Cleaning the domain

When I was growing up, my dad (a Navy guy) had us on a strict cleaning schedule. Every other weekend we cleaned the entire house, top to bottom. I’m talking toilets scrubbed, showers de-scummed, floors mopped, rooms straightened. When we were young, our only task was to straighten our rooms. In typical child fashion, it took my brother and I just as long to clean our rooms as it took my dad to clean the entire house. As we got older, he added chores until we were responsible for cleaning our bathroom too, as well as mopping/vacuuming our side of the house. When my brother moved out, I offered to take over cleaning myself. So every other week, I put on some music and dusted, mopped, vacuumed, scrubbed, shined, wiped, straightened, and more!

My internship was the first time I was free from the every-other-week schedule and I took full advantage of it. A humorous anecdote from the time: my apartment’s shower developed an orange scum. I seriously had no idea what it was and didn’t know that could happen – that’s how often we cleaned our home. I blamed a crappy apartment shower, rather than the fact that I hadn’t cleaned it in six weeks. I didn’t realize my mistake until I was cleaning for move-out and realized that the stuff wiped away. Whoops.

Anyway, ever since moving out and being gloriously free from the every-other-week thing, I’ve struggled to find an adequate schedule. I mean, no one likes scrubbing toilets, but there’s got to be a better way other than my current mode (which is to invite friends/family over and then surreptitiously wipe down the toilet with Clorox wipes while they aren’t looking after freaking out because the smell is suddenly QUITE noticeable). Plus, I’m one of the weirdos that loves a clean house. It’s like I can’t fully relax unless the living room is straightened and the counters have been wiped down. Luffy thinks I am crazy, but I embrace it.

I say all of this because I’ve gone on a sudden cleaning binge. In probably the first time since well before the dumpling was born, all of our toilets and showers are clean at the same time. (And not just wiped-down-with-Clorox-wipe clean, I mean scrubbed-with-a-toothbrush clean.) The dumpling’s toys have been put away. The ever present entryway jumble is mostly organized. And I remember again why I love a clean home. But, you know, a toddler lives here and thus a clean home takes a lot of work. So cheers to me, for fighting the good fight. The living room will devolve into chaos as soon as the dumpling gets home from daycare, but at least he can’t muck up the toilet. Yet.

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Battling Ants

AGAIN. Yes, again. I swear to you guys that we don’t live in a hovel.

For the past few months, I’ve seen tiny black ants in – of all places – our shower. It was only ever one or two and I immediately drowned them with the shower head, so no big deal. Right? Right.

I arrived home from work Wednesday evening to find a literal swarm of ants on my kitchen floor. I have never worked so hard to not freak out, considering the dumpling was all mama! you’re home! hold me! I had Luffy vacuum them up immediately and then I made a game of getting the ants with damp paper towels with the dumpling afterwards. After we put the dumpling to bed, I tackled the problem of figuring out where these particular ants were coming from.

You  guys. They were coming from our bathroom. They traveled across our bedroom, alllll they way across the dining room, and into the kitchen where they had a field day with the remnants that a toddler leaves. I’m sure they thought they struck gold with cheerio crumbs and jelly smears and dried applesauce splatters*. But such progress! In just a day! I’d be thoroughly impressed if I wasn’t so skeeved out.

The next day I cleaned our home more thoroughly than it’s been cleaned since we moved in. I also called our pest control service. We have a quarterly service and they always say that if we have a problem between treatments, we just call and they’ll come out. Easy peasy! So I called and found out that their next available appointment is Wednesday [computerized pause] July 25th. WTH?! So I had to tackle this on my own. I bought several ant bait traps at Home Depot and put them down strategically. I then had a dream last night that I woke up to a living room overrun by ants as well. Like the antpocalypse. Luckily, that didn’t actually happen. Whew!

I’m trying my best to leave them alone when I see them now because I know the whole point is for them to take the bait back to the nest. But guys, it’s so hard to leave them be when I see them scurrying across the dining room floor. Ick!

*Speaking of, do you know how hard it is to get apple sauce up once it’s dried? I swear it’s like cement.

Polishing Up the Home, pt 5

I’ve been holding back on y’all. In my defense, Luffy and I fully realize that we’ve gone a little crazy, but I like to think y’all would too, if you had the option. And because I see the crazy, I haven’t really said anything. Plus plus, this has been in the works for damn near a year, which just adds to the crazy. And well, ….. yeah.

What’s the big news, you ask? Are we moving? Did we buy a new house? Some ridiculously over-the-top vacation? Yeah, no, none of those things. We got a new bed.

