Monday, January 9, 2012
It's Gonna Be A Happy New Year
We're back from our winter trip and getting back into the swing of things, after spending half of November, half of November and the first little chunk of January away from home. This is probably the only year we'll ever have the freedom of schedule to make such long trips, so I figured, why not take advantage of it? M scheduled research mini-trips both times, so it's not like we didn't get anything done. And Robert had such a good time spending big chunks of quality time with all the people who love him. He came down with Strep on New Year's Eve, which was a terrible bummer, and ended up in the emergency room for an antibiotic shot on New Year's Day when he couldn't swallow the oral ammoxicillin. I suspect that is a billing battle we are going to be tussling over in the future, but for now I'm just happy that it worked and he is so much better. He got a haircut today, but I haven't pinned him down for a picture yet.
One thing about the traveling is that I got totally spoiled over our Christmas time away. My mother in law, Melissa, is a wonderful person and keeps a beautiful house. I really enjoyed the time we spent there, for a lot of reasons, but partly because it's just so nice. It's neat and it's organized, tastefully decorated, always smells pretty. Even with Robert around (not to mention M and I!), nothing ever got too crazy messed-up, and she did it all while still seeming pretty relaxed about it. I aspire to that, seriously! Anyway, when we got home, after all that time away, things were pretty much how we left them, and that was a real letdown for me. I am a shabby housekeeper and our apartment is too small for all our stuff. That is the way it has always been.
But I can change! I've decided to start with small steps. The kitchen was already my project, so I did more in there. I finished more of the cleaning I hadn't yet gotten to, including the really icky places like that spot between the stove and the desk-counter where things fall down and are lost forever, and I swept and mopped and scrubbed the counters and the stove until everything looks great. (Melissa and I did our usual pre-homecoming shopping trip, but instead of the usual grocery staples, this time I got new cleaning supplies. They really help!)
Buoyed by my success in the kitchen, I moved on to a persistent filth-trap in the apartment, the master bathroom. Since the master bathroom, in this case, is a closet off the walk-in closet with a cloth curtain strung from a tension rod as a door, it has historically not gotten a lot of use, especially since the walk-in closet itself is overfull and often littered with dirty clothes waiting for laundry day. It was not only dirty and dusty, it was cluttered with stuff that didn't belong in a bathroom, and really the reason I never used it, even at night, was that it was unpleasant. Simply going in and getting all the trash out, all the empty containers and expired things, the books, the laundry, and everything that didn't belong, right there made a huge difference. The bathroom is so small there's hardly room to turn around, but when it's empty it seems considerably larger. I took my Glass Plus and my 409 and gave all the surfaces a scrub, then did the same to the toilet and swept the floor. Finally, I rearranged the plants I keep in there (the one redeeming virtue of that bathroom has been a counter with a sink underneath four powerful light bulbs, making it ideal for plants), and made sure the handwashing essentials were all in place for a homey look. Just a couple of hours of work, really, and it looks amazing, like new. I like going in there now!
As luck would have it, barely had I finished one bathroom than the other one caught my attention. Robert rubbed a surprising amount of jelly in his hair at breakfast, so M gave him a bath while I did my cleaning and other chores. Robert had been in the bath just a minute or two when I went down the hall to the neighbor to thank her for taking in our papers and to chat for a few minutes. I was surprised when M showed up at the door with a wet, pajamaed Robert and a harried expression. Robert, who had been constipated for several days after being sick, had solved that problem in a big way in the bathtub. Yuck!
Once the worst of the mess was dealt with, I realized that as long as I was scrubbing and disinfecting the bathtub, I might as well take care of the whole bathroom. This bathroom is the one we use, so it has all kinds of stuff in it, and though it gets a lot more of my fickle cleaning attention, it's hard to keep clean. The next morning, while supervising Robert in another bath in the newly cleaned tub, I wiped and scrubbed and tossed trash and put things away. Again, a couple hours of work got me a very nice bathroom. Riding the wave, I cleaned half the living room and vacuumed as well, getting up birdseed and remnants of Robert's past meals before breaking my momentum upon the shoal of a mountain of toys. That's okay, there are more days coming. I will get this place looking better!
The nicest thing about having a clean kitchen is how easy it is to cook. Yesterday I made a giant pot of chili that used three cans of tomatoes, two cans of beans, and a can of tomato sauce. You've seen my pantry in pictures, so you know this is a good thing. Served over potatoes, it was supper last night and tonight, with another full meal's worth in the freezer. Since dinner was taken care of tonight, I looked ahead and defrosted a (rather sad looking, honestly) pot roast from the deep freeze. It was freezer burned, but not so much that it couldn't be saved. I cut off a chunk and chopped it into little pieces, then put it into a marinade of rice wine vinegar and soy sauce. Beef stir fry this week! The rest of it I put into the crock pot for Grandma J's famous pot roast, along with plenty of carrots and potatoes. The resulting deliciousness wasn't done till midnight, but filled two big containers. With the liquid leftover in the pot, I rehydrated two cups of TVP for M's meatloaf sandwiches this week. I shouldn't have to make another serious cooking effort for days, and that's a really nice feeling. I like to give my family good things, whether it's good food or just a nice place to sit on the potty. I just need to keep reminding myself that the pleasure of the results is worth the hard work.