Thanksgiving: the Aftermath

And then after a delightful dinner, you are left with the detritus.

I was surprised how exhausted I felt by 8PM last night, considering that our day was low key and we were cooking for only the 3 of us. However, a friend reminded me that whether we are cooking for 3 or 30 (heaven forbid), the amount of work is the same. True that.

At least we have a refrigerator full of yummy leftovers.

Trigger Happy Jack

I cleaned the baseboards in most of my house today. If that doesn’t scream “adulthood”, I don’t know what does.  As I moved from room to room, I turned on the music on my phone. Duran Duran, The Cranberries, Jay-Z jostled for space among the occasional Christmas song.

“Trigger Happy Jack” by Poe came on and I listened to it twice.

I’m trying to be more careful with my language and not use words like “crazy” indiscriminately. 

However, I must say that “Trigger Happy Jack’s” chorus of “can’t talk to a psycho like a normal human being” rings very true for me.

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness Unless You’re in My House

My house is a wreck. There are papers piled on the dining room table and counter tops. Three baskets of laundry sit in the living room floor, and another load sits in the dryer. The hardwood floors are dirty and as of last night, covered with teeny, tiny bits of play dough from Daniel’s starfish making at the kitchen table. There are clean dishes in the dishwasher to unload, dirty dishes in the sink and more pots to be dirtied tonight as I make sides to go with the pork roast I made last night.

The toilets need scrubbing yet again and even though Daniel has been potty trained for well over a year, I’m still cleaning up poo and pee thanks to our geriatric cats, and if it’s not that, it’s a hairball. Toys are everywhere, train cars mixed with garbage cans mixed with pretend food in a way that make me want to lose my mind or break a leg as I hopscotch over them but makes perfect sense to a 4-year-old. Bills to pay. Paperwork to sort. Pre-K homework to do, which is truly a family affair. Pre-K paperwork to sign and library books to keep up with that have to returned to school just so. Glitter. Birthday party invitations. To-do lists taunt us.

We clean. We do. We try to keep up. Usually on the weekends, we’ll try to tackle what needs to be done and we’ll feel good about the state of the house for about 5 minutes until a cup of milk is dropped on the floor or until the sink fills up again, always so quickly. Or the time comes to do another load of laundry, which means it will likely sit in a basket on the living room floor until the next weekend.

It’s so frustrating because there are only three humans in the house. We don’t go out of our way to make a mess.  How can we destroy a house so effectively? Is it our family’s core competency?

It’s so frustrating because there are only three humans in the house. We have one child. Surely we should be able to keep the house clean and stay on top of the dishes and laundry. What excuse can we possibly have for not having pristine toilets?  With our one child, how can we possibly feel so frazzled and brain dead by 8PM?

I don’t know. I keep thinking about it lately because it seems like we should have our shit together better than we do.  It’s true that we both work. I’m out of the house with Daniel by 7:15 every morning and it’s closer to 5:45 when we arrive home. That leaves us with roughly 2 hours to play, fix dinner, get lunches ready, get uniforms ready, take baths, brush teeth, do the nighttime routine and sing songs. We can usually do a load of laundry in that time and load or unload the dishwasher.  Garbage night is on Tuesday. Litter always needs to be scooped.

Maybe the ugly truth is that a pristine house is not a priority. I grew up watching my mom and her sisters scrub their houses from top to bottom.  One of my aunts – who worked full time as a teacher – vacuumed her carpets and swept nightly.  We didn’t have a dishwasher at my house, so every pot, plate and utensil had to be washed by hand.  It was always work before play, and most of the work was done by the adult women.  My mom never tasked me to do any of these chores, so I grew up thinking of cleaning as drudgery. I still think of it as drudgery, but the problem is that now I’m the adult who has to do it.

I suppose I prefer not to.

The thought of spending precious weekend time to clean the house is unappealing to me, especially when the damn house is just going to get dirty again. I want to relax, read a book, play with Jimmy and Daniel.  Is that wrong? Is that so bad?  I feel like I spent most of my life putting work before play with the result being that I seldom got to play. As an adult, can’t I run my house the way I choose? But those “shoulds” have a bad habit of creeping back in.

This morning as Daniel and I were getting ready to leave, Jimmy said he needed to clean a few things before he joined us at my car to say goodbye.  Daniel said, “Our house is clean, daddy.”  I looked at Jimmy and then looked at Daniel and said, “It’s sweet of you to think so.”

Maybe this means that we just keep doing the best we can and accept that we have other priorities than working our fingers to the bone keeping our house clean. Maybe we can give ourselves a house cleaner for Christmas.  But if you’re thinking of coming over, call first, OK? That way we can hide the baskets of laundry and do a cat-hair tumbleweed check.

