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Posts tagged ‘clean’

The Invasion

I have been invaded. Or maybe I should say, my kitchen has been invaded. The invaders come in swarms, too numerous to count. They make trails, devour anything tasty, and generally make a nuisance of themselves.

In case you haven’t figured out what they are yet, I’m referring to ants.

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Specifically, honey or sugar ants. These little critters love anything sweet, and seem to smell it from wherever their home is and come after it. Leave an empty but unrinsed bowl of cereal in the counter, and in an hour or two it will be teaming with the little critters. Spill a drop of juice or honey on the counter and fail to wipe it up, and soon there will be a trail of ants going to and fro, the drop itself obscured by their little bodies.

Lately, with my diligence to get the dishes done right after meals and leaving the sink spotless before bed, the tiny ants have not had much motivation to come into my kitchen. However, one night recently I was just too tired. I didn’t shine my sink and I didn’t wash all the dishes. When I walked into the kitchen, they were everywhere. Climbing in and out of dirty bowls by the sink, making trails on the walls and counters, and in general making a royal mess. But I had to get breakfast ready, and I was too hungry to wait until I had cleaned up the kitchen to begin. So I cleared an area near the stove to work on and began, trying to ignore the devastation going on behind me.

I took a package of tofu out of the refrigerator and drained it in the sink. I noticed that an edge piece was loose and decided to have a nibble (I love raw tofu). I have no idea how it got there, but suddenly the flavor of honey ant filled my mouth. If you have never tasted it, you have no idea how awful it is. It’s not the kind of taste that makes you gag, but it is extremely unpleasant, and totally unexpected.

Well, I just lost it. Somehow that taste in my mouth–which doesn’t just rinse out, by the way–was the last straw. I was tired, my husband had yet to come into the kitchen yet (I don’t know if he was up yet–probably, but just hadn’t come out yet), and the kids were already up, and ants were crawling all over me, and I just couldn’t take it. I called him to come help. I knew if the kitchen were cleaned up, the ants would disappear, but I had already started breakfast and couldn’t just stop and clean for 15 minutes. I did take a minute to spray a cleaner on the ants (which has a soap in it, smothering them and killing them instantly). My dear husband came in and washed up the dirty dishes and wiped down the dead ants and any other ones he found wandering around the walls or wherever.

I know I had been tired the night before, but honestly, 10 minutes to right the kitchen would have been much less traumatic than eating an ant the next morning! So lesson learned: Make sure the kitchen is clean the night before; and if I don’t really have the energy to wash the supper dishes, at least rinse anything sweet out of them! And take a minute to wipe the counters!

There is another lesson, however. Sometimes we allow things into our lives that seem harmless, or maybe it’s just a little neglect of duty, such as really taking the time to spend quality time with God. It wasn’t some big rebellion, saying “God, I don’t need You. I can do it on my own.” Just little neglect. But suddenly, life becomes overwhelming and we just can’t take it anymore. Everything is out of control, and we realize that we just can’t do it on our own after all. Then we must cry out to our Heavenly Husband to come help us. He will clean up the sin and the mess, and bring peace and harmony back into our lives.

Oh, that I may not neglect those little things!

Well, the title really says it all. But I thought I would just make a brief post to remind any mothers reading this that the car seat really does need to be cleaned once in a while. Especially if you’re like me and just don’t think about it.

We just got a new van, and I thought it would be good to clean the car seats out–even though they’ve been in it already for a few days. So just a few minutes ago I got them out and took them apart, taking off covers, straps, buckles, and all, and throwing them in the washer. Then I dumped the crumbs into the trash and wiped the hard surfaces with a damp rag.

So I thought my son’s seat would be the worst, because I think he threw up in it once (not a lot, but still…). However, most of that had been wiped off the surface. My daughter’s was really the worst, with tons of crumbs in the removable base.

