Waiting for Empty Laundry Baskets

Waiting for Empty Laundry BasketsDoing laundry drives me a little bit crazy.

Tell me you get this. I mean, we wash, we wear, we wash, we wear. Over. And over. And over again.

The monotony of household chores, in general, bores me to tears. More than once, I’ve raised my hands to God to say, “Why? Why the same thing over and over?”

My family members, especially, are not good stewards of their dirty laundry. They do not alert me to stubborn stains. They do not separate whites and colors as they stack dirty clothes in piles. My daughter often wears layers and pulls everything off at once, leaving me a tangled mess to unravel at the washer—socks and inside-out pants, underwear, tanks, and tees. And my husband rolls up all his dirty clothes at once into a ball. I have often found a surprise black sock in a load of whites because it was tucked into an undershirt.

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Hot Garbage

It’s one of the last days of summer vacation. I can think of few things that would so eloquently capture the fleeting nature of these lazy, crazy, sticky, and sweaty few months we’ve enjoyed at the Bernard home than this:

Hot Garbage
Allow me to elaborate. 
We must contract for trash pick-up service, and guess who stuck the tiny postcard of a bill inside the back of the “to pay” folder? And guess who had no idea the bill had not been paid until it was two weeks past its deadline? And guess who realized this only after the garbage guys did not pick up her garbage on the curb, now two weeks ago? 
Yep. That would be yours truly. 
So, I called the company and they said all I need to do is send a check for the balance and the service will resume. 
But I forgot. Until Monday. Trash pick-up is Wednesday. 
Yea. They hadn’t gotten the check yet. 
Oh, and did I mention it’s been 115 degrees every day for the last week? 
When I heard the garbage truck outside on Wednesday morning, I pressed my nose against the glass, like a kid does waiting for Santa on Christmas Eve. I chanted and willed with everything in my being to the garbage collectors walking up and down the sidewalk in front of my house: “Pick up my garbage. Pick up my garbage!”
Rejection set in as I watched Garbage Guy glance to my two large, smelly, stuffed cans and yell to Garbage Truck Driver Dude: “This one? Do we get this one?” He gestured at my cans.
“Yes!” I screamed, my cries muffled against the glass. 
Just then the engine revved and inched on down the street, Garbage Guy going on to dump my neighbors’ cans. 
Thus launched the 2010 Find an Alternative Garbage Disposal Solution because I knew we were now facing another week of piled-up garbage. I knew I was facing a little-more-than-upset husband: (“Didn’t you pay them?” “Yes, but the check hasn’t cleared yet, dear.”)
I Googled the Davidson county dumpsites, only to discover the nearest one was a good twenty-minute drive from my house. I found a very close Williamson county one but couldn’t figure out a way to get in since I have Davidson county plates. I quizzed my hair dresser—who generously offered her salon’s dumpster for my use. I had one friend staking out her neighbor’s can to see if we could squeeze a few bags in Thursday night. We couldn’t. It was full. 
And then, I had a brilliant idea. The apartment complex where our church rented office space is a veritable dumpster paradise. There’s one—sometimes two—on every corner. Technically, we don’t still rent there, but I’m believing there’s a grace period for after-rental garbage dumping privileges or something like that. 
Friday, as I had a sitter with the kids (yes, this was my fun “me” day outing), I carefully loaded Hot Garbage into the back of the van. I don’t have to tell you how disgusting it was. Thankfully, I only had to drive less than five minutes down the street. I made two trips and unloaded about 10 bags of hot, stinky, grody, yucky garbage into that absolutely empty dumpster. 
What a feeling of accomplishment! I had solved the problem. I had found a workable solution. I had faced the filth and the stench. I got it done. 
Nothing like a little Hot Garbage on a sweltering August day to really motivate and energize a stay-at-home mom into action.

photo: ericortner at stock.xchng


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I Am Laundress: Hear Me Roar

But—not anymore. 
That’s right. For risk of having to eat my words, I proudly proclaim here and now: 
I have conquered my laundry! 
I know. I know. It’s exciting, isn’t it? 
Here’s my secret: I do one load of laundry every day. Every day. No matter how small. 

