Tag Archives: housekeeping

Hints for Household Helpers Under the Age of 16

Good morning Everyone!

Certain circumstances having arisen in my household, I wish to aid household helpers under the age of 16 with the following hints.

  1.  Pushing the vacuum cleaner over the floor does not count unless the vacuum cleaner is also removing dust, dog hair, paper and other detritus from the floor.
  2.  A see through canister on the vacuum cleaner is not there merely for your viewing pleasure. When the canister resembles a water balloon about to burst, it needs to be emptied.
  3. If the engine of said vacuum cleaner starts to smoke, the canister definitely must be emptied.  Unplugging it at this point is a good idea, too.  Please remember that we keep the fire extinguisher centrally located for the good of all under the kitchen sink.
  4. The terms “window cleaner” and “window streaker” are not synonymous.
  5. Dishes that come out of the dishwasher without feeling clean should be returned to the dishwasher for another round.  If they still are not clean after that, you must hand wash the items.
  6. If the drink glass you pull from the dishwasher feels as if there is a hidden message transcribed in braille on the outside, it is not clean.
  7. Putting said drink glass on the highest shelf possible does not render the glass clean or relieve the household helper of culpability.
  8.  If you have pets, pantry doors and trash bins need to be firmly closed once the cleaning is done.  Otherwise, you will end up doing it all over again after the pets enjoy the wondrous smorgasbord you have set before them.
  9. The phrase “empty the dishwasher” is not synonymous with “empty the dishwasher – except the silverware.”  Parents do notice when they open the silverware drawer and find the silverware set consists of two teaspoons and a knife.
  10. If a parent begins any sentence with “Perhaps you should….”  the following instruction is not optional.  Your parent is trying to tell you something nicely.
  11. The “whole house” means the whole house.  It does not mean the living room and the kitchen only.
  12. Please explain exactly how you can claim to have vacuumed or dusted thoroughly when items such as clothing and shoes that were on the floor when you began your work remain in the same spot in an unaltered state when you are finished.
  13. You are not abused or misused because we expect you to help with the housework.  And yes, when you go off to college, we will probably hire someone to do the house for us once a week.  Get over it.  You can do the same thing to your children once you have them.
  14. Most of us do not expect your work to pass the white glove test.  (Google it.)  However, if the dust on the surface of anything is deep enough that we can write our names in it or draw pictures, it needs to be dusted.
  15. We parents appreciate your help.  Really.  It’s just hard to remember to say so when steam is blowing out of our ears because you know and we know that you have not given us your best effort.

Happy helping, household helpers!

Have a great day everyone.


The Kitchen Cleaning Caper

Good morning Everyone!

About three weeks ago, several round white spots, maybe two inches in diameter, and a long smear of white appeared on the kitchen floor.  Kayla said she had tried to mop them up, but it hadn’t worked, and neither had vacuuming.

I was tired of looking at them by Sunday, so yesterday evening I sat down on the floor and started working on getting those spots up.  The spots were made by a thick, hard substance, though, and the only way to remove them was to scrape the substance off with a knife.  It was too thin, too uniform and not stretchy enough to be gum but it was too tough to be something like sugar or icing.

After a while, Kayla joined me on the floor to help.  She wanted to know if I knew what the spots were.  I told her I wasn’t sure, but  I was beginning to think I might be better off not knowing.  Realizing I was talking about unwanted critters, she said “Eeee-youuuuuuuuuu!”

She helped me scrape for a while in silence, then she said, “These spots look exactly like someone  got mad and slung the stove top cleaner around without realizing that it wasn’t shut good.”

Happy Face Angel With Wings

from http://www.clickartonline.com
All Rights Reserved

I sat back to look at her, and she added, “Not that I did anything like that!”

I let her off on a technicality.

(For the record, Mark and I went into the bedroom and shut the door so we could laugh until our sides hurt at her non-confession.)

Have a great day!


FN.  We have a glass cook top on our stove, and it requires a special cleaner that rubs on like a paste and then is wiped off with paper towel.  Apparently once the stuff dries without being rubbed off, it is impenetrable.

The Only New Year’s Resolution You Will Ever Need!