[…]

Don’t do that now! I can feel your disappointment. You were all set to live vicariously through my husband’s and my crazy decisions and I go and let you down. Hear me out:

Like I said, this story starts almost a year ago when Luffy got it into his head that we should get a new bed and [something something something] here’s the perfect bed for us! Now, I’m not even really sure how he found this bed although I think it had something to do with his favorite blogger mentioning it. I don’t really know. All I do know is that suddenly this was the bed we were gonna get, cool? The man loves sleep far more than me, so it seemed fair that he could choose our bed. My only input was that we upgrade to a king to replace our little queen. It gets a little cramped since both Luffy and I have gotten addicted to that full body pillow that was supposed to just help during my pregnancy. Sure! he said, the thing is though, we have to wait until next May. 

[???] <<< was probably my real response

And this is where Luffy launched into a somewhat convoluted explanation about a shareholders’ meeting of a parent company which triggered a big sale at subsidiary company and if you were a shareholder of said parent company, you got an even greater discount at the sale. The meeting had just wrapped up, thus we needed to wait until next year. And this is where I got a little suspicious, you guys.

You see, Luffy is a man who values his time and comfort over almost everything else. I love seeing the way he thinks a lot of times because it’s not the way most people think, even though we probably should be thinking that way. For example, you would never, ever find him at a Black Friday event because the discount is literally not worth the time invested. Now, I know a lot of people feel the same way about Black Friday, but he takes this far deeper. He discovered this tool that helps you gauge how much your free time is worth and also highlights the disparity between how much our time is worth and yet how we’re willing to spend it. (The classic example from the article is how long you should wait in line for a $100. At some point, the scales tip and the surprising thing is how little time that actually takes.) So he’s actually quite ruthless in his decisions over what’s worth his time. And as to his comfort, well he places a high value on that as well.

So to hear him say that he was willing to wait an entire year for this sale…… Luffy, how much does this bed cost?

The answer was a lot. A lot a lot. It’s a crazy amount of money for a mattress and if we waited for the sale, we’d get a ridiculous amount of money off the price. I figured he had a year to change his mind, so I’d see how he felt in Spring 2018.

Fast forward to April of this year and Luffy has us at the store, laying on the most comfortable thing I’ve ever laid on in my entire life and that is not at all an exaggeration and suddenly I’m counting the days until we can buy it (25 days) and then how much longer until it would be in our home (20 more days).

You’ll be happy to know that we did indeed survive the wait and we are now the proud owners of a king size bed and a glorious mattress that is truly heaven on earth. I also feel about 30% adultier because the bed is big and beautiful and stately. It fits right into our big bedroom and puts our previous setup to shame. Not bad for a couple of thirty-year olds!

Polishing up the home, pt 4

So we’re getting a new chimney. Um, yay?

It all started last Tuesday when the pest control guy came by. He was new (and therefore thorough) and noted that he found what might be rodent activity up on an eave. He said he’d be happy to set up an appointment for a (free!) inspection the next day. Why not? I said. Famous last words, I know.

So the inspection guy comes out and he does indeed find evidence of squirrels and mice in the attic and a hole! A hole in the chimney! We can patch that, they said. And here’s where I had to pause my little story and take a dive back through the archives in search of another story. Except I realized that I actually didn’t tell you guys this story, back in late summer 2016. I was a little preoccupied with other things, I guess. So buckle in folks!

Back in 2016, August-ish (because I’m not exactly sure how quickly I handled this issue, given I was very pregnant at the time), we looked out our back windows one day and realized that an eave had completely collapsed. To my horror, there was also a squirrel chilling there. In my memory, the furry little rodent is also giving me the finger while he ever-so-casually reclines on my roof, but that’s probably an exaggeration. I wasn’t even sure how to go about repairing this, but I distinctly remember calling my dad for advice and he brought up the possibility that there could also be raccoons and other assorted wildlife up there. He suggested a wildlife removal business and the Googles gave me a phone number. So a very pregnant me ends up outside in the August heat, going over a list of up-sells from the wildlife removal guys. They could, of course, solve me problem for X dollars, but they, of course, offered to completely wildlife-proof my house for XXX dollars. Suffice to say, we just wanted our damn eaves fixed (there ended up being a couple that had fallen).

