Saturday, March 31, 2007

In Case You Were Wondering . . .

I have neglected my blog for a week now--and for a good reason. No, not just because I am struggling to balance the blog=addiction versus blog=pleasant creative outlet struggle, but because Book Club was at MY house this week. People, I am not used to company. Oh sure, I have a few friends (okay 2) who know that my "laundry room" is really my sofa and that the crumbs on my kitchen floor could feed a small third-world country, but this was serious. Visitors would be coming to my home who had never before seen me in "my element." So what is "my element?" I will tell you.

Nine people in 1100 square feet.

There, I said it. THAT is my element. So, what have I been doing? CLEANING, of course. Scrubbing walls, floorboards, carpet (yes, scrubbing carpet) and working desperately to find homes for all the little pieces of clutter that find their way into my house. I am not a pack rat or a compulsive shopper, by the way, and yet every time we go through our things to see what can be donated, I am AMAZED at how much stuff we give away. Where is it coming from? Well, that is likely another post entirely.

Furthermore, I should add that I consider myself "housekeeping challenged." I do clean, but I have struggled to learn how to clean as I go. I have actually stepped over things before and ignored stuff on my counter because I was waiting until later when it would be more convenient to do the whole job really well. Funny how inconvenient life can be.

So, have you ever experienced the phenomenon of seeing your home with new eyes? It's what happens when you realize that someone is coming to visit and you take a little look around to see what needs to be done. All the minor imperfections that usually blend into the background suddenly jump out at you. "Oh no! My sofa looks ratty! The bookshelves are sloppy! The carpet is stained (and a few shades darker than I remember). My floorboards are chipped and in a few places missing!"

Yeah, that's pretty much how I spent the first part of my week. Every now and then I would visit for moral support. Happily, things began to shape up and by Book Club night my front room (which also functions as play room, laundry room, and entry way), was looking decent. My four "hot spots" that attract clutter were clear and I only had three containers of miscellaneous stuff that I didn't have time to put away hidden in my bedroom. I was ready.

Now I should be clear about one thing. I didn't want my home clean because I was worried about my book friends being critical. I knew that they would not care or maybe even notice the imperfections that I was now keenly aware of. They just wanted to get together to enjoy some interesting book talk mixed in with a few treats and personal updates. It's a nice night out. I wanted them to be comfortable and I wanted to be comfortable. (Although imagining someone remarking, "I can't believe she lives like that!" can get you dusting.)

But here is my favorite re-discovery of all: when my home is clean and orderly, I enjoy living in it. A lot. I love my 1100 square feet--with all the chips, dents, indelible scribbles, worn fabric, and unfinished projects. So, although it is a lot of work, I'm trying to keep it up. A clear counter can sure make me smile.

What makes you smile?


Carrotjello said...

What makes me smile? When I open the door and see a maid standing there. Wait, that'll never happen. I can relate. Especially to this...
"All the minor imperfections that usually blend into the background suddenly jump out at you. "Oh no! My sofa looks ratty! The bookshelves are sloppy! The carpet is stained (and a few shades darker than I remember). My floorboards are chipped and in a few places missing!"
That makes me smile, because I say that to myself too.

Rebecca said...

Your house sounds exactly like mine! It's good to know there are other non-stepford wives out there.

And I know it's nice to have a clean house - I just don't get to have that 'nice' feeling all that often because, basically, I think housework sux. :)

Toni said...

How did I miss this?? Thanks for your support at my blog!

I will be going through the same thing in a couple of week before my MIL visits. Although she could careless, she is coming to see us, not the house. I will want it clean. Doesn't help when I have a 4 yo scattering things out as quickly as I can put them up. Can't imagine with more than one little one!

Congrats on a job well done, glad you had a nice time.

What makes me smile? Waking up to a CLEAN kitchen! I agree with the clean counters!

elasticwaistbandlady said...

Oh, carrot and I are sharing a brain, I tell you! My first thought was, "What makes me smile? A big fat gift certificate to Molly Maids. That's what."

You know what? I often tease my girls, when they're begging to invite friends over, that they should host a 'Baseboard Cleaning Party' and provide everyone with a souvenir dust rag to take home. Or a 'Weed Pulling Extravaganza.' I usually just get the usual pre-teen sigh and eyeroll reaction to my suggestions.

Shari said...

your house is in every definition a "home" and I loved being there for book club. I think all of us are like you when we know people are coming over...well, at least I am! you are great jennifer and i admire you in so many ways...and am thankful that you're my friend! THAT makes me smile. :) (how's that for cheesy?)

Jennifer B. said...

Thanks carrot. You always make me smile.

Rebecca: It's true--housework is not exactly thrilling. Perhaps that's why I have struggled with it for so long. There is always something else more fun to do. (Like blogging, for example!)

Toni: Thanks Toni and good luck with your house prep! I couldn't have done it if I hadn't had a neighbor who was willing to watch my little guys for me.

EWL: Your wit is side-splitting! I can't believe your daughters didn't take you up on your offer!

Thank you Shari. You are a fabulous friend and I will push the laundry aside to make room for you on my sofa anytime!

Tylershark said...

Reading my sister's blog and catching up on the details of her life make me smile.

But big brownie sundaes also make me smile.

Also my kids telling me they love me.

And big piles of cash.

Time off of work.

USC winning national championships.

Sleeping for more than 6 hours.

Jennifer B. said...

Tyler, you crack me up. Ditto on the brownie sundaes, wads of cash, sleep,and oh yeah, the lovey kid stuff too.

Thanks for checking in on me.

Anonymous said...

hi there -- wow, funny blog entry. my first time here. i can totally relate to what you wrote here. i hate cleaning the house, but agree, it feels so much nicer to just "be" in the home when it is cleaner and more organized. just getting and keeping it there is yicky, no fun.

thanks for the laugh today.

greetings from anchorage alaska :)

Julie Q. said...

I just hosted my book group last week so I can relate to your cleaning frenzy. I decided it's a good thing to do every few months because it forces me to clean the cobwebs off my ceiling that normally escape my notice.

I'm happy you left a comment so I could return the visit. I enjoy reading well-written blogs (loved the story about the concert, wahoo!). I think we all struggle with the blogging addiction vs. creative outlet quandry. I'm still trying to figure out the balancing act myself.

Jennifer B. said...

grateful -- Welcome! It's nice to hear from you :)

julie q. -- Thanks so much for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

jennifer: thanks! and, btw, you took a great picture there of the broom with the backshot and shadows.

what makes me smile? when i see one of my primary kids and they run up and give me a big hug. totally awwwhhh!

happy day :)

Jennifer B. said...

grateful -- You're welcome. I cannot take credit for the photo -- I often use the free photo sharing available through flickr. If you click on the photo, it takes you to the flickr website and will credit the REAL photographer.

Anonymous said...

jennifer -- cool, thanks also for telling me about the photo website within the photo.

i am so psyched that i just figured out how to add pictures and links into posts last night. i was so pleased and proud, i just kept looking at the output. my teen (daughter the younger) was not impressed :). she just wanted to use the computer.

happy easter :)