Good morning Everyone!

New Year's Baby

From http://www.clickartonline.com by Broderbund. Copyright protected.

Believe it or not, we are already half way through the first month of 2013!  Studies show that by now, many who made New Year’s resolutions have already let them slide, and by the end of the month, most of the rest of us will follow suit.  A few years ago, however, I discovered the secret to keeping a New Year’s resolution, and I thought today I’d share it with you.

long list

A list of New Year’s resolutions – from http://www.clickartonline.com by Broderbund. Copyright protected.

Before I learned this secret, I also participated in the New Year’s resolution mania, coming up with a long list of resolutions worthy of the finest list keepers in the realm, with all of the usual suspects on it – lose weight, eat right, exercise, get organized, keep the house better, and complete every uncompleted craft project I ever laid hands on along with a few inherited ones – only to wake up somewhere around mid-January to find that I had not kept one resolution out of the fifty or so that I had made.  Then, one year, lightning struck and I discovered the way off of the New Year’s treadmill.

From www.clickartonline.com by Broderbund.  Copyright protected.

From http://www.clickartonline.com by Broderbund. Copyright protected.

Here it is – the one and only New Year’s resolution you will ever need.  (Do you hear the fan fare in the distance?  Is the suspense gathering?)  Ladies and Gentlemen, I am proud to introduce you to THE RESOLUTION:


Applause, audience


This lofty but eminently keepable resolution is not without its pitfalls, however.

Avoid pitfalls! From www.clickartonline.com by Broderbund.  Copyright protected.

Avoid pitfalls!
From http://www.clickartonline.com by Broderbund. Copyright protected.

The worst pitfall is the peer pressure that slowly builds upon the resolver to make another New Year’s resolution, any other New Year’s resolution, as the previous year draws to a close.  The pressure is at its peak the week between Christmas and New Year’s, as the media inundates you with stories about the types of resolutions to make and how to keep them and the way the life of Susie B. Smith in Smalltown, USA was changed forever to the good because SHE kept HER New Year’s resolution to open a museum dedicated to the noble history of chocolate chip cookies.  (The free samples Susie B. Smith gave when you entered her museum certainly aided her success!).  You start to think that maybe you could try just one little extra resolution.  In spite of this pressure, stand firm.  Cut the thought “Well maybe I should resolve to…” off at the knees.  Think firmly “NO!  Stop the insanity now!  Not another year!”  After a while it becomes second nature.

The second pitfall is to believe that by keeping the resolution not to make any more New Year’s resolutions you are resolving never to change.  This thought adds to the pressure on you to make additional resolutions at New Year’s, since everyone wants to change for the better sometime.  Simple common sense (which is usually neither simple nor common) shows the fallacy of this fear.

Instead of never changing, keeping this one resolution frees you to change whatever you want, whenever you want at any time of the year except January 1!  By restricting yourself on one day out of 365 (366 in leap years), you gain 364(365) more days to make whatever changes you want.  Such freedom is dizzying and empowering – if you believe you need to change something in your life, by agreeing not to package it up with the New Year’s insanity, you have freed yourself to make one small change at the time of your choosing, leading up to one huge success by June 16 or October 21 or November 2 or whatever other day you might choose.

Mind-blowing, isn’t it?  So who’s with me?


From ClickArt Online, by Broderbund

Have a great day!


“Somewhere Safe”

Good morning Everyone!


I have long known that someday I will open a closet door, and in a manner akin to Fibber McGee’s closet, every pen I have ever lost will come cascading out of it onto my head, at which time I will have the fortunate opportunity to practice self-restraint by NOT swearing, but rather observing , “Behold, my head hath just been struck by one thousand three hundred seventy-eight pens in less than five seconds.”

Fibber McGee's Closer

Fibber McGee’s Closet

What I have recently discovered is that the contents of the closet will not only include pens but all of the items that I have stored “somewhere safe” over the years, only to discover when I needed an item that “somewhere safe” was so safe that it even protected the item from me.

The frustrating thing about “somewhere safe” is that once I start looking for a particular item that resides there, I see the item in my mind’s eye, and have the nagging feeling that if I just thought a little bit harder I could find its secure hiding place.