Their work has held up over the years, though looking back on it, I do remember two problems. First, they forgot to install a new turbine they charged us for. I called them about it as soon as I got home and discovered it (the old one was damaged and thus it was very apparent they hadn’t done it). If memory serves, I actually had to call a few times to get them to come back. Ultimately, all work we had agreed upon was completed. And secondly, though they inspected and said nothing was in our attic, something had to have been because shortly after they patched the eave, a vent was busted open from the inside. Shudder. My dad ended up fixing that when he came down for the dumpling’s birth. (So nice of him!)

Anyway, when our talk turned to rodents in the attic, yet again, I called on them to give us a quote. Their inspector came out and went the extra mile by actually climbing onto our roof to inspect the squirrel’s hole in the chimney. And that’s when he discovered that the entire thing is rotting. Apparently it’s plywood, circa 1992, and it literally caves in with the barest touch. He said they could definitely patch it, but that it was only a matter of time (and honestly, probably days or even hours) before the squirrels made a new hole. And I completely believed him because even two freaking years later, squirrels still try to get through the eave that we repaired. They come up to it and paw furiously at it until I bang on the window.

And that’s the tale of how we’re getting a new chimney this week! Yay! I guess? I mean, I’d probably prefer to spend a few grand on other, dare I say it, funner things, but eh. A squirrel-free attic is probably nice too.

ANTS

We’ve always had a small issue with sugar ants in our living room (of all places). I used to find a stray ant or two every once in a while, but now that the dumpling is older (and thus, 78% stickier and prone to leaving crumb trails behind), I really have to stay on top of vacuuming and pick-up to keep the ants at bay. I’ve figured out exactly where they’re coming from and have a few tricks to head off the masses that somehow seem to sense exactly when the dumpling has left his snack container out of sight. While I wouldn’t say I’m chill with their appearance, I have at least accepted it.

However, I can’t say the same for the ants that appeared in our kitchen, just inches away from my baby’s table over the weekend.

I first noticed one on Saturday evening. It was enormous, at least compared to the microscopic black ants that journey into our living room. It was scurrying across the window bench (we have a big bay window in the kitchen). I quickly disposed of it and prayed to the home-ownership gods that it would be the only one. Maybe it came in with the mail? That happens right?

My hopes were dashed when I ventured into the kitchen Sunday morning and found dozens more. Some were already dead, caught in the spider’s web (yay spiders!!), but most were still roving through our recycling and not really accomplishing anything other than freaking me out. I cleaned them all up (our trash probably had at least 50 ants in it by the end of the day), but the next wave appeared shortly after. It was then that I made a discovery: the window ledge had a little gap and they were pouring* out from there.

*Not literally, like apocalypse style, but it definitely felt like it. stupid ants

I sent Luffy to the store for caulk and a caulk gun because NO THANK YOU. I can deal with tiny sugar ants trying to abscond with graham cracker crumbs. I could not deal with these giants trying to abscond with my baby** while he eats his breakfast.

**Again, not literally, but you catch my drift. stupid ants

And so, after we put a very confused*** dumpling down for the night, Luffy and I tackled the ant portal. Neither of us had ever caulked anything and while I’m pretty sure caulk guns are supposed to be self-explanatory, considering they don’t even come with instructions, we had a heck of a time trying to get caulk out. We somehow managed to get it to come out the back of the tube before we were successful with getting it to come out of the tip. And, after thinking several times that I had cut the opening too small, our resulting nozzle tip could have accommodated a U-Haul. Thus, my “line” is more like a tornado’s debris path. But! We successfully closed the ant portal, so take that! Stupid ants.

And how was your weekend?

***Thanks daylight savings time!

Polishing Up the Home, pt 2

More progress has been made!

Except not on any of those things I mentioned there. I’m still, uh, working on those. I need to go buy fixtures and deck repair supplies. And then schedule out an official time with the handyman (though I have at least contacted him, so that’s progress).

Instead, we mounted our flat screen TV to the wall for maximum mature-adult-lives-here-ness. And when I say “we,” I mean our friend. Because I have never hung anything that big or expensive and wanted some help. He’s an engineer, so he was allllll over the chance to use power tools and a level. Plus, I have never witnessed such an organized assembly process, and that says a lot coming from me because I like to think my own assembly process is pretty damn organized. He put me to shame there, but thanks to his help, we got the TV mounted in a couple of hours Saturday evening.

This served two purposes, really. First, the all-purpose anchors I bought to anchor the TV (among other things) were not compatible with the TV. Because OF COURSE. Second, the dumpling has already stumbled upon Jas’ patented game. If we are sitting in the living room with the TV on, which honestly doesn’t happen all that often, and he decides that we’re not paying him enough attention, which happens every single time, he’ll pound the TV with his little hands or snack cup. I get up to redirect him and he goes right back to pounding because he thinks it’s a hilarious game. Pound. Re-direct. Pound. Re-direct. Etc. So, mounting the TV not only ensured that it wouldn’t fall on him, it also places the TV out of reach. Score one for mom and dad!