(I realize that for some of you, this may be intuitive. Not me, though. So, I’m really excited by this epiphany.)

A few weeks ago, we got a new washing machine when our old one stopped draining. Our new machine has an automatic water level sensor and an awesome spin cycle. So, here’s the thing: I don’t feel guilty about washing a small load because I’m not wasting water. 
The smaller load is then spun so well (and it’s smaller), the drying time is lessened. The fewer pieces, then, take less time to fold and put away. 
I am thrilled I’m finally getting on top of my laundry. 
I was thinking about this: a simple method of eating one’s elephant a bite at a time, consistently. But, it’s not a method set in stone. I think that must be key for me. Schedules become counter-productive for me because I feel suffocated by them. I must have flexibility. So, a routine is important: I may do my laundry in the morning or in the evening, watching HGTV or talking on the phone. I need that tiny shred of control. 
I have tried schedules and systems and philosophies, ad nauseum, when it comes to housekeeping tasks. None of them seems to stick.

I have decided that in order to see growth and productivity, I must never feel coerced by my schedule or system. I must have flexibility within parameters.

And I must embrace the “baby step” mentality.

Oh, I’m learning a lot about myself as I wander through adulthood. Who would have thought laundry could teach me so much?

What about you? How do you feel about schedules vs. routines? What works for you in your home?
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Future Hoarder Here???? Aaack!!!!!!

I’m addicted to the two shows now featuring the hoarding disorder: Hoarders on A&E and Hoarding: Buried Alive on TLC.

I grew up with two parents who are borderline hoarders rather extreme pack rats, and so, I’ve been battling this “demon” for most of my adult life. My parents—to this day—have magazines from the 80s on their shelves, canceled checks from my deceased uncle’s account (he died in 2002) in the desk, and random keys, screws, and thing-a-ma-jigs scattered about the kitchen counter.

When Chris and I first married, we battled this tendency of mine frequently. I remember getting behind on my newspaper reading, allowing past issues to pile in the corner. I had every intention of going through all 20 or so papers, page by page. But, it didn’t happen. Chris was ready to recycle them; I protested. We finally decided that to avoid these arguments, the best thing to do was cancel the newspaper subscription.

See, I firmly believed that those papers contained valuable information that I was missing. Books, papers, and magazines have always represented knowledge to me. And knowledge is one of my greatest pursuits. I really have to “limit” myself to certain amounts of paper or it will overtake me.

The other night, the woman on the show walked into a scrapbook store and bought a few items for her scrapbooks: stickers, papers, and so on. She mentioned that she had been “scrapbooking” for about eight years and had only done one page—BUT she had mountains and mountains of supplies. She said that she enjoyed the acquisition of the items and the possibilities that they represent.

Her words smacked me in the forehead: the acquired items represent possibilities. Most often for me the possibilities are much more exciting than the reality.

Anyway—it scared me to identify so closely with her sentiment, especially given my background, and because I have no idea how to get around the way I look at the world and things.

The only thing I do know is that I don’t want to be featured on Hoarders in a few years.

Ideas, anyone? 

photo: Morgue File

Cutting Back, Living Intentionally, and Writing

You may recall that my new year’s resolution was to live intentionally.

So, what does that look like in my life?, I wondered.

Well, I know what it doesn’t look like.

It doesn’t look like worn-out, frazzled mom. It doesn’t look like worried mom juggling deadlines. It doesn’t look like fast food for every meal. It doesn’t look like the illusion of making money and “getting ahead” when, in actuality, the bank account is strained and debt continues to accrue. It doesn’t look like laundry and dish piles.

At least not for me. Not for us. Not for our family.

And so, I posted a plea for advice to you, my dear readers. You had great words of wisdom and encouragement. I felt good, at least, to know that I wasn’t completely crazy and alone, drowning in a sea of demands and deadlines.