Somewhere safe?

The latest in a long list of items that I can’t seem to put my hands on is the card reader which will read Mark’s Nikon camera card.  When I was searching for the download cable, which I never found, I ran across it, and I could have sworn (another feature of “somewhere safe”) that I placed it with the other download cables that didn’t work.  It’s not there now, though.

Alien, Remote

Alien with his sinister experiment remote control

I do wonder where the pens and other stuff are being hidden until that grand glorious day when they all shower themselves upon me from Fibber McGee’s closet’s first cousin – Shangri-La, where a couple of bored monks are making life merry by watching me hunt for items they have “borrowed” through a hidden camera?  Maybe they are being stored in a secret vault buried deep in a missile silo in Nebraska or Montana as part of a secret government conspiracy.  Maybe they are being abducted by aliens as part of a sinister experiment with purpose unknown.   (Exactly how many ways can you use a plethora of pens and papers, sprinkled through with loose screws, a card reader, several books, twelve magazines and at least three chew toys?)  Maybe they are being stolen and stored by a doomsayer anxious to survive the days after the apocalypse with enough pens to see him or her through.  All I know for sure is that they can’t possibly be disappearing because I simply lose them.

Until the answers are revealed, if they ever are, open your closets with care.  I’d hate it if you got injured opening my “safe” storage cabinet by mistake.

Have a great day!


You Might Be A Working Parent If…

Good morning Everyone!

You might be a working parent if:

You ever took the day off from work just to clean your house.

You end up working third shift to complete a work project because you promised your child you would go on the zoo field trip with her.

The people at the drive-thru at McDonald’s have your order ready for you when you get there.

You consider Kraft Macaroni and Cheese to be one of the essential food groups.

Your blood pressure automatically skyrockets when you hear the words, “Mom, I forgot to tell you…..”

Menu planning for the week includes deciding which day you will be serving spaghetti, which day you will be serving fish sticks, which night is TV Dinner night and the other two week nights are reserved for take out.

You have ever wondered irritably why on earth schools can’t have their award ceremonies at 6 in the evening instead of 9 in the morning.

You look longingly at parents who do not work outside the home and think how nice their life must be.  (Trust me, it’s just as hard for them as it is for us.)

You have ever chosen a doctor, dentist, vet or carpet cleaner based solely on the fact that he or she has evening hours.

The HazMat team is on speed dial for those rare days when you finally are able to clean out the refrigerator.

They also are on stand by when you clean out your car.

They have your pantry on their watch list, also.

And, finally,

You might be a working parent if you know with certainty that insanity is hereditary – you can get it from your kids!

Have a great day everyone!


Six Words and The-House-Formerly-Known-As-Clean

Good morning Everyone!

We’ve made it to Wednesday (or at least those of us on my side of the International Date Line have made it to Wednesday; some of you lucky souls out there have already made it to Thursday!), but I’m having one of those weeks when it feels like it should be Friday. It will be kind of depressing when I go into work tomorrow feeling that it is Saturday. That Friday feeling is not helped by the fact that I have today off from work, with intentions of completing several errands and chores, which will push me even further forward, giving me the impression today is Saturday.

I'm so confused!

When I first scheduled today off, I was planning on at least getting the chance to sleep in, but that plan was scotched by 6:40 a.m. Monday, when Kayla started with the words, “Mom, I forgot to tell you…..” Any parent knows two things about those six words: 1) Your blood pressure begins to rise immediately upon them being uttered and 2) They never are followed with things like “my science teacher gave me a 100 on my test and says I could be a physicist some day.” The words “Mom, I forgot to tell you…” are used by children at convenient times of day or night such as 7:00 p.m. the day before a major project is due, or, as in this case, at 6:40 a.m., 10 minutes after she should have already left for school, when the announcement was “I have traffic duty this week, which means I have to be at school by 7:10, so I will have to be a car rider this week.” (“Car rider” is the local elementary school term for children who do not ride a bus or a day care van, but whose parents drive them to school and pick them up from school. In the elementary school world, “car riders” seem to have an elevated status over bus riders and day care riders.) That was doable, but due to the mechanics of when Mark needs to be at work, that meant that I would be dropping her off at school all this week. Hence, the sleeping in this morning, on my day off, was wiped out, for the most part.

