from the sink and fridge. Not a spot where we usually pour drinks or spill ice cubes, so it was a bit unusual.

And, as everyone knows, in order to clean something up effectively, you should know what it is. For example, if it was water, I would have wiped it up with a paper towel. If it was Sprite or some other sugary beverage, I would have used a wet rag. If it was wine, I would’ve probably used a straw.

But the location of this had me puzzled, and I really didn’t know what it was or how it got there.

So, like any crazy practical woman would do, I dipped my finger in the spill and tasted it. Water. Good. Wipe it up and go on, and no point wondering for too long how it got there.

But a few minutes later, there was more water on the counter, so I looked up. I noticed some water on the bottom edge of the upper cabinet. My mind is trying to figure out how water got there. Did someone smack a cup or bottle of water on the counter, causing it to shoot up? Had it been a carbonated drink, the kid might have had a gusher, but it was water. Where was water coming from?

I looked further up, and there it was. Water dripping through the ceiling. Must be the water heater. Mr. Wonderful and I dash up the stairs and into the attic, but that’s not it. We move into the bathroom.

But the bathroom floor is dry. So we check under the sink. Dry. Then I feel the wet rug, and all the pieces of the puzzle fly into place in an instant. The boy overflowed the toilet. The boy tried to clean it up so we wouldn’t know. I just tasted potty water. Dirty potty water.

Yep. I drank what came out of one of these. (Thank you, Microsoft, for the royalty-free image.)


So now I have a new item on that list of Things I Never Thought I’d Do.

I drank a glass of wine to sanitize my mouth calm my nerves.   Then I got out the mop and bleach and cleaned it up. And now my kitchen and bathroom smell Clorox-fresh, and I’m out of wine.

*  *  *  *

This post was submitted to Yeah Write!


Life is Good Enough.

Good enough.

I used to hate those words. They always seemed like a cop-out.

Then I had three kids. And we bought an apartment building. And got a dog. And I started taking care of my in-laws. And I just couldn’t keep up with my old standards any more. I started to feel inadequate, and beating myself up regularly over the things I couldn’t get done.

But I found a solution. A way out of the self-imposed guilt. I’ve turned over a new leaf.

I’ve embraced mediocrity.

And now, good enough has become . . . Good Enough. Not just a measure of acceptance, but a whole new philosophy for life. A new mantra.

Here are a few excerpts from the Good Enough Manual:

Good Enough Laundry = clean (for the most part). The kid who hasn’t yet gone through puberty may occasionally wear shirts more than once. Folding is optional. And you already know how I feel about sorting socks.

No more shame!

Good Enough Dinner = everyone eats something. Most nights I provide the meal. Most nights we eat together. But if we can’t, we can’t. My children are now old enough to handle sharp knives and prepare food. They know the way to Subway. They won’t go hungry.

Good Enough Housekeeping = a reasonable standard of hygiene in the bathrooms and kitchen. Enough said.

Dusting is now optional.

Good Enough Landscaping = the weeds will die once we have a cold snap. Probably. If not, they’ll bloom in the spring and I’ll call it a garden.

I’m no longer envious of my friends with their picture-perfect homes and spotless cars. They can hop in with me and we can go to lunch. Or we can drive out to the lake and eat Cheerios off the back seat. It doesn’t matter to me.

This weekend we’re going to a cross-country meet in Baton Rouge. Instead of rushing home as soon as The Caboose crosses the finish line, we’re going to go visit The Trailblazer at LSU. We’re going to enjoy a little October weather and I’m not going to worry about housework.

When I get home I may print up some membership cards to the Good Enough Club. Who wants one?



Boy Caves – or Why I let my son’s room look like this (and other parenting rules I break).

The Caboose's Boy Cave

There’s something I really hate about my kids.

They’re slobs.

But I’m OK with that.


I had this realization when I was trying to enter Slick’s room recently, but was stopped a few feet in the door by the arrangement of debris and furniture.  I made a comment about not being able to walk around all the stuff, expecting a guilt-ridden boy to hop up and clear a path for me.  Instead he replied, “I like it that way.”

It took me a minute to process what he said.  Then I looked around, and from where he was sitting, on his big, oversized chair next to his bed, everything was perfect.  His laptop was within reach, the table he does homework on was at his right hand, his gaming chair perfectly positioned in front of the tv with the Xbox nestled below.  Sure he had to navigate around things to get to his little cocoon, but once there, everything was at his fingertips.  I just had to look at it through his eyes to see it.

My next stop was The Caboose’s room.  I paused at the door, looking in.  I saw a cluttered, disheveled mess.  Crap all over the dressers, toys pushed to the perimeter of the room, clothes hanging on the closet doors.  Then I went in, and sat in the “clear” area where he sits when he plays.  Everything was within reach.  There were dirty clothes among the toys and shoes scattered about, but when I called him up to ask him if he liked it like that, he said that he did.

I’ve tried many times to clear some of the junk from their rooms.  We go through the clutter, item-by-item, and I ask if they’re ready to part with things.  The answer is always the same.  Those dust catchers are markers of their lives.  Souvenirs from vacations, sports memorabilia from favorite teams, art projects they made themselves.  Every piece is part of them, and they want them there.  The collection continues to grow.  The clutter stays.

