Masthead header
  • One mom’s quest to simplify life in order to savor living.

The Ugly

Upsplash1For me, this post is a tough one to write.  It is raw and real.  It is airing my dirty laundry – waving it for all to see.  It is out with the excuses, in with the ugly truth.

It is time to list the shortcomings of this home, and for this, I need to tread with caution.  I need to be gentle with myself.  I must write this list with grace and love, with patience and kindness.   I will write this list by myself – no need risk my kids seeing this as a negative.  I need to write this list with anticipation, because this is my first step towards rehabilitation.

This is a list of what is not working

  • The clutter in our home.  There are things everywhere.  Everywhere.  Under foot, under bed, under piles.
  • The  excess of projects.  There are baby books to make, school papers to sort, holiday decorations to be packed away in the attic.  Not only do these projects take physical space, but they take mental space.  They exhaust me.
  • The expectation of being cleaned after.  The other day, #2 was chewing something that he apparently did not like.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him grab that bite out of his mouth, and toss it on the floor under the kitchen table.  On the floor.  Whether he assumed I would clean it up, or didn’t even entertain the thought of it being cleaned at all, I was flabbergasted.
  • My anger, resentment, and outbursts about out home.  I live with it, notice it (usually after tripping on a pile on the staircase, or stepping on a strawberry on the kitchen floor), then react with anger and bitterness.  It is unfair of me, and my kids pay the price for my lack of intentional living.
  • The time spent on “cleaning”.  Realistically, I spend many, many hours a day cleaning, picking up, etc.  HOURS people.  It is inefficient, it is unacceptable.
  • The isolation.  My mind is dancing with plans for get-togethers, book clubs, playdates, and barbeques.  Yet, they never come to fruition because it just seems like too much.  I don’t want them over until my home is acceptable, and since it will never be acceptable, it simply doesn’t happen.  I return to my standby, “let’s meet at a park!” instead.

 

2014 – Housewife Rehab Goals

The first step to rehabilitation was admitting that what I am currently doing is simply not working.  Find my admission here.  Be forewarned… it is not pretty.

My second step was to make a list of concrete home goals for my family.  Last night, the husband and I gathered the kids (the three who are old enough to be able to participate in such a conversation).  We made it fun…  Chocolate chip cookies, milk, a cleared-off table, and a notepad.  We took turns discussing what was not working in the home, without blame.  Then one by one, we shared what visions we had for our home.  This included both physical goals, and relational goals.

Kitchen

  • Purge all non-essential kitchen gadgets
  • Introduce a dish-washing routine
  • Introduce a table setting and clearing routine
  • Meal plan
  • Be a more efficient shopper
  • Recruit kids to help make dinner
  • Introduce a lunch-packing routine

Bathrooms

  • Purge all non-essential bathroom items
  • Introduce a bathroom cleaning routine
  • Weekly towel wash

Laundry

  • Introduce a laundry routine
  • All laundry put away at end of the day

Bedrooms

  • Nightly tidy routine
  • Weekly vacuum
  • Bi-weekly linen wash
  • Purge all non-essential toys, trinkets, clothing

Strawberry Parfaits

Years ago, I began attending the local chapter of M.O.P.S.  If you aren’t familiar, it stands for Moms of Pre-Schoolers… as in moms of little ones who have not yet started elementary school.  We dressed all cute, dropped the kids off at their assigned childcare room, grabbed a cup of coffee (hazelnut creamer, please), and settled down with our fellow mom table-mates.  We listened to inspiring speakers (people, for several hours after each meeting, I was the BOMB of a mom – like super sweet let’s-make-homemade-playdough and snuggle), but mostly, we brunched.   I must have sampled 300 varieties of quiche, and to this day, if I eat a bite of quiche, I am instantly back in M.O.P.S. mode.

And when it was your turn to bring breakfast for your table, you delivered.  I’m talking no-holds-bar, multi-course, multi-colored, served in every adorable basket or dish you could think of breakfast.  Something that tasted devine, but could also accomodate the vegan, the celiac, or the lactose intolerant.  And when someone brought something that knocked our socks off, there were nine other women ready to pummel her in order to get the recipe.

Yes, we M.O.P.S. gals take our brunch seriously.

DSC_9804w

When my friend Julie brought her famous strawberry parfaits one day, I knew that this recipe was a keeper.  These babies have since made their appearance at other M.O.P.S. meetings, (new year, new table… they never knew I wasn’t original), family get-togethers, baby showers, and summer barbeques.  They work as both breakfast and dessert.

And so, without further ado…

Strawberry Ricotta Parfaits

DSC_9815w2

This recipe makes about four servings

4 cups sliced strawberries, divided in half (frozen strawberries work well, too)
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup cream cheese, softened (whipped works well)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup crushed cookies (I use Nila wafers)

whipped topping on top, optional (I skip this)

DSC_9795w

Place 2 cups of strawberries and granulated sugar into a blender or food processor, and process until smooth.  Set this puree aside.

Combine ricotta cheese, cream cheese, powdered sugar, water, and vanilla in a mixing bowl and blend well.

Spoon 2 Tablespoons cookie crumbs into each parfait glass (or plastic cup, if that is how you roll).  Top each portion with 2 tablespoons strawberry puree, 1/4 cup sliced strawberries, and 3 tablespoons ricotta mixture.  Repeat layers.  Drizzle on any remaining puree.  If desired, add whipped topping or slivered almonds.

CONSUME.  The perfect marriage of tangy, sweet, and creamy.  To die for.

DSC_9814w

My Story

If I were a gambler, I would bet you are sitting in front of the [insert tech device here… computer, tablet, phone, etc] while SURROUNDED by chaos.

Dirty dish sitting next to you?  Check.

Piles of paperwork on the desk?  (Hello, long lost bill!)  Check.

Maybe a mountain of laundry next to you on the couch?  Check.  (But it’s clean!!  Mmm hmm.  Mine, too.  Nice start.)

And I bet you are reading lovely blogs on organization and shiny sinks and color-coded ribbon storage and households that run like well-oiled machines.

And the shame and guilt and overwhelming pressure settles in like a heavy pit in your gut.  And you feel LAZY.

But here is the deal.

I am not lazy. and neither are you.

In fact, if I were a gambler, I would bet that we could not be farther from lazy.  In fact, my friend, I am quite certain that perfectionism is what was killing me, and quite possibly is killing you, too.

It is overwhelming, and it feels like a fire I simply couldn’t put out.  And so I would rather sit down, read perfect-home blogs that buried me deeper in shame, and eat a gooey brownie that went right to my hips.

But then I realized:

My sink will never shine.  Well, not unless Helen Housekeeper shines it for me, and since the thought of cleaning house before Helen came was too overwhelming, I can say with certainty:

My sink will never shine.

And that is okay.  I don’t need it to shine!

I am not after perfection, or color-coded, or smelling like lemons and bleach.

I am after order, and consistency, and good-enough.  I can do good-enough, and so can you.