What I did NOT get to do this morning!

What little hope of sleeping in at least another 15 or 20 minutes that I had were wiped out by Bad Dog (Mandy) who insisted that I needed to get up and feed her. She kept jumping up on the bed and licking and pawing me to get my attention. She was unable to jump on my hair, because I recently got it cut very short, but she tried every other trick in her arsenal. About the 8th time, I gave up trying to kick her off the bed and get her to leave me alone, and got up. At least she was happy! Darwin and Tyra seemed to appreciate her efforts on their behalf, also.  All three dogs, now, having been fed and let out, are comfortably asleep in their location of choice, but I am not too very bitter!

One sleeping spot, preferred on warmer days.

For the rest of it, I have a full day. One of my tasks is to pick up the-house-formerly-known-as-clean in preparation for my father stopping by this evening on his way through from Florida to Illinois. (Let me hasten to add here that the only homo sapien in our house NOT responsible for its current disheveled state is Mark; it’s Kayla and I that manage to leave little trails of stuff throughout the house, kind of like bread crumbs to help us find our way home.) I also, as part of that same process, have to convert the craft room back to the guest bedroom. That won’t be too bad, although I have since Christmas been a little lax about storing craft materials back up. I don’t think it would be wise to open any closets in my house for a couple of days, though, once I’m finished.

If I finish all that on time, maybe I can sneak in a little nap – but just in case, I intend to consume large quantities of caffeine throughout the day!

Lots of caffeine!

Have a great day everyone!


On Cupboard Doors and Closet Shelves

De’ Nile ain’t just a river in Egypt.    – Mark Twain

Good morning Everyone!

Today is my day to make confessions regarding cupboard doors and closet shelves.  I never really noticed that I have a habit of leaving cupboard doors open after I pull something out of them, until I overheard a visiting family member mutter to themselves a few months ago something about “doesn’t anyone in this house shut cupboard doors?”  I didn’t think much about it – I certainly didn’t leave cupboard doors open, after all – and then Mark, after a close encounter with one of the open cupboard doors said something else about it.  I made the natural assumption, as any parent would, that Kayla must have opened the cupboard doors and forgot to close them, so kindly reminded her to close the cupboard doors after she opened them.  After all, I certainly don’t open cupboard doors and forget to close them.  Then one day about two weeks ago while I was blogging, and I was the only one home, I looked over to my left from the table where I do most of my writing,  and saw this:

And this:

In legal terms, I think that counts as a smoking gun, and ever since that day two weeks ago have tried to do better.

I also try hard to put things back correctly in the cupboards and pantry, but in spite of my best efforts, sometimes I slip up.  I know this when I hear Mark open a cupboard door or the pantry while I am in another room, hear the soft thud of something falling out – usually on his head – and then the sounds of something akin to “Behold!  Yet another Tupperware container hath fallen on my head!”  The practical part of my brain realizes somewhere deep down that balancing a bag of flour on a can of soup, and then topping both of them off with a bag of bread or a box of Mac ‘n Cheese is probably not the ideal arrangement for stability, but the other part of me looks at the pantry and can’t figure out any other way to make everything fit.

And the Tupperware shelf!  Given the various size and shapes of plastic ware available, I am convinced that the people who design plastic ware expect the people using it to have mechanical engineering degrees to get it all to fit correctly.  I can match round to round and square to square pretty well, but then you run into oval, oblong, rectangular and super size and any chance of a decent storage system is gone!  I try (again) to keep things balanced safely, but every once in a while it seems impossible that it all will fit in correctly, so then I try to mush the unmushable bowl, and the gentle thud will happen soon after.  Sigh.

I’m working on it though; at the rate I’m currently going, I should have both the cupboard door problem and the Tupperware organization thing fixed by the time I’m 90 – or I may just borrow my friend Emily’s 11-year-old daughter, who likes to organize kitchens on a regular basis.  I’m not sure which!