Now I just need to remember how to put them back together again. My son’s seat is a backward/forward facing car seat that goes up to 40 lb. My daughter’s seat is a backward/forward facing car seat/booster seat that goes up to 80 lb and has a whole lot more gadgets than my son’s seat. But I did manage to get everything taken apart that can be taken apart. Too bad my manuals are in storage somewhere in Estacada… when I find them, I’m going to put them into the slots in the seats that say “put manual here”. But I think I can remember how to get them back together. It’s not the first time I’ve done it.

So, in summary, if you haven’t cleaned your car seats for at least six months, then pick a day when you are not going anywhere and take them apart and clean them up. And pay attention to how they came apart so that you can put them back together again. And don’t be afraid to wash the buckles and straps in the washer too.

Now if only I could take the seat belts out of our “new” van and wash them too….

Yesterday I shared about Flylady and how I have begun to establish routines. Today I want to share with you my early morning routine, also known as my before breakfast routine.

Flylady teaches that when you get out of bed in the morning, you should get dressed to the lace-up shoes and make the bed. Because I like to air the bed first–and especially since my husband is often still in it when I rise–I have moved that to a later routine. But I have found it helpful to get dressed and wash my face first thing, right after going to the bathroom (unless I plan on showering, in which case I just put on my shoes, because I don’t have time to shower before breakfast right now). So that is the first step of my routine: Get dressed and wash face. I never used to bother with washing my face, but I’m 31 now, and I think it’s about time I started taking care of it–especially since I recently noticed a couple of lines that I don’t remember being there before. At this point, I have Melaleuca’s Sei Bella facial wash and toner, so I use those. Later I plan on getting more products, like a moisturizer and a facial masque to use once in a while. But for now, I feel like I’m doing something good for my face, so I’m happy.

Then, before I leave the bathroom, I clean it. Yes, every day (except Sabbath). This consists of dampening a rag and wiping down all the surfaces. First, spots on the mirror, then the counter and sink, then the toilet. Then I hang it up to dry. It takes 1-2 minutes, and the bathroom is company-ready. I also take the time to put away brushes and toothpaste tubes or anything else that doesn’t belong on the counter. All that is supposed to be there are two soap dispensers and a container of Gislaine’s hair “thingies” that doesn’t fit in the medicine cabinet and I want to keep out of Manny’s reach (so not in the drawes). I don’t move the latter when I wipe, only the soap dispensers if I see bits of soap near them that need to be wiped up. Then I take the toilet bowl brush and give the bowl a quick 5-second swish.

Now, because I don’t use any soap for this process, once a week, just before hopping in the shower, I clear everything off of the counter and put it in the window, then spray the counter, sink, and all of the toilet with an herbal disinfectant spray. After drying and dressing, the spray has done its job of killing all the bacteria on those surfaces, and I just need to wipe it down (since it has soap in it, I can’t leave it like lysol). I also spray it inside the toilet bowl. Once we move back to well water, I’ll add some of the Tub & Tile cleaner to the toilet bowl to keep down the limescale, but for now, our water is very soft and it never gets any build-up.

The next thing on my list is to empty the dishwasher. Whether it is full from a load I ran the night before, or whether it just has a few bowls or plates from supper, I empty it. That way I don’t have to empty it before washing the dishes. This takes less than 5 minutes max.

The last thing I do is check my to-do list. I have a list on the fridge that lists things that I need to do on specific days of the week, but not necessarily every day, from deep-cleaning the kitchen counters (meaning I move everything and spray down the counters one at a time, instead of just wiping the bare areas) to soaking beans for the next day’s meal. I also add any daily tasks I want to make sure I don’t forget, such as laundry (it’s amazing how easy it is to forget, with the washer and dryer being out in the garage), or anything else I need to remember, like a doctor’s visit or a call I need to make. These I write down on a little dry-erase board on my fridge. When I accomplish a task, I wipe it off. Then I can see what is left. I put dots beside things that I absolutely want to get done today (sometimes a phone call can be postponed, or organizing the garage can wait a few days when the kids are sick), and as I go through the day, I might put lines beside the things I want to focus on next–2 or 3 things to get done before I attempt anything else. Because, well, I have to admit I am a S.H.E–sidetracked home executive–and tend to get started with something, then remember I should be doing something else, then get called by the kids to help with something or change a diaper… so being able to refocus with a glance at my white board is very helpful!