Chris and I prayed, mulling over your words and ideas and re-evaluating our “intention” of intentional living in 2010 and decided that we were not, indeed, living with intention. We were being run by our circumstances. We were reacting, not proacting. We were slaves to the tyranny of the urgent demands of everyone and everything else besides those that were most important to us.

On March 15, I worked my last day at the most time-consuming of my four part-time jobs. I have all but closed shop on my Melaleuca “business” (although I am always happy to answer your questions and/or open a membership account for you—just ask). Our church is shutting its doors (another long story of emotional drain for our family—post forthcoming) at the end of the month, so I will no longer be employed there.

That leaves my writing.

I will always write. Writing for me is intuitive and effortless and cathartic. One of the negatives of these last few months is that I have not had the time I would have liked to devote to my writing.

Now I can devote my “free time” to my writing. Truly, I believe this is my gift from God. I feel that I’ve pushed all the other boundaries of my interests and skills. God has revealed to me that while I may be “OK” at many things, there are only a handful that are true gifts.

Writing. Writing here and at Faithful Bloggers and at Suite 101 is where you’ll find me now. I’ll be using my God-given skills for his glory.

If he chooses to bless us with money for that, then I rejoice. If he does not, then I rejoice!

I’ve decided that I will be intentional about living as he’s guiding me. The fact is that he’s placed certain circumstances in my life, which dictate his will for me.

He has called me to be Chris’ wife and all that that entails. He has called me to be mom to my three kids and all that that entails. He has called me to manage this home with the income that he has provided and all that that entails.  And he has called me to write. He has called me to write—since I could string together subjects and verbs in the first grade—for his glory and others’ edification.

OK, God. Show me my next steps. God, you promise that when you require something of your children, you equip them with the grace to accomplish it. I believe it, Lord.

I am intentionally and deliberately believing it.

Image: cohdra at morguefile.com

I’m Going to Whine Now

Typically, I don’t like to post whiney-tale ramblings.

But, hey, I’m in a funk and I have a blog.

And if I can’t whine on my blog, then why have a blog, right?

So, if this is a problem for you, then you can click off my post and come back tomorrow.

I hope you’ll stay, though, and help me. Help me, readers.

Help me figure out my life. 

I’m really overwhelmed right now, and I’m not sure what to do about it.

I know that I have no margins in my life. I first heard about the concept of margin several years ago.

Think of the margins on a piece of paper. That’s the “extra” space that can be used if needed or in an emergency. A place for spill-over. White space that is pleasing to the eye and a soft place to land.

Nope. I have none of that in my life.

(I’m going to get this book, ASAP, by the way. I’ve heard other friends talk about it. It’s been on my to-read list, but I’ve procrastinated. But, I’m going to get it soon. Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate and receive a small commission for purchases referred to Amazon.)

My life runs from sun-up to sun-down with far more to do than there is time for.

FlyLady wants me to do my routines. Yea, I have no time for routines. Because as routine as routines go, they Still. Take. Time.

Exercising and grocery shopping and cleaning toilets all take time. Fifteen minutes here, an hour there, thirty minutes there. Time.

I need a lot of sleep. Like 8-9 hours to feel really good. But, hey, that takes time. I can either cut corners on my sleep and be grouchy and grumpy and less productive or I can feel guilty about going to bed when there is still so much left undone. (I know that’s crazy. But that’s me.)

All my little part-time jobs are wonderful blessings, and we truly need the money. We count on each little $100 or $200 check to make ends meet each month. So, which $200 check do I forfeit so that I don’t feel guilty when I go to sleep?  In the meantime, which meal/activity/chore is neglected so that I can finish a work assignment?

Blogging and writing are the only things I do for fun. Period. I don’t read. Magazines and books sit untouched on my nightstand. I haven’t scrapbooked since July 2007. That’s terribly sad, but seriously, how in the world can I justify sitting around sticking pictures into books when I have a to-do list as long as my arm? Plus, scrapbooking would require my downloading, sorting, and actually printing pictures. I don’t even want to think about how much time that would take.