They may go a few days without putting clothes in the hamper, but eventually it gets done.  The consequence is theirs when the shirt they want to wear isn’t clean.  And they always manage to find the shoes they need, and seem to know right where to look.  Perhaps there really is some organization amongst their chaos.  I just don’t understand the methodology.

As for the closet doors being open (a pet peeve of mine), I saw it as a sign of maturity.  There are no longer monsters in that closet, so there’s no need to close the doors to keep them in.

That particular day The Caboose’s covers and pillows were on the floor, a reminder that he has recently taken to sleeping beside his bed instead of on it.  At first it was just on weekends, like a one-man sleepover, but then he started sleeping on the floor every night.  He said he liked it.  I resisted at first, because you’re not “supposed” to do that.  But he was sleeping, which was the goal, so I allowed it.  He kisses me goodnight, and crawls into his little space without a peep.  Another parenting standard out the window.

This was an epiphany for me. 

Children have very little control over their world.  They spend most of their waking hours trying to accommodate the requests of parents and teachers, much of the time operating in a manner that’s not in their comfort zone.  We tell them when to go to bed, when to wake up, what to wear, where to go.  Teachers tell them where to sit, what page to turn to, when the can go to the bathroom.  I started feeling like the least I could do was to cut them a little slack about their room.

I needed to put into practice the best parenting advice there is:  Choose Your Battles.

It would be easy to fight constantly with your kids, because adults and kids have very different views of things.  But there are things that really matter, and things that really don’t.  And I’m going to start giving less importance to the things that don’t really matter, and saving my ammunition for the things that do.  The worst thing we parents can do is exert control over our kids just because we can.

So if you stop by, and my kids’ rooms are a mess, don’t expect an apology.  As long as they stay within the parameters we agree on (safe passage to and from the bed, closet, and door) I’m going to give them some latitude.  And let them have their Boy Caves the way they like them.

Perfect House?? Puh-lease.

The other day I was blog hopping and stumbled upon 31 Days to Clean: Having a Martha House the Mary Way.  Curious, I clicked a few links and found out the premise: Following a detailed plan to do some REALLY detailed cleaning in your house, a little every day.

I must admit, I felt a little enthusiastic at first.  I’m picturing my house at the end of the 31 days, gleaming all over, and no trace of cobwebs under the dining room table or pawprints on the living room windows.  I’m hosting a party in late October, and the “new and improved” version of my house would be a pleasure to show off in such a state.

I looked a little closer.  At first thought, this sounded like a really great idea.  I peeked at the calendar like it was the Holy Grail.

Day 3: Dust the top of the refrigerator, cabinets and shelves.  Clean and shine outside of cabinets.  OK, I can do that.

Day 9:  Sweep, vacuum, and mop kitchen floors.  Add some fresh flowers to brighten your day.  Sounds great.

Day 15: Wash bedroom mirrors, walls, and insides of windows.  Wash window treatments.  Dust ceilings.  Huh?  Dust ceilings??

Day 24:  Clean out desk.  Clean out and update files.  Organize office supplies and drawers.  Clean out files?  Can’t I just get another file cabinet??

But it all sounded reasonable, so I started thinking about when I could kick off my house cleaning binge effort.  It was about that time that I realized this plan was a couple-hour-a-day plan.  When was I supposed to do all the stuff I already do every day?  Between buying fresh flowers and dusting ceilings, when was I supposed to do laundry, clean toilets, make beds, cook meals, feed the dog, water the plants, and all the other stuff I try to get to every day but manage to fall short??  The last thing I need is another plan to make me feel even less adequate than I already do.

These steps amounted to about 2 hours a day.  Now, if I cleaned my house for 62 hours – with or without a plan – it would be spotless.  So this idea was a total scam.

As I pondered the mission over a glass of wine for a few minutes, I came up with an alternate plan:  31 Minutes to Clean:  How a Real Woman Gets It All Done.

Anthea Turner, Perfect Housewife.

Supplies needed:  a couple of garbage bags, scented all-purpose cleaner, toilet brush, vacuum cleaner, Swiffer cloths, cleaning wipes, and a scented candle.

Step 1 (5 minutes) – Collect garbage.  Nothing screams neglect like garbage cans that are spilling over.  Empty all the trash cans, and roam through the house checking for garbage.  Pay extra attention to the space behind teenagers’ beds.  This is where they like to hide the trash from the snacks they’re not supposed to be eating in their rooms.

While you’re at it, pick up all the dirty clothes they left on the floor and toss them in a hamper.

Step 2 (5-7 minutes, depending on how many bathrooms you have and the gender of your children) – Splash some scented cleaner in the toilets.  Swish it around and flush.  If you have male children, wipe the areas around the toilet, because they can’t aim.

Step 3 (6 minutes) – Pull the covers up on all beds.  You have about 2 minutes per room for this step, so make ‘em count.  Smooth the covers and place the pillows at the top of the bed.  If you have decorative pillows, toss them on, too.