Bird is the Word

Remember yesterday when I posted our Thanksgiving menu and said we would be roasting two turkey breasts, with herbs lovingly (well, attentively) spread under the skin?  Today I made a list of all the things we needed for Thanksgiving, and the three of us went to the grocery store.  Things were going well until Jimmy noticed that we could buy a 20 LB whole turkey for $9 after discounts vs the two 6 LB breasts for $13.  As we pondered the $4 difference, our feelings ranged from disbelief to panic to disbelief to calculation to panic to acceptance to consideration to nonchalance to excitement to determination.

We bought a 20 LB whole turkey for $9. It’s sitting in our refrigerator.  We’re slightly back to feeling panicked because we’ve never cooked an entire turkey before, but surely it cannot be that much different from roasting turkey breasts, right?  We’ll see.  We’ll know for sure on Thursday.


So big it’s almost frightening (that’s what she said)

We had a good day.  It started off a bit roughly as Daniel and I had an impromptu, unintended tug-of-war with the French doors in the master bathroom, and he ended up with a black eye.  I feel like flagellating myself like the weird albino priest in Angels and Demons every time I see his face.

Jimmy let Daniel wear his hat, and there is nothing cuter and more inappropriate than a 3-year-old wearing a Macallan’s hat.

macallan's hat

Shiner, Macallan’s hat and dinner. Tough guy

Daniel received a card from his grandma today, and he was all ears as Jimmy read it to him.

Thanksgiving card

Afterward, they called grandma to thank her.  I stifled laughter as Daniel told his grandmother that he saw “gra-l-ola bars and baby marshmallows and salad” at the grocery store.

cell-phone call to grandma

Tomorrow we start deep cleaning for Thanksgiving.  We still have a few reminders of Halloween to remove, like the decomposing jack-o-lanterns on the porch.  I feel a tad embarrassed, but it’s also interesting to see their carved mouths collapse inward on themselves.  I sort of want to buy them some fake teeth to prop up their lips.

Please reassure me that cooking a whole turkey is no big deal.  I’m confronted by the monstrous bird every time I open the refrigerator.

How was your Saturday?


This will be a short post completed on my iPhone to fulfill the requirements of NaBloPoMo. Because I like a challenge. And I’m tired.

We worked hard this weekend. Let no one tell you that cleaning and purging is easy work. It is hard, especially when you have a dedicated mess-maker on hand!

Daniel woke up at 6 both Saturday & Sunday, a baffling hour earlier than his weekday wake up time.

I made a quiche, roasted pork w/ a bourbon mustard sauce and coleslaw.

I also burnt an omelet and drank far too much pumpkin spice coffee.

We played with a small boy in our leaf-filled yard and he loved it. We did too.

And thanks to much hard work, primarily by J, we are able to park in the garage for the first time in the 6 years we’ve been in this house. Sad but true.

It was a good weekend.

We can park in our garage!


J and I have been paying some long overdue attention to our house.  We’ve been cleaning and de-cluttering and throwing away stuff we’ve accumulated that isn’t us or no longer (if ever) necessary.  First, we tackled the bonus room and other rooms.  Next, we emptied the guest room.

Our newly-empty guest room

Our focus this week has been the garage, and I’ve learned a few things:

  • It’s incredibly embarrassing that we’ve accumulated enough new crap to fill a dumpster only 2 years after the last dumpster rental
  • I’ve become ruthless when it comes to junk: throw it out!  We obviously haven’t needed it or missed it.
  • J is a paperwork hoarder – it is astonishing the number of boxes containing old paperwork we have schlepped from residence to residence.
  • What were we thinking putting a box of empty gift boxes from Christmases gone by in the loft instead of the trash?
  • If anyone needs furniture/moving blankets, we’ve got you covered

A couple of the boxes were items from high school and college that I have saved.  A few playbills from plays I was in.  A few papers I was especially proud of.  A folder containing lesson plans from the unit on existentialism for the 10th graders I student taught.  And notebooks containing my writing and thoughts.  J kept remarking that I had a weird expression on my face as I went through those boxes, and he was right.  It felt weird.  I didn’t remember some of the events I’d written about – fairly trivial in retrospect but misery for the 17- and 18-year old me.  I wasn’t very happy in high school, and my freshman year of college was one of adjustment.  Not academically but socially.  I’ve always struggled to find the place where I fit in, and those years were not my best.  The words, the poems…it took me back.  I’m sure that a lot of what I felt was typical teenager angst, but the misery leapt off the pages (Amber, if you are reading this, I bet you understand).

I finally told J that I wasn’t ready to throw away the stuff, but I’d be happy if we could shove the boxes into a corner somewhere and I could try to forget they existed.

I don’t know why I’m hanging on to what I chose to keep.  Do I want Daniel to find my old notebooks and read them?  My essays and stories?  Sure!  Indulge in the brilliance that was my college years (ha!). My notebooks/diaries? Not really.   Those notebooks were used sporadically, so the context is missing.  But I can’t help but feel like they are a tiny bit precious.  They contain a little bit of the teenage me.  Maybe they are my horcrux(es?).