Finally, here are some completely unrelated observations Kayla made this past week.

1) To Mandy:  Mandy, stop chasing your tail!  You won’t like it when you catch it.

2) To Me:

Kayla:  Mom, I’ve finally figured out what “Accio” is.   (This is a Harry Potter reference.)

Mom, originally:  Oh?

Kayla:  It lets you call things to you.

Mom:  Yes, like keys and cell phones.

Kayla:  I can see where that would be really useful, particular for you.

Have a great weekend everyone!


Not Again! (a/k/a Time Change)

Good morning Everyone!

As I am sitting here writing, listening to Tyra bark softly outside because she is ready to come back in, I am looking outside and noticing that it has gotten to where it is dark in the morning now for quite a while after we get up.  From the fall equinox until the start of winter in December, here in Alabama we lose about one to three minutes of sunlight a day, which doesn’t seem like much, but slowly adds up.  Fortunately, we still have some vestiges of light once I start home from work, which I do enjoy.  That’s all about to change.

Daylight Savings Time ends this weekend, which  means that here in the United States most of us will be moving our clocks back one hour.  This is annoying, because for at least a week I will be looking at clocks calculating  “If it is one p.m. now, last week it would have been 2:00 p.m.”  (I never said I was a particularly deep thinker!)

Daylight Savings Time is one of those really stupid strange inventions I don’t understand.  I know the reason Congress started it (in World War II, no less) was to help save energy, but has anyone really done a study to see how much energy it saves?  It seems that the energy we save by lopping off one hour in the spring should be equalled by the energy we use when we add that hour back in the fall.  I think it was Dave Barry who said something like “Try as you will, you can come up with no logical explanation for Daylight Savings Time.”  My favorite description of it, and I’m not sure whether it was by Will Rogers or O. Henry or someone else, is the comparison of it between a blanket where someone cuts off one foot from the bottom of the blanket to add one foot to the top so it will cover their head!  I really think we should just do away with it – I don’t really care whether we keep summer hours or winter hours, I just wish we’d stick with one or the other.

One of the most amusing things to do on the spring end of Daylight Savings Time is to park outside the day care of your choice and watch the kids as they enter on the first Monday after it begins.  The kids don’t care what the adults told them, they know that something about the time is not right, and it is a sleepy passel of young ‘uns that pass through the day care portals on that day.  (I suspect the adults are sleepy too; we’re just better at hiding it! )

I do like getting the one extra hour back this weekend, although each year it seems like the extra hour slides by without any special recognition.  That’s probably because I spend it sleeping, one way or another.

I am grateful to the person who invented the memory aid “Spring forward, Fall back.”  Without it, I wouldn’t ever remember which way to turn – uh, the clock, I mean!

Have a great weekend folks!


P.S.  For a while, Indiana and Arizona (I think) refused to recognize Daylight Savings Time.  Does anyone know if they still do, or if there are any other states/regions out there that have decided to march to the beat of a different drummer?  Kudos to them, whoever they are!

A Highly Biased History of Washing Machines

Good morning All!


In the beginning, humans wore animal skins for clothes.  After some indefinite period of time, but probably not too very long afterwards, Ugg, the caveman, noticed that his clothes had gathered both dirt and smells over time, and so he directed Uggette, his wife, to fix the problem, since he didn’t feel like killing another animal that day.  Uggette, who was busy tending the several little Uggs and Uggettes they had been blessed with, was having a bad day anyhow, so she told Ugg to shove off, and to demonstrate the point, pushed him into the nearby running stream.  When Ugg recovered from his shock, and got back out of the stream, he noticed two things:  1) he was very wet and 2) his clothes looked and smelled better then they did before he was pushed into the stream.  At that moment, laundry was born.

Uggette's Descendants, Washing Laundry in a Stream

Well, things rocked on for thousands of years and while inventors were busy inventing things like better stone weapons, then better bronze weapons, then better iron weapons and better stone ploughs, then better bronze ploughs, then better iron ploughs, Uggette’s female descendants were still hauling clothes to nearby streams to wash them.  They would wet the clothes in the water course, and then while the clothes were in the water, bang the clothes between rocks or place the clothes on a rock and bang them with a stick.  Not only did the banging help remove more dirt and stains than water flowing over clothes would do on its own, it also allowed Uggette’s descendants to release their pent-up hostility toward Uggette for not choosing a kinder, gentler way of telling Ugg that she really wasn’t in the mood to deal with clothing that day.