Now, it took quite a bit to describe my morning routine, but it takes much less time to actually do it. Getting dressed and washing face takes 10 minutes if I’m slow. “Swish & swipe” (cleaning the bathroom surfaces and toilet) takes about 2 or 3 minutes. Emptying the dishwasher takes 5 minutes or less, and updating my to-do list takes about 2 or 3 minutes.

And although it’s not officially on my list, I also drink a glass of water while I’m in the kitchen. Then I either have my devotions or start on breakfast, depending on what time it is and when my husband needs to leave.

So that’s my before breakfast routine. It looks like a lot, so I will summarize:

  • Get dressed to the shoes & wash face
  • Swish & Swipe
  • Empty dishwasher
  • Update to-do list

So what do you do before you start breakfast?

Last week I shared how I was tired of the messy office and was determined to do something about it. I worked diligently that afternoon and got things fairly well done, but there were a few minor details that I didn’t have time for. Then I kind of forgot about posting anything, and the New Year rolled around. I kept getting reminded of it one way or another, and so today I finished the last few details (took me maybe 20 minutes) and have taken photos to show you the results. First up is the computer/bookshelf space.

Much better, especially the far right bottom shelf. That became the organized catch-all for office supplies, since we don’t have a neat little drawer with an organizer in it to hide them all. At least they are out of reach of little fingers! Someone put some books and papers up on the shelves closer to the camera, but I’m not going to let them stay there (I just noticed them in the picture after taking it).

Next up, the filing cabinet:

I didn’t do anything about the stacks of paper, because they aren’t mine. But I did move the sort of file of papers in the plastic CD holder (behind the chair now) down from the shelf, where it looked tacky and blocked books. I also move all those books stacked under the desk and put them downstairs.

Here is the other side of the room. I tried to get a better angle on the pictures. You can see that I organized a lot of things, but I still have most of the storage containers. The plastic boxes with lids on the right used to hold patterns; now they are in the cabinet below and the boxes have yarn in them that used to be in a big plastic bag on the other side. Everything has been straightened up an looks nice.

Even though the little man with the curly crown thinks he is the star of the picture, I’m really trying to show the view behind him. The plain box holds craft stuff I should try to sell sometime. The other box holds a lot of stuffing. I will try to find a use for that sometime.

This last picture shows the table and bottom of the window:

I put the green mat away and moved my sewing machines away from the edges (to discourage exploration of them by the littlest member of the house). The shipping scales are being used more right now, so they stay there with tape on top ready for whenever something sells on eBay or Bonanza. In front is a package I need to pack and mail out tomorrow.

So I’d say that’s a pretty good bit of organization done! The nice thing is that most of it was done last week and I’ve been maintaining it since. So I hope to continue that trend. And once the bookcase in the living room is fixed up (sanded and stained) I can move some of the books out there and go through the boxes that are currently neatly stacked up under the desk. Not sure when that will happen, though.

So what have you been decluttering lately? Why not post a link in the comments and share it with us?

After that motivating article I just finished, and the good feeling I got from decluttering the too-small clothes from the kids’ room, I am motivated to do something about the office. Here are some “before” pictures to give you an idea of what needs to be done. I’ll post some “after” pictures when it’s done–not necessarily today, but as soon as I can after I finish. Please say a prayer that I can actually do this!

Some of the shelves are not so bad, but some really need to be organized. The desk is a minor disaster (major would be that the the surface of the desk itself would be invisible–at least you can see parts of it!). That black file cabinet (you can’t see the file drawer in the picture, but it’s the black thing with shelves behind the kitchen chair) needs to be at least organized–stuff off the top, papers sorted inside. The box on the chair has things I’m going to list on eBay during the next couple of days, so it’s not a permanent thing. The blue box below has stuff I listed last night and so it needs to go.

