The Patio From Hell

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09 May 2010

Hitting the Big Time

Well, I guess hitting the big time would mean we were booked on Oprah, but for me personally seeing my vision of room swapping come to fruition was pretty huge for me.

Michael the Task Master

After cleaning out my office, Jennifer and Shannon (and especially Michael) would not rest until the whole project was done. So the following Monday we gathered here again, but this time back to "normal" with a house full of kids. I have to say, I like it that way.



We jumped right into dealing with the giant desk in what was my office/closet/hovel. It was too big to fit out the door intact. Jennifer is the most mechanically minded and tool adept, so she took the lead on the desk demo. We had that beast demolished in no time. The fact that we had workers here fixing rotted wood on our deck meant that we were able to add the demolished desk bits to their existing scrap pile headed to the dump. This pile was located conveniently right outside my bedroom window.


Don't throw the baby out with the desk bits!


We relocated my desktop to the upstairs great room, a move I've really enjoyed. The computer is in the middle of the goings-on in the house now, and I am forced to keep my desk clean.

The desk out, we we able to vacuum the office now closet(or rather employ a nearby child to vacuum it), and installed a new shelf with a hanging bar to match the other two in there. We gathered Joe and my clothes and shoes from their previous various locations around the house and viola! we had a closet!







The move also freed up space in other closets! (Funny. Organizing this closet that Stella is in was the very first Cleaning Club project we did at my house. And there we were undoing it.)

With the office relocated, the room swap could happen. Jennifer and Shannon (and Michael) came back on Saturday, while Joe was out of town, and we completed the move. This was no small task. We removed all the doors from their hinges, and moved several big pieces of furniture. Just trying to figure out what order to do things in was enough to make my brain freeze up and I'd have to control, alt, delete and then hard reboot to make it work again.





Things looked stalled for a moment when we couldn't get the couch through the doorway of the old den, but we finally figured out that the legs could be screwed off and there was much rejoicing. And because Cleaning Club encourages doing things right, and Michael won't stand for anything less, we vacuumed every inch of carpet, wiped baseboards as we went, and even sucked out all the crazy stuff that gathered under couch and chair cushions.

Michael the Clean & Tidy

It took three hours but the results were so utterly worth it.

My new den.



My new bedroom.



I could have never, ever been able to do this by myself. The fact that my friends seemed almost as excited about this for our family as I was was such a bonus.

Joe came home Sunday night and was blown away. He could not get over the fact that S and J had been willing to put so much effort into the project, and that we'd pulled it all off.

I feel like I'm in someone else's house, or at a fine hotel in my new bedroom. I love that I have a view of the woods now, and there is enough space for my dog to sleep on the floor at the foot of our bed and I don't have to climb over her to get into bed. Our mornings are so much more streamlined, and I think it's especially helped Joe to be able have all his clothes in one place.

The new den works just fine. We'll look for some smaller furniture so it's not so crammed in there, but for now it totally works. Michael kept muttering that the chi was "all whack" and tried to push his Feng Shui ideas on me but I was all, go play with your toes or something! It's going to have to do for now! And he did, cause he's a good baby like that.
Michael prioritizes.
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24 April 2010

Looking for a Change

We've been in our house for almost seven years and I guess we're getting itchy.

Joe and I currently have the smallest bedroom in the house, which you may remember also houses the laundry room. At one point recently, Joe broke down and was all I work so hard and I sleep in the laundry room and I don't even have my own closet!

I started thinking creatively and decided that I really don't need my current office/closet/hovel. I don't need 90% of what's in there. All I really need is a surface to put a computer on and a surface to write on. That done, we could switch our bedroom with the room we use as a den and suddenly we'd have a grown-up bedroom! With a private door to the bathroom, sliding glass doors out to our own part of the deck, and beautiful view of the woods! But, most importantly, we'd NOT have a washer and dryer in our closet, we'd have a real live closet! A big one. One that can house Joe's huge stash of shoes!

It was a totally bizarro world Cleaning Club that day. The timing was weird, and for most of the time there were only three children here. Wha?! Yeah, it was weird.

The task at hand was helping me finish packing up my office/closet/hovel. I'd already packed several boxes and they were sitting, abandoned in the foyer.


We figured out where everything was going and moved several boxes to the garage and all the donated stuff Jennifer loaded up in her truck and took to donate for me (have I mentioned what a huge relief her willingness to do this is to me? I have, so pay better attention!)

We packed up the rest of the stuff in my office, dealing with where everything should go and talking me through the emotions involved in packing away so many years.


We found new places for things, got rid of stuff, and in what felt like no time my office/closet/hovel was empty (short of the giant desk that will need to be disassembled in there. See next week for Cleaning Club: The Demolition Edition!).


