Sunday, January 29, 2012

J-Lo Glow

I spent the weekend working for Bobbi Brown (no, not the crazy ex-celebrity who does drugs with Whitney Houston) and I once again remembered how much I love dewy skin. I mean, It's just so pretty.  And youthful. Young, beautiful women do not have a matte complexion.  Of course not. Not unless they are doing a thing where they try to look terrible. You know, Blue Steel for their cool friends. Let's face it, these young girls have everything going for them in terms of their looks.  It's as good as it's going to get for them, but sadly they're idiots. We love them, but they're just idiots.  We, on the other hand, are not idiots any more, we just mostly look like crap unless we pay attention. They can't help being stupid, and we can't help getting ugly. So we advise them to grow up, try to learn from their mistakes, think about someone besides themselves, try to see that the world is a very big place and they are not such a big deal.  And if they spent any time thinking about us at all (which they don't, of course) they would think to say, "dude, you look sallow, your eyes look like skeletor and why are you so pale?".

So here's what I think.  They could learn a few things about functioning as productive members of the adult world (the one that does not revolve around them) and we could learn a few things about moisturizing. And blush. My brother once said one of my favorite things ever. Everyone gains experience at the same rate:  One day, per day. I love it.  I stole it and I am currently killing it with overuse. You know how all 18 year olds think they are more mature than all of the other 18 year olds?  We think it's funny because we know this little truth.  The great thing about our situation is that we don't have to wait all of these years to find what we need.  All we have to do is go to the department store and buy some decent products. We can do that this afternoon.

Here's what I recommend (and you should listen to me because I'm a professional).  Get a good moisturizer and eye cream.  Take care of your skin--you are not getting any younger and if your skin looks like death, no amount of foundation is going to help you.  Great skin is the key to the whole operation. Foundation is to even out skin tone, it is not meant to cover up all of your problems.  I mean think about it.  When you see someone with bad skin and a ton of foundation do you think it looks good, or does it just look like a ton of foundation on top of bad skin.  Now you have two problems instead of one.  And for Heaven's sake, put on some blush!  It's youthful and fresh and awesome. Look at your daughter. She has this rosy little flush in her cheeks.  We have lost that and it is not coming back.  Stop waiting around for it, it's gone, but for the love of all that is holy, there are pioneers and they have made fire.  It's called blush.  Just say thank you and WEAR IT!! And I cannot begin to say enough about under eye concealer.  If you know about it, you know just what I mean.  If you don't, go directly to Nordstrom with $50 and get corrector and concealer from the Bobbi Brown counter.  Just take my word for it.  It's worth every penny. I have played with them all and this one is the best. The eyes are the windows to the soul, and brightening up those eyes cleans the windows. Again, no amount of shimmer shadow is going to compensate for the dark circles you got goin' on under there! If you want to look awake and healthy and rested, you have no excuse. If not, then by all means go on looking as tired as you are.

More on this I'm sure.  Make-up is one of the things I could talk about all day.  For now though, think about it.  Dewy skin.  It's so hot right now.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Laundry (Part 2)

Okay, so I finally had to stop and admit, this is not working.  Tell the truth.  I cannot get this job done. I cannot "stay on top of the laundry" with any lasting success. If I really focus and hold myself accountable and do it right, I can maintain the system for a little while, but life and imperfection worm their way in and eventually it breaks down. I'm exhausted and spent and yet there is still laundry everywhere. It's me against the system and the system wins. Ideally I will get myself together and implement this system better. I really like clean, neatly folded things just where I need them. But realistically I am not able to uphold this perfect standard. Realistically what I know about myself (and this might be different for you than it is for me) is that I will wash and dry the clothes pretty consistently, but everything will go to hell in the folding and putting away.  So If I want the system to work for me instead of the other way around, I have to set the system up so that it accommodates this human frailty (I've said this before and I will likely say it again--I enjoy it).  Of course I have to be ready to admit that I have some human frailty, and that is unfortunately, easier said than done. I have to be ready to say it out loud to myself and what's worse, there is a chance that someone else might see it too.