So now I just need to find a nice cable organizer to conceal the half dozen cables roped between our TV and various devices. And I need to find something to conceal the power strip. And I need to re-center the TV stand, which now just holds all of our various devices and no TV. And the wall looks so bare, since we hung the TV pretty high, so maybe I can find a nice fake plant to green up the space a bit? Just a couple of things added to the to-do list.

You know, now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure this was just a one step forward, two steps back kind of thing.

Polishing Up the Home

But first – we finally figured out what it was that had the dumpling so upset last week. His molars. They are erupting. Aaaaaaand that’s probably all you need to know about how our week was last week. Aye yai yai.


I’m a pretty industrious sort of gal. Pre-dumpling, I could rarely spend an entire Sunday just sitting – I had to accomplish at least one thing. Be it laundry or lawn work or running to Target, something had to get done or else I’d feel entirely useless and adrift. Ticking one thing off my mental to-do list put me in a much better frame of mind. I could be in a funk over body image issues or deep into existential crisis mode and have my spirits instantly lifted by cleaning Jas’ litter box and picking up the groceries. Luffy thinks I am weird. (For the record, Luffy is the complete opposite of this. He puts much more effort into keeping things off his to-do list.)

This doesn’t mean, however, that I can’t procrastinate with the best of them. Take our kitchen lights, for instance. They have been in some state of flickering and/or not working for at least (does some math…. counts fingers…. realizes she is getting old) three years? Maybe more? For frame of reference, they were on my list of things to do before the baby gets here. The baby who is now almost 16 months old, yes that one. And it’s not like they stopped working a week before he arrived either. I was just really good at ignoring the issue.

Every once in a while though, I get a burst of motivation and energy for all things house-related. It started with light bulbs. I would swear that the previous owner of our home replaced every single light bulb at the exact same time because they’re all going out! Simultaneously! One in the guest bath, one in the office, one in the living room, two in our bathroom. Every time I turn around, I spot another bulb out. And of course, you can’t just buy an exact replacement bulb these days – have you shopped for lights lately? It’s all “10.4W equivalent of 60W”, or some such nonsense. And then you have to pick a color spectrum like daylight or soft white or cool white – which is great! Except when you’re trying to match bulbs that are already there. And you know what, I bet this is why the previous owner replaced them all at the same time.

Anyway, replacing the one bulb in the guest bath, led me to finally getting around to fixing the kitchen lights. I had previously discussed the basics of what I would need to do to replace the ballast with my dad (in November 2015 and I remember that clearly because we were visiting my parents for Thanksgiving, sans dumpling, so that just tells you how long these lights have been out) and hopped up to pull the ballast out to take with me to Home Depot. The dumpling and I searched high and low for a replacement ballast, but none could be found. I finally had to leave when the dumpling became bored with looking at ballasts and decided that running away from mama was much more fun. After some googling at home, it turns out we have an old-school ballast that needs to be semi-specially ordered and costs like $30/ea and my dad was like, just hold off! We’ll replace them with LED lights next time I’m down! which meant that I could go back to studiously ignoring the flickering lights in my kitchen.

SOLD!

But then! I decided that I wanted to replace the light in the utility room. It’s too dim for my liking (I want a near surgical-suite level of brightness in there). And you know, I’ve been meaning to swap the fan in the dining room with the fixture from the living room. With tasks mounting up, I decided to hire a handyman to take care of several items around the house that I’ve been procrastinating on for four and a half years.

YAY!

AND THEN. Jas woke me up at 2am, early Sunday morning, with her patented paw-aggressively-at-the-mirror trick that she has been doing at 2am all her life. It wakes me up because the mirror makes this weird noise. Because I never hung it up. Because it is really big? And I was always really nervous of hanging something that big. So it just kind of leans there. Anyway, the point is that I have had this mirror for at least five years and she discovered she could play this game with me on probably the second day we had it (I come out of bed swinging because it pisses me off like nothing else) (I am sure this delights her) (otherwise, why would she keep doing it so much). Ahem. Again, anyway, my point – guess what I did Sunday morning? I finally hung the darn thing! And then I went out and bought a little pet bed to put beneath it, as an offering to Her Highness to make amends for ruining her nightly fun.

I feel so productive you guys!