Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What Was That Thing I Needed To Do?

Around this time of year, I start to get frantic. Not because I'm not getting things done - I AM! But because of the list of things still left to do. And if I sit down and write it all out on paper, I get even more frantic, because then it's actually visible, this list, and while the joy of scratching something off is tempting, the fear of having to add two or three more things just wrecks it.

So I commit these "things to do" to memory, and then wind up waking up at 2:00am, saying to myself - now WHAT was that thing I needed to do tomorrow?

And the worst part? I am a relentless procrastinator. I don't know why I do this to myself, but I've learned over the years that I work much better under pressure. Only trouble with that is, I get high-strung having to deal with stuff at the last minute, and I get frustrated when the time I've allotted for each task actually winds up taking a bit longer than I anticipated, and then I truly do get behind with no time left to finish everything on the ubiquitous list.

Mark tries to help - he tries to put "early" pressure on me - pushing me a bit to get something started, get me off my butt, stop piddling. Sometimes it works. Sometimes just the momentum of getting started with something gets me on a roll. It's the idea of the task that shuts me down the most, not the actual "doing" it. Because for all my procrastinating - I'm also a finisher - that is, once a task is underway, I MUST COMPLETE IT.

After 38 years of living, you'd think I would have this down to a science, and would have learned to use my strengths and squash my weaknesses when things get busy. Well, the best I can say? I'm trying. I really am! Yesterday I got most of my Christmas cards written. I still need to write a few update letters for some of them - relatives we haven't seen in a few years usually get a letter. And last names beginning with Q through Z still await me. But what did I have to sacrifice to get A-P mostly done? Time with my boys. And I hate that. Jonathan in particular can almost sense when I need extra time to myself and I'm trying to get stuff done, because he picks those times to be especially needy. He wants to read, he wants to watch a movie with me, he needs a drink, he needs a hug. Then he comes in and stands next to my chair, silent, until I acknowledged him and said "Now WHAT?" And he says "Mommy, I just wanted to tell you I love you." Sigh. Well, that's sweet baby, but Mommy NEEDS to get this done!! That's what I thought. What I DID, was pull him up on my lap and cuddled for a bit. Then threw him out so I could get more done.

And right now? I'm procrastinating even more. SHOULD be getting food ready for an office party we're supposed to be attending this afternoon. SHOULD be getting more cards written. SHOULD be working on that update letter. SHOULD be making a list for the market with all the stuff I'm going to need for baking and for holiday meals and things I want to make ahead and freeze. SHOULD be putting in a few hours of work so I don't have to work tonight after dinner so we can finish decorating our Christmas tree. SHOULD start wrapping some gifts while Jonathan is out of the house at school. SHOULD do some more cleaning, more laundry. Oops. I said I wasn't going to write it all down, didn't I?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Random Cleaning Tip

With the approaching holidays, we're all looking for a shortcut or two, and when it involves cleaning, well, you've come to the right place! Don't get me wrong, my house is usually somewhere between needs a really good vacuuming and filthy squalor. It is never really and truly clean, and if it ever would be, it wouldn't last 30 minutes. But that doesn't stop me from trying. And those "trying" times usually occur right before Christmas, and sometime in the Spring if I'm really motivated. Everything else is just maintenance cleaning.

So right about now, I'm trying to get the house whipped into shape, and once again, I'm faced with 108 panes of Andersen window glass. Yes, you read right. 27 casement windows, front and back and the front and back of the storm panes as well. Not enough for you? Okay, add in a triple-sliding glass door, front and back, and 6 floor-to-ceiling panes, each one 4 feet across. I think they call them picture windows? I call them torture. Anyway, lots of glass. And with a southern exposure on most of it, that streak-free shine is tough to come by.

So here's my cleaning tip. Ditch the Windex. Nothing but crap. Forget wadded up newspaper, forget water mixed with vinegar. You want sparkly windows with no streaks, go to your local gas station and pick up a gallon of windshield washer fluid for $1.00. Voila! Get a clean rag or some paper towels and go to town! And the best thing, it takes like half the time because the washer fluid isn't greasy-feeling like Windex is, so it wipes away quicker. And it works well in all weather - and in bright sunshine.

How did I find this out? Sheer desperation. Those huge picture windows were just too much. We finally got a squeegee like the pros use, and I didn't have much Windex left in my bottle, so I spied the washer fluid sitting there in the garage, and dumped it into a bucket. Necessity truly is the mother of invention!

Oh, and one more tip. As a first step, get an old dish towel, wet it with plain water, wring it out well and wipe down the windows with that first. It removes the worst of the gunk that causes streaks in the first place, and loosens up stuff like bug poop and squashed bugs and the residue from the random bird vs. window crashes. Let that dry, and then just use the fluid to shine and sparkle.

Happy Cleaning! May all your windows be streak-free. This has been a public service announcement from the Society to Destroy Substances that Claim to Clean Windows But Really Don't. Have fun!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Who Needs an Alarm Clock, Anyway?

He did it again. Jonathan. Gorilla lungs. Mark had already gotten out of bed and turned off the alarm/radio and ventured out to make coffee. Me? I didn't have to get up this morning - no school on Tuesdays for Jonathan and both kids were still asleep anyway, or so I thought. I drifted back to sleep, wrapped up in a tangle of blankets with the dog. Then the screeching began. I tried to ignore it for a few minutes. But then the "MOMMY!" started. It was pretty pathetic-sounding. He actually sounded scared. So I went to his room, opened the door, still mostly asleep, and there was my poor little guy, all curled up and hugging his stuffed dog, wailing that he had a bad dream.

What would any Mommy do? I got in bed with him, pulled him close, told him "Mommy's here." Then he tells me his dream was about an automatic gate. He went through it, and I didn't follow him. Hmmmmmmm. I guess that could be pretty frightening for a 4 year old?

I just find it somewhat amusing that my little guy's dreams don't usually involve monsters or things chasing him or the like. No. Rather, Mister anal/fastidious dreams things like his brother tore down his tower of blocks, or his room was messy, or in one instance, the room was upside-down. Oh well - guess I'd rather have him dream about that stuff than the monsters anyway. We all have our own monsters, right?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Just When You Thought It Couldn't Get Any Worse...

...someone gets trampled to death in Walmart. If it wasn't so pathetic and tragic, it might actually be somewhat humorous, had the guy not DIED. Had the morons that ran him over not continued to shop, ignoring the requests of staff to leave the store so they could assess the situation. Had they not complained that they had stood in line for two days so they weren't going to stop shopping. People, when has a bargain been more important for the respect of human life?

Somewhere in between the wrapping, the decorations, the shopping, the baking, the parties, there has just got to come a time when people remember what the season is really about. And when that point is reached, then and only then can a peace settle over us, when we realize what all this madness is really about. It's about a tiny infant being born 2000 years ago. And all the gentleness and mystique that surrounds the story of that lowly birth, my friends, has NOTHING to do with a raging, out-of-control crowd, pushing their way into Walmart, trying to secure a bargain ahead of everyone else.

It IS tragic. But if one good thing can come out of it, let it be this: live your life as if it really mattered. Stay focused on what the important things are. Think before you act. And before you go and trample someone to death, consider if whatever you're after is really worth it.