Step 4 (3 minutes) – Pick up the clutter in the living and dining room.  Keep a few decorative baskets around so you can toss things in and make it look like it’s supposed to be there.  Grab a Swiffer and give the horizontal surfaces a quick wipe.

Step 5 (5 minutes) – Run the vacuum cleaner through the traffic paths.  Make sure you go in one direction so the carpet will stand up in a pattern, and visitors will know you vacuumed.

Step 6 (3 minutes) – Throw dirty dishes in the dishwasher.  Rinse the coffee pot.

Step 7 (3 minutes) – Wipe the counters with a scented wipe.  Don’t buy the cheap ones, they leave streaks and cause more work.  I like Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Wipes.  They’re pricey, but they smell good.  And a house that smells good must be clean, right??

Step 8 (5 minutes) – Run a vacuum over tile and wood floors.  Spritz tile with a little scented all-purpose cleaner to make it smell clean.

Step 9 (1 minute) – Light a scented candle.  (Using the same scent will help you pull off the illusion.)  A good scented candle can make up for a lot of neglect.

For those of you inclined to check my math, that’s about 36 minutes.  But you get my point.

Real women don’t have time to do dust ceilings or update files.  We’ve got kids to raise, parents to tend to, meals to cook, and some of us even have jobs.  And helping with homework.  Don’t get me started on the homework.

So take my advice.  Forget about having a perfect house while your kids are little. If there’s no dust under your refrigerator, then you probably missed out on something.

If you give a Mom a vacuum…

{ Via: workitmom.com }

I really should vacuum.

But if I vacuum and don’t bathe the dog, the house will still smell like dirty dog. So if I vacuum, I have to bathe the dog.

If I bathe the dog, I’ll have to clean the bathroom.

If I clean the hall bathroom, I may as well clean all the bathrooms.

If I clean all the bathrooms and vacuum, I should probably mop the tile.

If I mop the kitchen, I should wipe down the cabinets.

If I’m getting the wood cleaner out, I should do the banister as well.

If the banister is clean, I should clean the paw marks off of the front door.

I think I’ll go shopping.

Good Night, Sleep Tight . . .

I know I’ve already extolled the perks of having big kids, but a few weeks ago, Mr. Wonderful and I pushed the envelope a little further, and planned an overnight trip – without any kids.  The Trailblazer is still home for the summer, so we left him in charge and darted down I-10 to the Mississippi Gulf Coast for a get together with Mr. Wonderful’s old high school friends.

We had a lovely time, and for a few blissful hours, I actually forgot I had kids.  (There’s something about being around the people who remind you of a time before you had kids that can actually transport you back to that time. Aaahhh.)  We hung out at a casino (no one under 21 present), had dinner at a lovely restaurant (no chicken nuggets on the menu), and spent the evening at an outdoor venue listening to music (drinking refreshing adult beverages) in the July Mississippi heat.  The next morning we gathered again for brunch, slowly bringing ourselves back into reality for the trip home.

This is the critter I found in my bed. * cringe *

It was so blissful I completely forgot about a topic that has been in the news quite a bit lately.


I don’t travel much anymore, so when this topic hit the current events circuit in every news outlet in America I brushed it off as something that really didn’t apply to me.  I disregarded all of the advice on how to inspect a room for evidence of bedbugs and how to handle your luggage in a way that reduces the likelihood of bringing them home with you.

I now regret not paying better attention to that advice.

Sure enough, as I’m stripping beds last week, I pull back the fitted sheet on my bed to discover a little brown critter sitting all comfy at the foot of my bed.  Not realizing what it was at first, I made an audible noise of disgust and flushed the little sucker.  It wasn’t until the following morning that I realized what I’d seen.

Then the panic began.

I Googled BEDBUGS to look at some photos, only to confirm my terrible suspicion.  As I feared, it was, indeed, a Cimex lectularius, a common bedbug.

The cleaning process. I was making sure no bugs sneaked past me.

I read a few articles to get an idea of what I was dealing with, watched a couple of YouTube videos on how to inspect a room for infestation, and put in a call to my exterminator.  Then I began the process of dismantling my bedroom.

I discovered that eradicating bedbugs is a lot like getting rid of fleas or lice.  (Both of which I have done at various times in my parenting career.)  It involves lots of laundry, intense vacuuming, and thorough cleaning.

Our search produced only one live bedbug, so my exterminator seems to think I got off easy.  (Probably just a single stowaway who wasn’t in a family way when he/she hitched a ride to my house.)  Whew.

Now I just have to get over the heebie-jeebies I get every time I walk into my bedroom.  And figure out if I ever intend to use that suitcase again.

As for the cute little saying “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite…” I’m no longer amused.

 Bedbug advice:

  • NEVER place your suitcase on a hotel bed.  Put it on the stand, on the dresser, or if necessary on the bathroom counter to unpack it.
  • Pack plastic garbage bags, and seal your luggage in the bags during your stay.
  • Examine the sheets for small, rust-colored flakes.  (Bedbug poop.)  Or for actual bugs.
  • If you find them in your home, don’t panic.  But do get ready for a boat-load of work to get rid of them.