So what I came to was an extension of the whole idea we talked about before with the mail and the batteries and the Barbie shoes. It's one of my favorite little nuggets--Everything Needs a Home.  Most of us can identify where the things should go. Mostly, things do have a home.  For the laundry, the homes are the dressers, the linen cosets, the hall cabinets, etc.  But the next thing I found with the mail was that there also needed to be a home for things that can't be in their home right now! Realistically I am not able (or willing) to always put things in their homes--their homes are all over the house, and I'm mostly in my kitchen. There needs to be a convenient place to put things temporarily when you aren't perfectly running the system. For the laundry this meant having a place to put clean, unfolded clothes besides ON MY BEDROOM FLOOR. When I don't have time to fold, the laundry can still be tidy.  And then I also needed a place to put laundry when it was folded but not put away so that it would not be in baskets ALL OVER MY HOUSE.  

I decided to set up a laundry system in a central location that allows me to work on the laundry as it is convenient for me and so that whenever I need to walk away, the laundry would have a home. I wash the laundry--home is the washing machine. I dry the laundry--home is the dryer.  I pull it out into a basket--home is a Costco shelf with room for several baskets of clean unfolded laundry (you may need more, you may need less). Oh and PS, those baskets on the bottom are for crap I don't know what to do with and the one's on the top are for crap that needs to go into storage or the Goodwill.

I sort the laundry.  This is really where the system starts to change your life. What I figured out is that you sort the laundry anyway.  You just sort it after you fold it. This leaves you with exposed piles that must be addressed immediately.  You run the risk of these piles, that represent work already expended, getting unfolded.  You work fast or you've wasted your time! In this system you sort first. Not into unmarked piles on your living room floor and couch and coffee table, but into marked piles, that have homes! These piles are baskets on shelves (I really love bins, shelves and hooks. I cannot imagine the chaos I would have to endure without them!).

My sister-in-law, who does everything pretty, labels hers with her scroll-y little handwriting.  So this sorting doesn't take any longer than it took when you were putting folded cloths into piles, it just requires less delicacy. You can literally toss clothes into their baskets. Baskets that are in homes. Homes that are not your floor or your couch. I find that you can sort a load this way in a couple minutes.  And then, if you want to, you can WALK AWAY. Go to the bathroom, eat a cookie, or kiss your baby.  Whatever you want, whenever you want and your piles are safe and tidy on a shelf in a central place. Note: This central place has not always been in my laundry room. It has mostly been in my bedroom for lack of space. I have so many things to say in response to the objections you are having about that:) but I must go on.

Now this is key for those of you who are scoffing at my system saying "so you just have wrinkled clothes?" YOU ARE WELCOME TO FOLD THE LAUNDRY!! In fact, it has already been sorted for you, so now it's even neater.  Grab the basket of your daughter's clothes and fold them. All at once.  If you can, and have the inclination, you can even go right now and put them in their home--her dresser. It's pretty nice because you are dealing categorically so the bites are already organized and the chaos is already limited.  Also, I would challenge you to be honest with yourself about how often you have unfolded, wrinkled clothes right now.  If you are like me, probably a lot of the time, but you don't have to admit it because it is circumstantial, so you continue telling yourself that you prefer neatly folded clothes while you live with laundry all over your house and a small pit of anger brewing just below the surface. 

Also, if you have older children this system allows them to be so much more useful.  My 8 year old can sort clothes easily.  She is capable of identifying whose clothes belong to whom. She is not so skilled at doing the retail fold on her father's shirts (he is a meticulous man).  She also can't really fold the towels the way I like, but she can throw them into a basket for me that sits nicely on a shelf in my laundry center. My 10 year old can even push things through the washer and dryer.  The older they get, the better this gets. And best of all, they can now be in charge of their own stuff without having to get involved in everyone else's stuff. They know where their clothes are and they can fold them and put them way themselves--or not.  Whatever you like. I don't have to wait until they are old enough to be capable of laundry.  My four year old knows which baskets are his and he putters down there to get dressed.  In fact, I have found that I don't even bother with folding and putting away the kids clothes at all (but you are welcome to).