That table is utter chaos. Sure, parts of it are still showing, but still! Also, I need to declutter top of the dresser (at least inside it is okay), and organize those stacks of boxes on top of the other cabinet (which is mostly empty right now. Between the dresser and the white cabinet in the corner is a small bookcase full of stuff that seriously needs to be organized as well. And the box in the window must go!

So check back in a couple of days to see if I’ve finished and posted “after” pictures. If I haven’t, bug me about it, please. And if you’re motivated to declutter your office (assuming it needs it–maybe I’m the only one with a cluttered office right after the holidays), then let me know how it’s going. Especially if you have a blog, then post a link back here. Let’s bring some order into the world!

Almost–but still so much to do!

I planned to take the kids on Thursday, drop them off with a church member who lives about 15 minutes from our new house (and only a couple of miles out of the way from our current place to there), and clean. I knew we would be tracking dirt (and mud, unless it stops raining between now and then, which is highly unlikely). But the bathrooms were filthy. I wanted to clean toilets and showers/tubs and counters at the very least. When I got there, I realized that I also wanted to run a damp mop over all the floors, because there was a very fine powdery sawdust over everything (including the walls, as I soon discovered). It was as if the house had been empty for months, instead of having just been floored this week. I know the dust came from cutting the laminate flooring.

My husband had to be at Home Depot half way to the house by 8:30, so he left a little before 8:00. I was almost ready to go, but had the kids, and one of the car tires had gone flat again (it had been doing that–gradually losing air so that it was basically flat every few weeks). We don’t have an air compressor, so I spent several minutes with the hand pump. I think it was designed to fill bicycle tires. I took breaks to get the kids buckled in their car seats, but I did get 30 or so pounds of air into it.

Then we were off. I had to be in Sandy to pick up my Azure Standard order around 9:00. Sandy, you understand, is over an hour from Beaverton. We left a little after 8:00. It was either meet the delivery truck at the Safeway parking lot, or drive probably another 20 minutes beyond to the other side of Sandy and out into the country to pick up my order later. Not something I was in the mood to do. So I was really hoping to get there on time.

But before I had even gone a mile, I noticed that my windshield was fogging up. No problem. I glanced down to turn on the defrost. But I never got it turned on.  When I looked up again, I realized that I was about to crash into the car in front of me! I slammed on the breaks, but there just wasn’t time. Fortunately I was only going 2 or 3 miles an hour when I hit, so there were no injuries at all. It was barely a bump. But my hood crumpled into an upside-down V. I wish I’d had a camera to take a picture. The bumper was made of cheap plastic and styrofoam, and it crumpled up over the hood, effectively making it impossible to open the hood. I sat there thinking, “How can this be happening?” for a moment, then pulled off to the nearby side road to exchange information with the other driver.

Fortunately, she had a better vehicle than I did–some kind of small SUV, I think. Anyhow, even though her bumper was plastic too, it was heavier-duty than mine, and it only had two tiny scratches on it. She took my insurance and gave me her phone number, but she said she wouldn’t report me unless something started to fall apart on the car (which is highly unlikely). She said she had just gotten a ticket off her record, so she could understand why I wouldn’t want this to go on my record either! Which was very sweet of her.

So here I was, a mile from home, an hour from where I needed to be, with a bent hood. I had calmed down a bit (though still shaking from the adrenalin rush), and looked over the situation. The highest point on my hood was only 5 or 6 inches above where it was supposed to be (that would be the peak of the bend). I could see underneath. Behind the bumper is a very sturdy metal frame, to which we had attached a tow-bar to tow the car from Texas a year and a half before. This appeared undamaged. The radiator behind the metal frame also appeared undamaged. In the few minutes I had been there, not one drip of anything had landed under the car. As the lady drove off, I said a prayer. “Lord, You know my plans for today. I’ll give them up if I need to, but maybe it’s okay to continue. Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to drive around the block. If everything seems okay, I’ll continue on. If not, I’ll turn around and drive home.”

