Wednesday, December 29, 2010

How To... Clean Up Your House

So, Christmas has come and gone and in the space of about 4 days, my house has gone from 'we're expecting 20 people for Christmas dinner so the house better be clean' to 'Andrew has repeatedly told me to relax, don't worry about the mess. We'll clean it later.'

You know, we've been married for 6 years now, so my hubby knows a lot about me, but I guess he still hasn't figured out that it's the mess that stresses me out. When I see stuff laying around, and dishes piled up on the counter, and recycling piling up next to the front door, and toys strewn about the house... how can anyone kick back with a book on the couch surrounded by such chaos and be expected to relax? Now granted... I'm not the tidiest person in the world. But I'm definitely starting to feel the effects of 4 days without tidying up. So, I thought I'd do a little blog post about how to handle the post holiday clean up.

Step One: Gather your supplies.

For me this includes a garbage bag for garbage and items that can't be salvaged, and a box for items that I want to donate. depending on the room, I also have a vacuum cleaner, a swiffer and mop, and an all purpose green cleaner and cloth. I also have a huge glass of water with me. Cleaning makes me thirsty. Now put on some Tunes.

Step Two: Pick a room and start there.

I'm choosing to start with my living room because that's where I'm sitting at the moment. Survey the room and take in the mess. Then open all the windows. A cool room motivates me to clean faster and the fresh air is invigorating.

Step Three: Remove things that don't belong.

As I look around my living room, I can see laundry piled up on the corner of the couch, my Christmas craft project that I didn't finish in time for Christmas, dishes from breakfast, an air mattress, and packing material from opened Christmas presents. It's time to move all these items out of the living room and put them where they belong.

Step Four: Put away the things that do belong.

I can see toys strewn about the floor, DVDs that need to go back on the shelf. I have already made a mental note of the toys which will be going into the donation box. The boys were so blessed this year and received so many wonderful new toys. However, we have a little rule that we can only keep so many toys that can fit in our two toy shelves, so some things need to go.
You could stop now, and you'd have a 'tidy' house with everything in it's place. But we're going for a CLEAN house, so it's time to bust out the cleaner.

Step Five: Break out the green cleaner.

At this point, you should have clear floors, shelves, and seating area. Now, it's time to clean any messes you might have missed. Rueben has a penchant for dumping out his milk, and I don't always catch all his little spills. He also decided to draw all over the wall last week so it's those things that we need to clean now. Cleaning tip: If all else fails, use a baby wet wipe. Those pencil crayon marks came right off the wall with a wet wipe, some baking soda and a little elbow grease.

Step Six: Clean the floor.

Nothing says clean like a sparkling floor. Even in my messy house, if all I do is mop the floor, my house looks ten times cleaner. So that's the last step for me. In the living room we have an area rug, so if I just want to do an OK job, I vacuum. If I want to do a good job, I roll up the carpet and sweep under the rug. If I want to do an amazing job, I'll move the couches too. oh look, more toys to put away!

Step Seven: Repeat then relax.

Depending on how long it's taken me to do all those steps above, and how much time I have left before Andrew comes home with the boys, I might tackle another major room like the kitchen, or do a few less messy rooms, like the library and the dinning room. Afterwards, I brew a fresh cup of coffee, shower (all that cleaning is like a workout you know!) and plop down on the couch with my current read.

See, I went from this:

To this:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Nativity Song

Outerspace is out of space

I snuggled in with Ethan tonight at bedtime and began our nightly ritual of the bedtime story. The ritual began for us when Ethan was 2. I was pregnant with Rueben at the time and so we knew we would be needing to move Ethan out of the crib. We had taken one side of the rails off so he was using it as a sort of daybed. Thanks to the kindness of family, Ethan received brand new bunk beds for Christmas and it was finally convenient for me to lay down with Ethan and read to him at bedtime.

I really cherish the bedtime story. It gives us a chance to not only read a book (or books) together but to reflect on our day, talk about our adventures, and for me, to become more enlightened in the philosophies of the four year old boy. Tonight was no exception.

We pulled two books from his younger days off the shelf; 'Neighbourhood Numbers' and 'Mama and Me', both of which are baby Einstein books and have great rhythm and pictures. We got up to 8 which tells us that there are eight lighted windows in eight houses and eight stars in the sky. Well this led to a very interesting conversation about the universe and 'out of space' as Ethan calls it. He declared "I know a lot about Earth". He knew about oceans and mountains, rivers and trees and roads. He knew the sun was in the sky and the moon was in the sky and the stars to which I agreed and said yes, they are all in outer space. "No, they're not mom. At nighttime, the sun goes behind the walls of the earth. In the daytime, the sun blasts through the walls of the earth". So I now have a picture of what the concept of 'outer space' is to a four year old. It seems very obvious to him that the blue sky that we see overhead and which meets the earth at the horizon is like a wall. And the sun goes behind it at night when it's dark, and then bursts through it during the day when it's light. It makes sense.

We then move on to 'Mama and Me' which is a great little book about animal babes and moms. Each page begins "I am a baby (duck for example)" with a series of familial facts about how it interacts with it's mom. "I'm a good swimmer already, but my mommy leads the way. She knows the best places to swim". Each page also has real life photography of each animal. It's a great little book to get a conversation going. Ethan wanted to know what the tigers ate. Um, well, they eat smaller animals. "like ducks?" ah, sure. "What do ducks eat?" um, bugs and plants that they find... "what do bears eat?" berries and fish "Fish, eww, yuck!" you love fish!!! "eww, no I don't" you know all that sushi you love to eat... that's fish. "oh". Then he announced that his favorite animal is a giraffe because of their long necks, and mine is an elephant because of their trunks, and Rueben's is a jaggerbafersaul (um... a what?), oh mom, it's like a kind of dinosaur. What do dinosaurs eat?" hmm, how to proceed... well, some dinosaurs ate plants and some ate smaller dinosaurs, but that was a loooong time ago. They don't live on the earth anymore. "did they move into out-of-space?" I love how his brain works. And I look forward to many more enlightening conversations with him.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The problem with baking cookies...

Is that someone HAS to eat them!
Check out for the recipe.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


You know, I said I wouldn't. I even made a list of other things to do so I wouldn't fall into this trap. I've started another craft project. I hang my head in shame while blaming Jill from the awesome blog Homemadebyjill. That's right... I take no responsibility for what happened. You just mosey on over to her blog and just try to not think about making all those super cute things that she cranks out. You just try.

So, she decided to do a 'sew-along' with her blog readers. The cutest little felt advent Christmas tree calendar would be the result of 4 weeks of sewing assignments. Well, I started a week late, and if you know me and crafts, I tend to start off gangbusters and crash and burn towards the end. I have 12 felt ornaments done, the tree is cut out but needs to be sewn to the backing piece, all my pockets are cut and stitched with the 24 numbers leading up to Christmas, but they too need to be stitched to the backing. I will post some pictures once I have something substantial to show.

I was really optimistic with this one, that I'd be able to get it done in time. Ah well.