This system has had some additional benefits that I didn't even foresee. I HATED all of the clothes in their rooms all over the floor.  The kids are no good at cleaning.  If you have any, you know this. Just when I think the house is all tidy I go into their room and there is stuff everywhere, and a good bit of it was their clothes. I mean I have a hard time putting clothes away after I've worn them, and I care what my room looks like! What are the chances my kid is going to do it? This system keeps the clothes nicely organized in a central place where all of the cleaning and sorting and folding happens (or not). In my house the kids have to earn the right to take their clothes into their rooms and have them in their dressers.  Its a privilege.  When they show me that they can keep them tidy and put them away in their homes, they get to start taking their clothes from their baskets and putting them in their dressers. My little boys don't even have dressers--we aren't anywhere near this.  My 8 year old also prefers to keep her clothes in the laundry baskets because she doesn't want to deal with picking them up in her room. So yes, in my house there are unfolded clothes all of the time. This is my house, this is my reality. You have to find your own. I get to decide which things I care about being folded and which things don't matter so much.  I do it all as it is convenient for me and in the meantime the laundry has a home and it is literally NEVER on my living room floor.  I can actually say that.  It has been 6 years since I started doing laundry this way and it has been 6 years since I have dealt with laundry on the floor and on my bed and on my couch. I can't even express to you the way that this system has changed my life.  In all honesty I rarely give the laundry much thought. It went from being on the top of the list of recurring, relentless responsibilities (with food preparation and dishes) to being one of the background household tasks.  Every couple of days I spend some time down there sorting and folding the things that I really care about, but I can spend time on it as I want to, when I want to, for as long as I want to and walk away at any moment leaving the laundry organized, tidy and in a home. It's not perfect. I do have some clothes that end up wrinkled, there are a lot of shelves and baskets that have often been the extent of the decorating in my bedroom, and sometimes I get away with murder and stuff doesn't get taken care of as soon as it might (hence that basket of crap in the photo above) but the system works for me--I'm not a slave. It's not supposed to be perfect, it's supposed to be realistic. And my house gets to be tidy in the meantime. And organized. Which are my favorite. And I get to do laundry when I want to instead of because I have to. 

I felt compelled to share this with you.  It feels irresponsible to know about this and not tell anyone! Maybe you have something like this going on in your home already, maybe you are wondering why I think this is such a big deal and maybe this isn't a problem for you.  Please just ignore me and go on with your lives. Don't mind my little corner of the internet. It was such a huge problem for me and if there is a society of women who already have this answer, they were keeping it to themselves.  I was breaking and all of the help I could find--and there are an unprecedented number of answers--had to do with some version of keeping the old system and just doing it better.  I just don't think that works. At least it didn't for me.  I think the system itself is flawed because it demands perfection. This new system has unleashed a freedom in housekeeping across the board that I simply cannot quantify. The laundry is so big that freeing up this time and getting that crap out of my living space has left so much room in my life and in my head!  I clock out at night when the kids go down.  Is everything done?  No, not really, I can think of a plethora  of things I could do, but I don't have to in order to stay afloat.  My eyes aren't twitching and I'm not somewhere in Tuscany inside my head.  I'm in my own little living room with my own husband drinking a glass of 14 Hands that I picked up at Costco (you know, where they sell amazing shelves for a great price) and I'm about to start watching Project Runway.  There will be no laundry joining us. Not any more.

You may be thinking wow, that's it?  That's all you got?  Yep, that's it.  You waited days for it and that's it. If, like me however, this idea rocked your world and threatens to alter your very existence and you want to talk about it, you're in luck.  I LOVE to talk about it.  It's right up there with things like paint colors, clothes, skincare, and food.  There are so many more things to say about it (what if I don't have room for these shelves? What about dirty laundry? Won't this cost a lot of money to get set up? Won't this make packing and unpacking absolutely AMAZING??)  I'd love to say them all.  I like to say all the things. One of my friends reminded me of how many things I have to say about minivans, and I can go on for days about whole grains and cream blush. But we don't have to be done here if you don't want to. It's just coffee, there's always more.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Laundry (Part 1)