So I did. I had turned off the main road into a neighborhood, so I drove down to the first intersection, took a right (heading towards home), and then took another right (heading back towards the road where I had had the accident to begin with). On the way I watched my gauges closely, and also took my hands off the wheel briefly to check the alignment. Everything seemed fine. So I got back on the main road, heading away from home now, and continued on my way.

I had not one problem the whole way. I got to Sandy before the delivery truck was done unloading and picked up my order. They were still unloading when I left. I dropped the kids off with our friend, gave her instructions on what and how to feed Manny (since he’s on a special diet), and headed to the house.

The first thing I did there was tell my husband what had happened. He said he had sensed something was going to happen, and he took it as well as could be expected. Then he went to the Mexican guys that were finishing up installing the laminate flooring and asked them, “Would you like to buy our car?” In the end, we gave it to them, partly as a bonus for all the hard work they had done (and hadn’t been paid as much as they would have liked to, but they were nice enough to do it for less). The car wasn’t worth much–we had toyed with selling it on Craigslist for $500 a month or two ago, but had decided to wait.

So now we’re going to be in the country down to one car. Sigh. At least my husband is only going to be working 4 days a week, so I’ll have Fridays to do orthodontic appointments, doctors appointments, shopping if I don’t do it on Sundays… And since we want more kids, we’ll just get a minivan sometime later. We’ll watch for one and see what we can do about saving for one.

But this was supposed to be about the house! Well, the painting is all done. There are a few spots that could use a touch up (where the paint was a tad thin), but I’m not worried about those. We have all the paint cans and tools, so if those spots don’t end up getting covered by furniture or pictures, I’ll touch them up when I get a chance. The flooring is in upstairs and in the living room. Our bedroom is so gorgeous! I can’t wait to get the bed in there, with the bedspread matching the trim around the windows, and make some curtains out of this gauzy fabric I have somewhere in my sewing stuff.

I got our shower really nice and clean. Most of the dirty soap scum is gone–the rest I’ll get a little at a time over the next few weeks. I soaked the toilet with vinegar, and now everything below water level looks new. After we move in and have paper towels (I didn’t have those with me, for some reason), I’ll soak paper towels in vinegar and drape them around the inside of the bowl and leave to soak for a while, then take them out and wipe it down. That should cut most of the water stain. If that doesn’t work, I’ll get a pumice stone and scrub it.

The children’s bathroom upstairs (which opens to the hall, unlike the master bathroom, which is accessed through the master bedroom) is fairly clean, except there were a bunch of paint buckets in the corner by the toilet, and I didn’t move them. But the tub would not get clean. I tried two powerful chemical cleaners on it, but neither one did much. The textured floor of the tub just would NOT come clean. Remember the picture from my previous update? Well, it doesn’t look much better yet. I didn’t even get to the sliding glass doors!

But I did damp mop the whole upstairs floor. My husband needed my help before I could get to the living room floor. I didn’t even plan on doing the kitchen yet, because it’s got a bunch of painting equipment and laminate floor scraps laying around in it.

My husband had rented a U-haul truck to take away the trash (old carpet and other junk) to the dump. It was over a ton of stuff, thanks to most of the old carpet having gotten soaked in the rain! He unloaded the whole thing by himself! Then he took the truck over to Sears to pick up our washer, dryer, freezer, and wall oven. When he got there, I helped him back down the driveway so that we could unload it.

I should clarify something here. We have a very steep driveway. I’m not sure of the angle, but it’s VERY STEEP in spots. There is maybe 40 or 50 feet (total guess-I haven’t measured it) of pavement coming down from the road. Then to the left (as you enter) is the house, with parking in front of the house and between the house and the road. There is some gravel in this area, but not enough. It’s been raining almost every day for the past couple of weeks, so the ground is absolutely saturated. Think MUD.

By burge5000 on Flickr

Okay, not quite that bad–yet! There is some gravel, rocks, leaves, twigs, etc, to give it a bit more structure. But I did slip a time or two.

Below the pavement, continuing on down the hill past the house is the rest of the driveway, leading down to a slab of concrete that used to be a shed near the bottom of the property. The road turns to the left, leveling out some as it crosses the width of the property, then goes down to the concrete slab. Here’s a picture from Google Maps that might help you grasp the concept.

