Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Spring Cleaning

[Image Source]
Springtime has finally arrived in central Pennsylvania. I think I can speak for most residents here when I say: finally!  It's been a long time coming, as it has been in much of the northern parts of the country.  We had one of the longest, coldest winters I can remember.  April was chilly and rainy; until recently, the most springlike day we'd had was my husband's birthday, two days before the equinox in March!   These last few gorgeous May days have been a most welcome respite.

Spring weather brings to mind spring cleaning.  I hate cleaning.  I deeply admire women who enjoy sprucing up their home.  The results excite me; the process finds me kicking and screaming the whole way.  I've always been like this, despite growing up with a mother who loves to keep a clean and tidy home.  (And while I don't think she loves the process as much as some people, I know it does give her satisfaction.)

Reluctant as I may be, however, I can't ignore how the bright sunlight streaming through our windows accentuates the dust on the furniture and the grime on the floor. I'm forced to take note of the fact that I've been wearing the same few short-sleeved tops that I left in my little closet when I packed away my summer clothes last year to make room for heavy sweaters.  We have an extra bedroom that we don't heat in the winter to save money, so we shut the door: that room is now cluttered with leftover boxes from online purchases I've made during the past few months.  Don't even mention the word "basement" to me.  That's an expletive.

So spring clean I must.  Truth be told, even for someone like me, washing and scrubbing and organizing isn't so bad when I can enjoy a warm breeze and some bird songs.  The prospect gets me thinking: is my house the only thing in dire need of a good cleaning job? 

Ha!  No, of course not.

So, in the spirit of probably taking on more responsibility than I can handle, I've decided to work up a great big spring cleaning plan for myself, focusing on these areas:

1. My home
Maren wrote about learning to love your house and to consider it as part of your life's work.  I don't love my house.  I tell myself that it's partly because it's not mine, anyway: we're renting, and although I'm grateful we were able to find a place that functions as well as this one does for us on a limited budget, it's not a house I would have bought.  But that's a cop-out.  This house is still our home, and I should treat it that way.  As I've said, it's a mess, so it's time to do something about that.  I think my best course of action here is to take small steps.  It can be very hard to do certain routine maintenance around the house with an eager, mobile 10-month-old around.  When I sweep the floor, she follows me around, trying to eat the debris.  Washing the floor is impossible if her dad's not around to distract her.  She's afraid of the vacuum cleaner.  When we're in the bathroom, she likes to play with the toilet paper, the contents of the trash can, and anything else within reach.  The only jobs that I can do with relative ease when it's just we two girls at home are dusting and cleaning the kitchen, so I need to make a point of doing the other work when my husband is around. 

2. My look
I have a lot to ponder for this one!  I've always enjoyed wearing makeup and trying to dress "cute," whatever that means.  My closet has a good number of pieces in it, but many of them are old, worse for the wear, and well beyond their prime.   I don't have much in the way of discretionary funds these days, but I'm hoping that I can slowly start to build my wardrobe with high-quality, flattering items that will last me for a long time.  I'm also eager to look into learning some better tricks and techniques for applying makeup.  When it comes to making one's best appearance, I've had a lot of fantastic inspiration from other blogs lately: Sarah provided some ingenious advice about ways to find your own style, Betty wrote about building a high-quality wardrobe on a budget, Lindsy told a story about her first time shopping at the Gap (for herself, not just her kids), and Jen offered some great insights on the basics of makeup in a guest post on Betty's blog.

3. My soul
Sigh.  Spiritual dry spell on aisle weez.  Maren and Bingley's Wife recently posted about the importance of daily prayer, and I completely agree.  I do pray daily, basically following the ACTS (adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, supplication) pattern, although for me it's more like aCTS, since I have always struggled to express my adoration in words, yet am able to heap request upon request (not that the latter is a bad thing).  I know I need more, though.  I haven't been to daily Mass since my (doctor-provided) due date (Baby Girl was five days late according to the doctor, but one day early according to me).  I used to attempt the Rosary during my half-hour commute to work, but I stopped trying that when I stopped working almost a year ago.  It's clear to me that I need to make some changes, but I'm having difficulty figuring out what that should be.  My plan for now is to devote time to spiritual reading -- I'm planning to start with this book about the Eucharist (I just need to order it) -- and go from there.

There are many other facets of my life that could use improvement, for sure, but I think focusing on these three right now will really make a difference and do wonders to make me a better wife, mother, and woman.  If you have any advice for me, please don't hesitate to let me know.  Prayers are most welcome, too! :)

Addendum: I started working on my "look" today by wearing a denim skirt (don't worry, I'm still pro-pants, I just felt like being feminine), only to accidentally pull a Sharon Stone on a gaggle of mothers sitting at a picnic table as I got out of the car at a local park today.  I don't think they noticed, and I was wearing underwear, but still.  Awesome.

Another addendum: the following conversation ensued when my husband got home from work.
Him: I worked on a lot of different things today -- I coded, I did some grantwriting, I went to a lecture, I prepared for my summer class...
Me: Me, too.  I, um, got dressed, got the baby dressed, heated up the leftovers, went to the park...um...and I didn't really clean, but I blogged about cleaning!


  1. I love this post! I am not a huge fan of cleaning, but I try to keep on top of it, because I get stressed out when I can see the dirt (and mostly dog-hair) accumulating.

    Your conversation with your husband sounds a lot like mine, haha.

    I am also having a spiritual dry spell, and I think that's part of the reason why I was having "the mean reds" today.

    Let me know how that book on the Eucharist is!

  2. Thanks for this post! I am right there with you. I actually did some cleaning today after watching 10 mins of the show "hoarders" while folding laundry. It was my motivation, not that our house is that bad but still.

    I usually get my rosary in while breastfeeding...lol seems to be the only quiet down time. I too miss daily Mass, use to go every day before my son Dominic was born and now it is a rare occasion. I will be joining you in this spring cleaning. Reading about the Saints always helps me...St Gemma is the best!

  3. "Basement" is an expletive over here too! :-)

  4. Hehe. I love your convo with Colin at the end. Whenever I have a particularly constructive day I get so excited that I try to relate it to Gary when he gets home. And...well, let's just say it sounds similar. ;)

    And as far as spring cleaning? I'm definitely ignoring the sunlight streaming through my windows. Mostly because I have the blackout curtains drawn. It makes me feel way too guilty when I see how disgusting my house is but know there is nothing I can do about it. Most of the cleaning that needs done I can't wear Riley for and she hates being put down.

    I am, as you noted, making an effort to spring clean 'my look,' as well. Though today you wouldn't know it as I'm sporting last night's pajama pants, a nursing tank sans bra, and one of Gary's zip up hoodies. I do not forsee a shower in today's forcast, but likely I see a smelly, shower-less trip to the grocery store after nap time.

  5. That book looks great! I'm adding it to my long list of to-reads. :-) And thanks for the links to the pants-or-no-pants articles. That gave me a good laugh.