Lets talk about the laundry.  It is, I think, the number one, universal, overarching problem of the housewife. You may be able to live with little piles on your counters and clothes on the floor by your bed, but simply cannot abide finger prints on the mirrors and windows. You may have thrown up in your mouth when I mentioned the beginnings of a ring in the toilet, but shoes and books laying around in the living room you barely notice. We all, however, are buried in the laundry. If you aren't buried in the laundry there are only three possibilities.  1) You don't have enough people in your house yet.  Just wait. 2) You are in fact, the superwoman we spoke of before (and like I said in the last post, you really have more important things to do than hang out here with non-supers), or 3) you're a liar. Oh wait, four choices. 4) you really don't mind "living in a hovel" (another little Jacob nugget which is now part of the family vocabulary). Really, this conversation is for those of us who know it isn't working and are either ready to give up or already have.

It comes down to this: all of the fabric in all of the world gets dirty.  It does it all of the time in all of the ways no matter how hard we fight against it. And these dirty things must be washed.  I want to insert how grateful I am for the invention of the washing machine, because before this machine the laundry problem was so unsolvable that humans all just agreed to be dirty. Let's assume that we all prefer to have clean stuff.  So since the invention of the washing machine (and the subsequent freedom to start wearing more things more often) there is a universally accepted system in place. We wash our items and dry them in these wonderful machines, fold them and then put them into their homes which are located all over the house.  The system is perfect.  It allows you to have clean, neatly folded things just exactly where you need them.

Now at this crucial time in my life when I began to re-evaluate this system, here is what this whole routine actually looked like.  I could push clothes through the washer and dryer without too much trouble, but after a couple of loads they started coming out the other end much faster than I could fold them and put them away.  So I would start working off my beloved hind end folding the clothes and sorting them into piles--Lucy's pile of shirts, Lucy's pile of bottoms, Lucy's underwear, Greta's piles , Jake's piles, My piles, towel piles, cleaning rag piles, etc.,  etc., piles to the ends of the earth--or at least to the end of the room. Now at this point a toddler wanders in and wants to "help" and trips over a couple piles or starts grabbing folded piles and I start scrambling to protect my work without verbally abusing my little darling. Or another of my adorable little bundles of joy falls down the stairs and splits her lip open, or she hits her sister, or poops in her pants. Or instead, how about lets say I would wait until nap time to avoid this little scene.

Let me inject a little something about nap time here first. It's the most coveted moment of the entire day for a housewife.  The 1 1/2 to 2 precious hours in which I can do whatever I want to do without having anyone else to take care of or to come along behind me undoing everything I do.  Hmmm.  You might think I would read a book, get online and look at handbags, enjoy an entire cup of coffee without interruption while finally pouring over the new InStyle magazine, or have a little nap because I likely slept no more than 5 hours last night.  You would be silly. This time quickly becomes time used for pounding out work that I can't get done with little guys hanging on my legs and needing things and working against me.  Also it's time I can do that stuff without feeling guilty about how I would prefer, really, to be doing it than reading stories to my kids in the middle of it. You know, clean a bathroom, or put away the toys and stuffed animals and shoes and coloring crayons and papers on my desk, blah blah blah (see my previous post for more on that) so that I can spend two seconds of the day enjoying the way my living room is supposed to look and feel because I've spent so much of myself making it beautiful just the away I like it.  It's also time I might use for taking a shower or getting in a workout, or calling my mother who wonders if I love her because I never call her. Or paying bills, or in all honesty probably folding the laundry.

