Sunday, June 27, 2010

Little Boxes

We went to Virginia last week and rented a townhouse to move into in August. We drove around the DC metro area for three days, and in the end went with the thing we had seen first. We are moving into faculty housing at GMU. The development is brand spankin' new and looks a little like Disney designed it. Even the name is a little Stepford-like - Masonvale.

Since we're moving to a totally new area to us, we decided to go with as much certainty as possible. The university is the landlord (well, a management company hired by the university); the development was built to help recruit/house new faculty, so the environment will hopefully be a little like Hyde Park; you can only live there for 1-2 years, so everyone there will also be looking for a new place to live, so who better to trade research with on potential neighborhoods and schools.
We also went with convenience. Since Masonvale is on campus, C can walk to work, which means I can have the car all of the time. Our 3 BR townhouse has a two-car garage, dishwasher, disposal, washer/dryer, and 2.5 BA! I am so looking forward to doing laundry in my own house, I am almost giddy. And I am perhaps weirdly excited by the disposal. It means less trash to take out, and the trash will get stinky less quickly. There is an old elementary school right behind the house which has a huge playground and a big soccer field to play in. Fairfax itself is still a bit of a mystery to me, but I have a year to explore it, and I am a big fan of exploring, so it should be fun.
Now I have to focus on the move itself. I have been getting quotes from moving companies and will have to start some preliminary culling and packing in the next two weeks. Ugh! I really hate moving, but I am super excited about our destination, so I will power-through.
Maybe I will look into wearing dresses with an apron, so I can really fit into my new surroundings...

Monday, June 14, 2010

We Are Family

My sister and her family were in town this weekend. We got to spend time at both the MSI and the Field museums, eat Chicago pizza, and hang out at the apartment together for some much needed bonding. The last time my sister was in Chicago, she was five or six months pregnant with my nephew. The time before that, we spent an evening dancing on a radiator at a frat party to "We Are Family," taking special care to belt out the "I've got all my sisters with me" part. It doesn't seem like that much is different each time I see her when I go home to Dallas, but when I think of how much has changed between each of her visits here, I can see how far we've both come. We both have wonderful families. She owns a house and has a great job. I'm about to move across the country to a place far away from our family and almost all of our friends. It's crazy to think I'm the same person who used to yell "GET OUT OF MY ROOM!" countless times a day to her, and that she is the person who would have wanted to keep trying to come in.
Last week I only she was coming in on an extended business trip, but she managed to score some great last-minute fares (she's extra talented at finding things like that), so the hubby and my nephew, X-man, could come out too. I was totally psyched, especially because that would mean that X-man and Wiggle would get to spend some quality time together. Wiggle was pretty much in awe of everything that the X-man did. Playing with Legos - supercool. Making the robot lizard face - completely hysterical. Reading a bedtime story - captivating.
X-man can moo, can you?

Wiggle is making a "hoo, hoo" sound, like an owl.

The visit was way too short; I wish we lived close enough to see them all the time. Luckily, we are moving to a fabulous destination city, so we might be able to finagle even more visits out of them in the future. Or maybe they can just send us the X-man for a while. He owes me a rematch in Monopoly and those games can get lonnnnng.  Whaddya say, sis?

Friday, June 4, 2010

It's All About Timing

Lately, I've been cleaning a lot. Part of this sudden urge to clean stems from the fact that we're moving in less than two months, and part of it from the fact that Wiggle is a grade A mess-maker.

In all of this cleaning though, I realized something very important. I don't really know how to clean. I mean I know the basics of cleaning, but I never learned all of the things that make a cleaning thorough.

For this gaping hole in my education, I will openly blame my mother (sorry, mom). Make no mistake, my mom is a great housekeeper. No, her crime against me did not come in the form of a messy house, but in how it became clean. You see my mom has a couple of problems; she is a personal perfectionist, and she is an insomniac. My mom was like one of the shoemaker's elves who worked through the night, and when we woke up all we saw were shoes. I cannot count the number of times, my sister and I stumbled out of our rooms at three in the morning because we heard the vacuum running downstairs. Sure we had our own responsibilities - we unloaded the dishwasher, or at least we did some of the time, we handled our own laundry, and made plenty of our own food, for breakfast and lunch at least, but we never saw much of the nitty-gritty of cleaning. While I watched my mom cook for hours and hours, sitting and talking with her in the kitchen as she made dinner, I hardly ever saw the bulk of her cleaning routine. I saw and inherited the desire for the detail work, like taking a toothbrush to the kitchen faucet, but sweeping and mopping occurred mainly by moonshine.

I know my mom would have told me how to really get in the corners, or pre-treat a stain on my shirt, but I never thought to ask. It all looked so easy for her (not in man hours, but in know-how), so I just assumed I could figure out how to do it, or that it would suddenly come to me. But I didn't and the "flash" never came, and I now realize the last time I really questioned my cleaning techniques, I was probably fifteen.

And then I had a baby.

Now I vacuum my living room rug every other day because if I don't the detritus that can be found there is large enough for Wiggle to eat, and so he does. I dust more frequently because I notice more that the surfaces are dusty. Those dusty places are where I put my coffee cup and the old battery that I'm trying to keep away from Wiggle. I've been systematically going around the house with a 4/1 bleach solution, cleaning all of the baseboards and woodwork because I have actually seen him lick our walls.But since I don't have any elf in me, I had to figure out another way to get time for cleaning into my day.

I am definitely a stuff person, I like physical things around me, so my biggest obstacle to cleaning is clutter. Now even though, I am not blessed/cursed with a nocturnal urge to clean, the clutter would certainly keep me up at night. It's just that my cleaning thoughts at night are a little crazy. You know, the weird slightly OCD ones that make you think that you can't throw out old magazines until you buy new towels for the bathroom. If you read the last sentence and thought, "what the hell is she talking about?" then you are probably normal or you are a guy. If you thought that the sentence made sense, then I can guarantee that you have at least one closet door in your house that you don't even let your husband open. The "logic," in case you are wondering, is my husband likes to take magazines into the bathroom, so I would like to give him old ones to have in there, but they should really have a place to go in there, so I need some kind of container, but what kind? Hmmm. I need a new soap dispenser to replace the one that broke, and the soap dispenser and magazine container, should "go" together, but if either of those things have any color in them, they need to complement the colors of the towels, and I need new towels because my current ones have bleach stains on some of them, so I can't go through old magazines yet, because I don't have a place to put them. It's crazy, I know. But that's what happens to me when I stay up all night and try to clean, I just get one of those thoughts after the other, until I've made more of a mess than I started with. So since I'm not naturally an elf cleaner, I needed to find another kind of magic.

My magic is a timer and a hokey website. Actually, with a toddler, I don't even need to set a timer most of the time. I just try to do a small enough task that if Wiggle leaves the room, I can finish in enough time that he hasn't injured himself in the interim. One tiny thing at a time, I clean the house. In order to stop myself from the crazy thought train, I turned to the FlyLady. Do not judge me. Even though, the constant "bless"-ing terminology turns my stomach a little. It has good advice. Also, more importantly for me, it tells me what to do - every day. I never walk into a room, and think "How do I decide what to do first?" because she tells me. I love not being responsible for planning my cleaning routine or deciding what to do at every turn. I love just doing what comes next on the list, and I generally do. It turns out, it doesn't take a lot of time to keep the house in relatively good condition, as long you do a little bit all of the time. I love being a grown-up and realizing that I don't care if a website that helps me is homespun hokey; the important thing is that it helps me.
Sporting a new 'do.