April 8, 2009

The Great Clean

Some people hear the words, SPRING BREAK and they think family vacation, national park, camping! Or maybe they just think of school free days of sleeping in. Me too, usually. But THIS spring break, some wild and woolly and here-to-fore unseen-at-my-house form of mental illness came creeping out from under the sofa and said THERE ARE DEAD BODIES BACK HERE! CLEAN YOUR FREAKING HOUSE! And then the Mental Illness sneezed from all the DUST that the bodies had collected.

I marshalled my unwilling, foot-draggy, and whiny little work force. These children are the shining sunlamps of my heart! The dulcet spawns of my loins! But LORD can they WHINE when you wake them up at seven and shove buckets at them and tell them to drop to their knees and begin hand scrubbing the linoleum like orphans in the 1930’s.

Since calls to virtue were failing, I decided to try old fashioned BRIBERY. I promised untold afternoon delights to those who helped me clean out closets and muck out under furnitures in the morning. They have done fine work, and in response have been taken to Monsters v/s Aliens in TRU 3d, to have mid-week sleepovers with their best friends, and to see some other movie about alien teenagers, I forget the exact title, but it is something like Dwayne Johnson Looks Good in Tight T-Shirts. Or no, that’s not it. I think it was called, OOOOH YUM! THE ROCK!

SO far we have done both kids rooms, both upstairs bathrooms, the guest room, and the hideous pit of a play-room/media center in the basement, digging through every closet and storage space and throwing things out with mad abandon, and then CLEANING the rest of the things, and THEN – most shocking of all --- putting them back in an organized fashion that means we might ACTUALLY know we have these things and USE them.

I wasn’t sure what all I would find… Spanish doubloons? A portal to Narnia? Amelia Earhart? But no, nothing that exciting. I DID discover a fossilizing thrown-up hairball about the size of a chinchilla that had CLEARLY been under the art supplies desk since Christmas. I KNOW it was a Christmas hairball because it was so gaily festooned with reams of chewed gold and green and scarlet curling ribbon.

I also have saved our family about thousand dollars over the next ten years, because we will never, in that time span run out of pencils, pony-tail holders, or bars of soap. The soap is especially odd. I found SCADS and SCORES of Ivory soap bar packages all OVER the house, behind towels, clotting up the bed linens, under the galoshes in the coat closet, beneath the kitchen sink, under beds, behind sofas…I can only presume that the build up of odd dusts and pollens have caused the Ivory Soaps in my house to become sentient, and they have been BREEDING more soaps and exploring their universe, setting up brave new soap colonies on the frontiers.

ALSO! All those SOCKS you are missing? They have been at MY house. Perhaps my newly sentient soap girls are easy? And dig socks? Because I have found about 500 SINGLE socks that have migrated from YOUR house to mine. I know they are YOURS, because none of ‘em match the drawerfuls of SINGLE SOCKS we have waiting for the return of their one true loves in every dresser in the house. It is a mystery, wrapped in an enigma, and covered in a fine patina of foul allergens. BUT NOT FOR LONG.

With a lifted mop and a battle cry that proclaims the death of filthiness, I go now to breach the untold horrors of the master bedroom closet. There may be yeti. If I’m not back in three hours, send a rescue party in. Preferably bearing chocolate.

Posted by joshilyn at April 8, 2009 8:06 AM

It must be yet another contagious disease that you have picked up, because that's EXACTLY what's been going on at my house this week. I thought Spring Cleaning had been wiped out - kind of like Whooping-freaking-Cough, I suppose.

Did you know Six Flags is open? I mean, if you need some serious bribery. Or time to yourself. Maybe Scott would take just the darlings. (I hear it's particularly lovely in the snow.)

Posted by: Jen at April 8, 2009 8:35 AM

I love you and your mentally ill mind. Could you send me some of those socks? I've been looking for them everywhere.

Posted by: heidi at April 8, 2009 8:49 AM

First of all, you cracked me up.

Secondly, I cleaned all of spring break too. . .the children helped at random when pressed into service. There were times I just sent them away.

Ivory soap breeding isn't so bad. . .at least it doesn't have to be fed. :)

Posted by: Roxanne at April 8, 2009 9:33 AM

Who knew that the migratory pattern of native socks included a direct route from MN to GA?

Posted by: Tammy at April 8, 2009 9:41 AM


You're probably about to go into labor.

Posted by: rams at April 8, 2009 9:47 AM

When you're done you can come up to Philly. My apartment is probably the size of your family room so it'll be quick, and there'll be tons of chocolate. Godiva, even. (Bribery still works on grown-ups, right?)

Posted by: Jess at April 8, 2009 9:55 AM

Do you happen to know if there's a 3D version of The Rock? Cause I'm all over that!

Posted by: Ruth at April 8, 2009 11:30 AM

please send me my four errant socks. i have missed them and my left foot has been intermittently cold all winter.

then send Jimmy Hoffman's body back up to us in the mitten state. we have so little to rally our spirits and i know he's been moldering, unappreciated, at the back of your hallway closet.

Posted by: debra at April 8, 2009 11:36 AM

Ah, the joys and horrors of spring cleaning. I sneezed just reading about the dust bunnies.

And Debra? Jimmy Hoffa isn't there. My sister found him, years ago, along with a vast collection of pens, pencils and toys that my then-toddler nephew dropped down the heating vent in her apartment.

Posted by: Aimee at April 8, 2009 11:55 AM

I truly wish spring cleaning were as entertaining at my house as it is at yours.