So I waited for this precious time and now it's been decided that I will spend it folding laundry.  I do, and I even put most of it away, but there are napping babies in some of the rooms so those things stay folded in the baskets waiting to be put away when they wake up. Also, my mom called so I talked to her while I folded, and I was a little distracted so I didn't quite put away some of the other things either, so there are some "folded laundry" baskets hanging out in various places--mostly my bedroom or the hall. Or maybe today I decided to take a shower and dust the bookshelves and get a marinade going for the pork and didn't fold at all, so there are also baskets of clean unfolded clothes hanging out waiting for the system to do it's job--probably also in my bedroom or worse, in the living room. I blink my eye and the little ones are awake and it's time to make dinner and daddy's almost home, and I need some wine, badly. And besides, I can fold laundry when the kids go to sleep tonight while we watch tv.  Awesome.  I will just keep working until I go to sleep and then I can wake up tomorrow to find that everyone wore clothes yesterday and someone had the gall to take a shower and there were some spills, and lo and behold there is more laundry. Also, I never did put the folded clothes away (because those darn kids are in there sleeping again) so this new day finds me digging through the folded clothes in the basket undoing what I spent my ever-so-valuable 2 hours doing yesterday.

My conclusions are that I am not doing a good enough job on the laundry and I need to get organized. I read some books and blogs and flog myself and vow to do better.  I will either commit to doing a load or two every day so that it never piles up, or I will set aside one day every week for nothing but laundry.  I will put in movies and have snacks and have no expectations for anything else and it will be fun, right?

Well, the "every day" commitment goes out the window almost immediately because we had to get out the door for a dentist appointment, or we went to my friends for a play date or heaven forbid we went on vacation, and now we're just screwed--laundry for days.  And really, same for the once per week. It comes around astonishingly often, and I was really hoping to still get to be a person. Furthermore, eventually your family is big enough that you almost can't do it all in one day. We go on muddling through with some combination of these two approaches and the reality is, laundry is the millstone around our necks--pulling us ever downward, slowing our step and killing our spirit.

Really, I've talked this much already? There's so much more to say! Please don't go, stay for another cup? Jacob, my man of few words, tells me that although he thinks I'm enchanting, I should write the rest tomorrow.  I suspect he would also get really bored if he were chatting away about this in my living room (actually I've tested this theory and he does), but I take his word for it.  He's a wise man.  I do talk way too much as a general rule.  I guess I'll let you go, but come back.  I still have to tell you what this led to.  I've now talked about it for three days without telling you what it is, so of course there's no way it will ever deliver on your expectations, but whatever.  We can't all be concise talkers. I like to think it's part of my charm. Tomorrow, I promise, The Laundry System. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Idealistic vs. Realistic

I promise I am not planning to talk every day.  I just have a few things that have been in my head for awhile, it turns out I'm excited to talk about them. Jenny Anne is usually right and I don't have any trouble admitting it. Also, I really like talking and once I start it's tough to stop.  Remember, this is not for you, it's for posterity:)

Idealistic vs Realistic. This is the heart of what I believe about housekeeping (and homemaking and parenting and pretty much everything).  It's my little sound bite that I use with myself when I'm trying to figure out how to keep a lid on stuff and it isn't working. It's really about telling the truth more than anything else, which we all know is harder than it sounds. If you are realistically doing a fabulous job over at your house and you have no complaints about how your system is working, you should go away. Superwoman should be saving the world not reading my blog and I don't like to hang out with liars. They can't have my coffee. So here's what I used to do. I used to look at the pile of mail on my desk and say to myself "you need to go through that and put it away".  If I did it immediately it was no big deal.  Couple stuff for the trash, couple stuff for the filing drawer, a few things for the bills slot and boom. Done. (By the way "couple stuff" is for reals.  My husband made that happen and I love him for it.).  Unfortunately, when I remembered the mail on my desk I was doing something else right then like making peanut butter and jelly or talking on the phone, or peeing with the door open so that the kids wouldn't beat on it and cry.  Anyway, it wouldn't happen or the trash part would happen but the little stack of "to be filed" was added to another one and put next to four Playmobile guys, a bobby pin, 3 batteries (I still don't know if they are old or new), Barbie's mismatched shoes that need to go upstairs to the girls room and some receipts out of Jacob's wallet. You know the drill. We have all determined to do better about staying on top of it.  We have all been to the websites and read the books that promise to help us "stay organized" and show us how to break our overwhelming job into little bite sized pieces that if we can just stick with it will result in order and Peace on Earth and the Joy of The Lord.