Antique Hand Iron

Things continued to rock on for thousands of years, and while new fabrics (most of which wrinkled exceedingly well, requiring the invention of ironing, as if laundry didn’t take up enough time on its own) were invented, not much was down on the laundry side until the invention first of soap, then of the washboard.  No one is really sure when washboards were invented or who invented them, but basically a washboard is a board with ridges on it.  A person lays the clothes on the washboard, and rubs a bar of soap vigorously over the clothes on the washboard.  What is certain is that the first metal washboard was invented in 1833, when Stephen Rust of Manlius, NY who either did his own laundry or loved his wife (or both) patented a “Wash Board” with a piece of “fluted tin, sheet, iron, copper or zink” on it.  In addition, someone else also invented the “wringer” which allowed the clothes, once scrubbed and rinsed, to be wrung free of water better than a person could do with their own hands.  This allowed the clothes to dry more quickly on the clothesline.  (No one is quite certain when the clothesline was invented.  I suspect one of Uggette’s little tykes was bored one day, and decided to take some of the newly washed clothes when Uggette wasn’t looking and threw them over a tree branch to be funny.  Although not amused, Uggette did notice once she found the clothes that they had dried more quickly then the clothes that had not been thrown onto a tree branch and so the idea of hanging things out to dry had been born.)

Advertisements for hand-washing implements

After waiting as long as possible, wasting their time inventing things like the steam engine, electric power generators, the light bulb, the riding lawn mower, the car, airplanes and radio, in 1908, inventors finally abandoned the grudge handed down through the generations for Uggette’s historic dumping of Ugg in the stream, and invented the first electric-powered washing machine, the Thor, changing laundry forever.

The Patent for the Mighty Thor

I suppose, if it took tens of thousands of years for the electric washing machine to be invented, I will just have to hope that my great-great-great granddaughter will live to see the day of the automatic sorter-washer-dryer-folder.  Patience is, after all, a virtue – Uggette’s story proved that!

We've come a long way but still have miles to go!

Have a great day everyone!


Sink and Sleep (or the Lack Thereof!)

Good morning Everyone!

  • Sink

Sunday evening, as I was working on supper, Kayla walked by the kitchen and announced, “Mom, you don’t want to ask what I’m doing in the bathroom.”  I, of course, gave the only logical response, which is, “What are you doing?”  Answer:  “Mom, you don’t want to know.”  After two more rounds, I did the only thing a parent could do, which was to enter her bathroom to see what was happening.

Kayla’s sink was full of water, and she had one of her big bath towels in it soaking.  I started to have a conniption took a deep breath and looked at her for an explanation, and she, grinning proudly, announced that she had decided that she was going to help me out by washing her own clothes.  Her plan was to wash them in the sink every night, then hang them on her shower rod to let them dry.

I told her I appreciated the thought, but that it would work out better to use the washing machine to clean her clothes.  Then I had to figure out how to transfer the completely saturated towel to the washing machine without getting water all over the floor.  At least she was trying!

  • Sleep, or the Lack Thereof!

Sunday night, I only managed to get about two hours of sleep.  I really don’t know why, but I just couldn’t get to sleep.  Needless to say, on Monday, I wasn’t exactly full of sweetness and light but I did try to muddle through without being too terrible to be around.  After supper though, I started to clean the kitchen, snapped at Kayla about something, snapped at Mark about something, and then dropped a TV tray on my foot.  It fell sideways where its thin edge fell directly on the bone on the top of my foot and it hurt.  I yelled something like, “Ouch!” or “Verily, verily, I hath dropped a tray on my foot and it hurteth” except on a grander scale, and Mark, coming into the kitchen to check on me, told me to leave the kitchen until tomorrow and sent me to bed, 10 minutes before Kayla’s bedtime.  I didn’t argue, either.

Have a great day everyone!