After the truck had been filled with junk, my husband tried to turn it around to drive straight out. But he went down the driveway and got the back tires (back wheel drive) off the pavement, and then he couldn’t get it going again, because it was too muddy and steep. He drove down the hill and around the first bend, where it was less muddy and fairly flat, and tried to get going from there, but he either couldn’t turn tight enough (thereby risking crashing into a tree on side of the road) or turned too tight and got into the really muddy spot on the other side of the road. He finally got it straight enough, but he just couldn’t get it going fast enough to get up to the pavement again (backwards, remember), so finally one of the Mexican guys helped him. He wasn’t afraid to spin the tires if he was moving (spinning in place is another story!), but even then it took him several tries to get up to the pavement! Then he backed it into the parking area, and Rafael drove it straight out of the driveway. We were determined not to repeat this again, especially since later there would be no one to help us! Not to mention that it wasn’t raining the first time, but it was later.

The other thing I must clarify is that my husband, although very talented in many areas, cannot back up without looking over his shoulder. This handicaps him when driving big trucks like U-hauls. I learned to back up using mirrors only when I was 19, a few months after getting my license, but my husband was not about to let me drive the rental truck (after the morning’s accident I don’t blame him), so I stood out in the rain and directed his every move. I used my hands to represent which way to turn the wheels, since both he and I get right and left mixed up very badly (I’ve heard there’s a gene for that!). I had him back up onto the road (since he had driven in nose first again), turn around, and drive into the driveway across the road, then back across the road (which was really not straight across but slightly to the side) and down the driveway. Whenever cars came up, I stopped them or directed them around us. I was wearing bright yellow cleaning gloves and a white shirt, so I made a fairly visible object in spite of the rain. It was a kind of powerful feeling, realizing that everyone was doing exactly as I directed. That included my husband! So I got him backed down and turned in such a way that the back of the truck more or less faced the house, and the back tires, though not on pavement, were on a good bit of gravel, not in mud! He was low enough that we were able to leave the truck and drive the car out when we were finished.

Then the two of us unloaded the appliances. We started with the washer. It is a 4 cu. ft. Samsung Washer. We got it on sale. The salesman said we could wash a king-sized bedspread in it. That means I’ll be able to do fewer loads of laundry. Very nice. And it’s high efficiency, meaning I’ll save water and electricity (and detergent, too!). We got the matching dryer. That washer was so big and heavy! We had to take it out of the box (or rather, the box off it) to get it through the doors into the house and the downstairs room, and we’ll have to take the door leading from the downstairs bedroom off the frame to get it into the laundry room! At least we won’t have to take the frame off! I don’t know how we got that washer in by ourselves, but we did. My husband did most of it, but I think he couldn’t have done it by himself. I’m glad I’ve been doing my exercises!

After getting the washer and dryer into the downstairs bedroom, we had to get the freezer in. Now, freezer is an upright, not very tall (box is about my height), but not short either. We decided to take it up the parking area between the road and the house (since it was graveled and kind of like a ramp), up the two steps onto the back “porch” (just a landing, really), in the door, up the two steps to the living room, across the living room, and down the 4 stairs to the kitchen (there are a lot of levels in this house!). So we did. It wasn’t as heavy as the washer, so we were able to pull it up the stairs. To get it down the stairs, we laid it on its back and slid it down carefully. Then we moved it over to near where it’s going to go (but the slot is full of stuff, so we just left it in the middle of the dining room floor).

Then we brought in the wall oven. This one we just hauled up the front steps and into the house. It wasn’t very heavy, compared to all the other stuff, and we had it on a dolly, so it was really pretty easy. We double checked measurements and determined that we will have to cut the cabinet opening to get it in, but there is more than enough room, so we’re okay.

So… My husband is out there today installing the oven (and maybe the freezer) and cleaning things up. We’re going to move in on Sunday.

So I’m worn out and sore today. Not motivated to do anything. Anyone wanna come help me? 😉