Let me back up.  I am not a very good housekeeper.  Remember fun, fun, fun? How can I have fun, fun, fun if I'm cleaning?  Also, I am set up to be pretty resentful when it won't stay that way because I was basically pretty resentful that I had to do it in the first place. It's isn't fun. Or social.  Enter having four kids and you just have to wonder what we were thinking. Anyway, what I care about is being tidy and organized. If the room is pretty and the surfaces are tidy and stuff is nicely put into little places I can live a long time knowing there are dust bunnies behind the tv cabinet that I can't really see. Heck, I can live a long time with literal coffee splatters on my kitchen floor and the beginnings of a ring in my toilet.  Gross, right? I mean, of course I'd rather those things not happen--I'd love to have it all--but it turns out when the rubber hits the road those are not my non-negotiables. What I really can't live with is chaotic piles of crap in the corners of the room and little gatherings of random stuff on counters and basic disorder. My eyes start to twitch and I have to find my happy place (which I'm convinced is in Italy, but I've never been so I can't be sure). So somewhere along the way I decided that in order to keep the level of tidiness that I sort of need in order to be a reasonable human being I had to admit that I wasn't realistically going to put all the mail away every day even though I ideally would like to. The only way really to not have the mail all over my desk is to have a home for "mail that isn't sorted yet".  Sounds familiar, right? So some of us get letter trays and stuff it into that and the mail thing isn't such a big deal for a minute.

The thing is, this happens all over the house. The little toys that go in another room are likely to never make it there and stay in a pile on the bottom of the stairs. The clothes I took off last night before bed are supposed to get put away as I take them off.  It seems so simple, but somehow they end up on top of the dresser and they start to pile up. What we've done is continued to set up our houses so that they run really well as long as we hold up our end of the bargain.  The system works great as long as we stay on the treadmill of life and keep running. We periodically get fatigued and slow down or fall off and we get too far behind. The place is out of control. Then we have to put everything on hold and spend a whole day (or week) putting crap away and trying to start fresh.  Inevitably this is also toilet bowl cleaning day and dust bunny day so it's the worst day in the history of mankind.

What we're doing is setting up a system that runs on perfection and then putting ourselves behind the wheel.  No one among us would pretend to be perfect, but I'll be damned if we don't expect ourselves to try.  It's really silly if you think about it.  Why don't we just set up a system that allows for imperfection? I admit that I won't put the mail away, so I get a big ol' letter tray (or an entire three pocket hanging file system because it turns out I really won't put the mail away) and throw the mail into it.

When I need to or want to or feel very home-maker-y, I can go through it and clean it out. When it's convenient for me. In the meantime I know where the mail is and it's NOT ON MY DESK!

Also, there is this:
 and this:
 and this:

 I am not going to spend literally all day walking from one side of the house to the other picking up toys and putting them away where they go any more.  I just can't do it one more day and keep my sanity, so I put a couple cute baskets under the coffee table  and one by the stairs and all toys that end up in my pretty little living room and ruin the peaceful space in my head get thrown into those.  Eventually I will put that stuff away--when it's convenient for me--but in the meantime, it's NOT ON MY FLOOR!

So anyway this idea of admitting to myself that I wasn't really going to do it the way I wanted to and giving myself permission to be honest about it was kind of born in a small way. I started to insert bins and hang hooks so that there were tidy little places for my piles. (I mentioned that I love talking about bins, shelves and hooks and I wasn't kidding). This way when it was cleaning day, I could clean without having to also make decisions about where to put stuff.  Cleaning day is for busting out chemicals, it should not also be burdened with decision-making. I mean think about that.  How much time do you spend on cleaning day just trying to figure out where to put stuff?  So meanwhile I have not become a better housekeeper, I have not earned any jewels for my crown in Heaven and I have certainly not become poster child for Proverbs 21.  I have, however, in a few minutes, managed to clear the clutter that makes me want to shoot myself, off of the surfaces and into neatly confined and predictable little places of what I like to call controlled chaos. Plan for what is realistic not for what is idealistic. When you find a situation that is making you crazy, instead of trying to figure out how to do better and how to prevent this breakdown in the system (it can't be the system's fault, the system is perfect!), admit that this situation exists because it is realistically what happens here. How can I set up the system to accommodate this human frailty? Instead of feeling like crap and flogging myself--or more likely flogging my husband and children--I try to remember that the system is supposed to work for me, not the other way around. Bins, shelves and hooks.