I set out to bake cookies Saturday, but could not in good conscience put an innocent tray of chocolate-chocolate chippers into that oven. A winter's worth of broiling lamb (and beef, and pork) parts had left too much of the, er, gakkety-fat calories spattered everywhere in there. I didn't want gakkety chocolate cookies, so I started cleaning.

It was an epic clean. This ancient oven used to be self-cleaning. For previous owners. Or maybe even previous to them. And formerly self-cleaning ovens are not easily cleaned by hand.

So, there will be no more broiling until we get a new, truly self-cleaning oven...snow be damned -- we're using the grill outside!

Posted by: Lulu at April 8, 2009 11:58 AM

Didn't Mir just do a major "Child Bribery Closet Fest?" Like you, I was inspired to take a long hard look at my closets when I read her blog post. I am about to part ways with some beautiful dresses that deep down I know I'll never again wear. I'm about three years of chocolate away from the days when they fit.

Posted by: Eden at April 8, 2009 12:22 PM

BUT did you find any of Sam's missing school shirts? :| LOL

Posted by: Purrmah at April 8, 2009 12:41 PM

I am in awe.


I'm doing nothing this spring break but bake.

Wait, did you say chocolate?...

Posted by: RuthWells at April 8, 2009 1:32 PM

Yesterday started off innocently enough with me trying to repair my oven. 4 hours later I had removed every kitchen cabinet door (all 18 of them!), scrubbed them all and the cabinet frames getting them prepped for painting this weekend... I wasn't planning on ANY of it at all...

No offense but I would rather catch the cleaning bug from you that the black lung leprosy you decided to adopt.

Next time though a day's notice would be nice so I can get in a good dose of pain meds before working my rear off.

Posted by: Linda J at April 8, 2009 2:05 PM

Aimee- I still have the list of things I found down the heating vent somewhere, and on it (I kid you not) was a doughnut... What self respecting child does that to a perfectly good pastry item?

Posted by: Laura at April 8, 2009 2:33 PM

"Fossilizing thrown-up hairball about the size of a chinchilla..." HA! You are too funny.

They weren't my socks, tho--my last Lost Sock revealed itself to me when I got dressed for work this morning. (Yes, I have ridiculous good fortune when it comes to socks.) I pulled a blouse from the rack and the errant sock LEAPED out from whatever it had been static-clinging to, and we rejoiced together at its return. (Truly, we did. This particular sock is CASHMERE, and was half of a GIFT from a family member--I would never pay so much for socks for MYSELF, mind you!)

I hear that pets tend to wander less if they are neutered. I am not sure how to tell if one's socks are neutered, or how, indeed, that might be accomplished. It's something to think about. It might decrease the number of Irish offSpring of the socks with the soaps. I don't think you can rely on the soaps to exercise self-control; they are only 99.99% pure, which means that .01% is pure wickedness.

Posted by: Jennifer at April 8, 2009 2:45 PM

It's been more than 3 hours. I am worried about you.

Rescue party has been alerted.

Posted by: Mit at April 8, 2009 2:50 PM

1. Are you sure the horked-up Christmas hairball was vintage 2008? If it were found at my house, its origins could have been 2008, 2007, 2006,... You get the idea.

2. Perhaps the country (world?) needs a centralized Single Sock Sorting Facility. We could all send our singleton socks there, the lonely crew sock from Memphis would be reunited with its mate from Walla Walla, the hand-knit wonder from Wisconsin would engage in the happy dance with its long-lost mate recovered from the Congo, and everyone would be happy. World peace would reign!

Posted by: kmkat at April 8, 2009 6:54 PM

Mentally Ill minds think alike!

I lost my mind yesterday and moved the bed and nightstands. Big mistake.

Behind them I found the makings - fur, whiskers and fossilized puddles of barfed innards - of an entire cat.

And here I thought all that mewing in the night was The Hubster, not The Spirit of the Cat That Could Be.

PS - LMAO re: gaily festooned cat vomit. heh-heh-heh

Posted by: CityGirl at April 8, 2009 7:05 PM

Please send all the ankle-high black socks to me. The single ones I have here are lonely.

Oh you are just wonderful and amazing and are never, ever invited to my house where the idea of housecleaning brings on an attack of the vapours, whatever they are. I'm not a Southern lady so I don't know, but if they keep you from serious housecleaning, I suffer from them.

Which is probably why my black socks went to your house.

Posted by: Fran at April 8, 2009 10:52 PM

Oh, so THAT'S where all my socks are.

Posted by: Nik at April 9, 2009 1:18 AM

Ah, yes, the vapors - I get those too with regards to cleaning. And I couldn't help wondering as well (like Purrmah) if you'd found Sam's shirts!

Posted by: Brigitte at April 9, 2009 5:18 AM

I am not truly Southern either, having been born and raised in Virginia of Massachusetts and New York stock--but isn't "the vapours" merely a polite term for -ahem- flatulence?

If so, my dog used to get the Visible Vapours of Doom.

Posted by: Jennifer at April 9, 2009 2:24 PM

the vapours is lightheadedness, as in "i swan, i think i'm about to vaporize..."

Posted by: dramamama at April 9, 2009 8:10 PM

Good for you! You are a true Southern. However, I also fear you are in labor. The last time my house got a good housecleaning was during nesting. We're naming our dust bunnies so people will just think we're crazy, not slobs.

Posted by: JB at April 10, 2009 9:03 AM

See...soaps need socks to live! So they breed and make more soaps. *nodnod* perfect sense!

Posted by: Lia at April 10, 2009 12:15 PM