Do I stop blogging? Do I stop writing for fun?

Do I shrivel up to nothing because I have no outlet for creativity?

I could go on and on. I know you know that I have laundry, meals, activities, Bible study, and church. I know you know what it’s like to juggle and prioritize.

Am I the most insanely organizationally-challenged person in the world? Or is this just “part of it” and I need to grin and bear it until retirement? 

What should I do? How do I take some of the pressure off? Which ball(s) to drop?

At what point do we simply step out in faith, do away with things that drain us, and trust God to provide compensation (whether emotional, financial, spiritual)?

Truly, I’d love to hear your feedback and any suggestions for me and my family.

Thank you. Whining over.

Image: Morgue File

A Laundry Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, a girl and a boy met and married and set up house in a small apartment in Green Hills. The girl and the boy loved their home even though they didn’t have a washer/dryer hook-up inside their unit.

But, alas, the community laundry room was in the building just across from theirs. Every week, the girl would load up all of their laundry (usually on a Wednesday afternoon), detergent bottles, and a handful of quarters, and wash their laundry—three loads simultaneously.

The week’s laundry was usually finished within a couple of hours, always by dinnertime.

Then the boy and the girl eventually had three children and got their own washer and dryer. The girl now has more than ten loads of laundry every week. She swears the piles of dirty clothes spontaneously multiply when she’s not looking, and she’s certain she’s heard discarded pants and tops and socks mocking her, “Nah-nah-nuh-nahnah! We’re bigger than you are.”

Never a free moment from the tyranny of laundry.

And so, the story continues. The girl frequently finds herself longing for the days of three-loads-a-week in the community laundry room at that cute little apartment complex in Green Hills.

And they all lived happily (?) ever after.

THE END

I Suffer From Amnesia

I’ve decided there are a few things in life that we would NEVER do again if we truly remembered what our last time was like.

Take parenting. God gives us all amnesia concerning puking our guts up with morning sickness, labor pains, sleep deprivation, post-partum depression, and the agony of teaching a baby to sleep. We forget and we do it all over again. And sometimes again and again.

Moving would fall into this category. For some, going back to school or painting a room would qualify.

I’m convinced that I also suffer from amnesia when it comes to consignment and yard sales. Every time I prepare my junk to sell, I think, why did I sign up to do this again? Every time I’m working the sale, with aching feet and going on little sleep because I was up late the night before, I think, what was I thinking? When it’s time to clean up and put up and haul home or haul away the unsold items I think, I don’t think that was worth it. Afterward, when I count the money I made (which is always less than I had imagined) I wonder, why did I do this?

And then the opportunity rolls around again, and my amnesia kicks in. I giddily sign up to be a consignment “seller” or start fantasizing about the yard full of my possessions and hoards of shoppers offering me thousands of dollars to cart off my stuff.

This spring, I guess my amnesia has escalated to a full psychosis because I am actually ORGANIZING our neighborhood yard sale in May.

Yep. That amnesia is a pretty powerful force not easily reckoned with.

Honey, I Blew Up My Kitchen

Last week, our 2-slot pop-up toaster stopped working. I suppose this was expected. It was a wedding gift almost 14 years ago. Ironically, the couple who gave it to us is now divorced.

Yesterday, just hours after I posted my smoothie recipe, I fried my new blender—how? I have NO IDEA—when I tried to make Chris and me a peach daiquiri at dinnertime. As I blended, the appliance started smoking, and a nasty electrical burnt odor filled the house. I’ve only had the blender for 2 months.

Tonight, I melted the front panel of my Crockpot. I think it got a bit too close to the stove eye as I was making mac ‘n cheese. Thankfully, the melting didn’t affect the functioning of the power and timer buttons. Of course, I broke the lid handle months ago, so the melted front panel fits right in with its weathered look.

I love my appliances and grieve their passing.