Next time I'll tell you how this whole idea applied to my laundry and saved my life--I ran out of room for talking already.  It happens really fast. Many people respond to my laundry system with patronizing smiles, bewilderment, skepticism and even disdain.  I get it, but again these people might not want to hang out here (the thing about my coffee and saving the world).  This conversation is for people who are ready to admit that their laundry is taking over their house and their life and are tired of looking at in well-intended baskets on the floor, shoving it over in order to sit or sleep or walk, and tired of it being in the top 5 or even 2 on the list of recurring nightmares. "Know who you are and be that"--Robin Williams said that in a movie once (Good Will Hunting? I can't remember any more). It's my favorite saying ever.  As it turns out this is easier said than done.  It's simple, but it is not easy. I really think, however, that it's worth it to spend some time figuring it out. I think the key to housekeeping is the same one we use to unlock other stuff like relationships and murder trials.  Tell the truth.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I'm Just a Housewife

I am not an artist. I am not a chef. I am not a nurse or an engineer or a florist or a pilot. I don't even know how to use a stenograph or what it is. I'm just a housewife. I have a sexy man and a bunch of cute kids. It's what I do. I do it from the sun's rising until it sets. I do it with love and a little resentment. Sometimes there's joy and sometimes it's more like bitter obligation. I feel useful and grateful, and I also feel used and invisible. I love my life and feel so lucky that I get to live it, but I also wonder sometimes what else I might have done and if it would have made me feel more significant in this great big world. Mostly, I'm probably a lot like you.

Its been almost 13 years since I started this job. I have four kids and I attempt to homeschool them. Many days I attempt to like them first, and then we try to get to the grammar. I have struggled to find my way through the dirty floors, the piles of crap everywhere (sometimes literally), the morning sickness, the 3:00am pukings followed by the 5:45 wake-up calls. Tried so hard to "be fulfilled” by the unrelenting call to sacrifice my own wants and needs in order to meet theirs, and then do my best to survive the crushing guilt about what a terrible mother it makes me that see it that way. The truth is, the only thing I have learned is that the key to freedom is rarely found by working harder every day to maintain the immovable standard of perfection. Freedom, is usually found in surrender. And for me, what measure of freedom I have found in this job all started with the laundry. I will tell you that story for sure, but until then, suffice it to say, that it was an epic situation and the only answer was to come to terms with some stuff, to tell the truth, and to come up with a new system. From the laundry was born a whole new way to approach house keeping and it has, quite literally, changed my life.

I have this amazing sister-in-law who thinks I'm great (I'm not sure why, but everyone should get one of those. It feels nice). She has been trying to get me to write a book or start a blog forever and then the other day she posted some of my ideas on her blog (which is amazing but the way and when I learn how I will guide you there)--mostly about this laundry system I speak of--and I was a little surprised by how many people responded to it. It may have been the push I needed. She's good for that too. I've been trying to buy "The Twilight Zone--The Complete Definitive Collection" DVD set at Costco for like 3 years and this year she was like "we're doing it", so I was like "oh yeah, I'm doing it". So we enjoyed Rod Serling over New Years without commercials. It was great. Also, I have at least 7 pairs of shoes I never would have bought if it weren't for her, but I digress. Anyway she tells me that I should write some stuff down, you know, for posterity. I love talking shop over coffee and I don't enjoy writing, so I'm hoping that this is the way to get some thoughts down and still be lazy with my mind:) The great thing is, unlike at a cocktail party, you can just go away. You don't have to listen to me and I will never know! So in summary (see those writing skills at work?), I have nothing to offer but lots to say, and I come from a place of no credibility. Seems like a blog is perfect.