So those items escaped the Great Purge of 2011.  We’ve made progress in our de-cluttering, cleaning and sprucing up.

So have I.

How do you feel when you come across items from your adolescence or past?

We rearranged our hutch to contain the items we liked

Week in My Life: Friday

Day 5 of my participation in Adventuroo‘s project!  This Friday was out of the ordinary because J and I took the day off from work in order to do some major Fall cleaning around the house.

I didn’t sleep well.  I don’t know if it’s the cold or something else, but every day I wake up around 4.  This morning I had the privilege of waking up at 3!  Thankfully I was able to go back to sleep until around 5:30.  At that point, I was awake for the day.  I thought about getting up and writing the post for Thursday but dithered too long because Daniel woke up at 7.

I washed my face and brushed my teeth while listening to him chatter on the monitor. I love hearing his voice and all his new words as he plays with his stuffed animals.  I fed the yowling beasts and then went to his room.  He asked me to come snuggle, so I did.  There was a lot of tail action in his room – stuffed animal tails that is!  He is fascinated with tails, and he has lots of stuffed animals with tails, and he likes to tickle his nose and my nose and J’s nose with them.

After about 20 minutes, we headed to the Master Bedroom in order to change his diaper.  Daniel slipped in front of the door, but I thought it was because of his footie pajamas.  He jumped on the bed and chased Lucy.  I changed his diaper and brought him into the kitchen.  Only then did I put on my glasses.  I noticed weird spots on my pillow and side of the bed.  Curious, I opened the bedroom door and saw a huge pile of cat vomit.  Oh joy.  So that’s what Daniel slipped in and that’s what is on my side of the bed!   I hadn’t noticed it because the hallway was dark and yes, my vision really is that poor without my glasses or contacts.

I quickly stripped him down and put on his clothes and gave his stuffed kitty Juliet an emergency bath.  Oh and I cleaned up the cat puke.  J got up and got dressed because he was taking Daniel to his mom for  the day.  They left, I made coffee (yummy peppermint), put in my contacts and then sat down at my laptop to write Thursday’s post. 

J calls about 10 minutes later and informs me that Daniel has puked.  Though he hasn’t been sick like we have been, he’s been gunky too, so he puked up a lot of mucus.   They hadn’t gotten on I-40 yet, so J was able to pull over and clean him up.  He said that Daniel told him he felt better now.  I bet!

When J returned, we had breakfast from McDonald’s to fuel our cleaning frenzy.  I was bad: while I ate only the sausage and egg from one biscuit, I ate the second one biscuit and all.  Oh well. 

Let the cleaning begin.  J and I are pack rats.  We’ve also had a pretty eventful and stressful couple of years, so we haven’t had the time or capacity to focus on the house.  The primary objective of the day was to clean up the bonus room so that Daniel could use it as a play room.  Cleaning, however, can become addictive, and soon we were emptying closets and throwing away more than we originally planned.

I cleaned out my hope chest which contained dress up clothes from childhood, National Honor Society pins, a million pictures, a doll, coins from Europe – special stuff.  I ended up putting a lot of it in another bin, and the hope chest is now clean and empty, but we couldn’t remember why we thought we needed to empty it.  Oh well.  It’s ready for whatever now.

This picture contains a few things in my hope chest:

Can't believe what I hold on to!

The records are special because they were my father’s.  He used to DJ when I was younger, and I guess I had taken those records from his collection.  I’m not sure whey there are so many Madonna records.  I wasn’t that big of a fan.  The hoop skirt is from a dress I wore in a piano recital. The box behind it holds the many, many pictures I found in the chest.

After that, we attacked our VHS tapes.  Yes, VHS tapes.  We had purged them about 2 years ago and what was left was on a shelf in the guest room closet but deciding we needed the shelf space more, we were ruthless.  We ended up keeping about 25 really special ones, but behold what we got rid of:

Then J suggested that I do the same to my books in the play room.  We have two built-in floor-to-ceiling book shelves upstairs.  Mine is filled with books.  I couldn’t add another book to it.  I met this suggestion with dismay.  Books are sacred to me and even though most of the books were ones I bought at library book sales (and probably not very good), I still held out hope I’d get to read all of them.  He asked me to consider whether I’d really read them and go from there.  So I did.  I ended up throwing out enough books to fill two boxes.  It’s ok  – after all, the next book sale is in February!

At 4 we stopped because I needed to go get Daniel, and he had a few errands to run.  The house looks good.  We felt really good about everything we accomplished yesterday.  Hopefully we can keep that momentum going.

Lazy cats! We also attacked Daniel's room, and it would be nice if the kitties helped!