It was really amazing what we got done in a little over an hour. Stuff that I'd walked by over and over all week, not wanting to deal with carrying it all to the garage, and not really even knowing what to do with half of it, was cleared out and the task completed with what felt like only minimal effort.


This is the crux of cleaning club: It's practical, it's personal, and damnit I'm going to go ahead and say it's downright revolutionary.
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29 March 2010

Hell's Kitchen Redeemed

Okay--this slack was my fault--but after this Cleaning Club--the Shannon family got a wicked bad stomach flu, and then another round of sickness, and then the fussiest period of Michael's life.

This week we gave my kitchen a very thorough cleaning. We moved and scrubbed all of the appliances. Cleaned all the cabinets. Scoured the sink. Shined the faucet and knobs. We even hit some base board action. It's one of those jobs which doesn't need to be done too often, but which I never on my own seem to get to.

So without anymore freakin' ado---here is the photo fest from that day way back many weeks ago.

dirty stove and microwave

shannon & rachel scrubbing

Shannon got her nails did. Kinda.

michael was not himself

Pat was hanging with the little boys

clean stove (including under the knobs!)

clean vents and cabinets

clean sink & faucet

clean baseboards
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They've Got My Back

unmade beds

When my turn came up this time, I realized that I too really needed a whole-house clean-up again. There weren't any big projects in major need of being done, and we had not had a chance to put the house back together after the crazy weekend. So when Rachel & Shannon arrived, we got right to work on the dishes and the floors and the laundry.

dirty floors!

baskets of laundry

shannon doing dishes

There were baskets of stuff to go downstairs,

stuff needing to go downstairs

and week-old dust mop leavings to pick up. (Yuck! I know.)


After Cleaning Club was over and I was walking through the house taking pictures, one thing kept running through my head: how supported I felt. It occurred to me what a wonderful gift it is to my family to have these two other people who know just where everything is and how we operate in regards to the house. If I were to become ill or have to be away for some reason, they would be able to  come in and help whip things into shape if needed. They know where things are kept and where the cleaning supplies are, and since lunch is always a part of our weekly meetings they even know what my kids like to eat! We talk every week about the struggles and victories we've been having with each of the kids, and what our routines are like every day. It is like having two backup moms on hand, briefed and ready to go- just in case.

clean parlor

So as we clean floors, fold towels, and do dishes, we are also supporting each other in so much more than that. We are protecting and nurturing each others' families, by knowing each others' space so well.

towels put away

And I love that I have finally gotten to the point where I am able to not hover over Shannon & Rachel so much, worrying that I should be doing the hardest parts or that they won't do it right. This week when I said the dishwasher needed to be emptied, Shannon got right to work in there and when I said the floors needed to be swept/vacuumed, Rachel tackled that. I was able to go down and fold several loads of laundry and get things put away that were laying around the house. Rachel folded towels and I made the bed, and was even able to give the bathroom a quick cleaning! I didn't stress over what they were doing- I was just thankful for their help and used the time to get as much as I could get done as well.

clean bathroom

When they left, the house felt peaceful and orderly- ready for a new week. I am so thankful for those extra backup Mamas.

Somehow a picture of Michael did not get taken during this visit, so you'll just have to settle for this one that I took last weekend at BreastFest. Squeeeeaaalll!
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24 March 2010


This post is long overdue. Several things were going on that kept me from getting my post up last week. One of which included picture issues. I don't want to blame anyone, so let's just say it rhymes with Bennifer borgot her bamera. So, I took my own pictures. Then I couldn't find the camera when I was ready to post. Then I just clean forgot to post (see how I masterfully worked in a Cleaning Club pun right there in the middle of that shameless blame-shifting paragraph?).

And also? I became an aunt (by blood. don't want to discount any of my twenty lovely nieces and nephews by marriage)! Here is a picture of my daughter with my new niece Cora.

Cora's much anticipated birth came a week after her due date, while I was anxiously waiting in the hospital waiting room as planned. Where anxiously waiting in the hospital waiting room as planned equals away on vacation. So, when I got back there was much baby holding and baby sniffing and such to be done and by the time Cleaning Club arrived on Monday morning, I just needed help. Period. On no particular project, but just in general.

The house was a wreck. The luggage was still out. The laundry was strewn about. The dishwasher needed emptying.

Michael, of course, was in the thick of things.

We emptied and put away the luggage in the attic, and processed laundry.

We emptied the dishwasher.

Jennifer vacuumed the rugs.

Shannon got a wild hair and tackled the spider webs on the front porch.

Michael was cold chillin'. In the cutest pose possible.

Getting unpacked and cleaned up really helped me feel ready for a week of intense baby visiting and the final days before a breast cancer fundraiser I'd been working on for months. It was perfect. (Not getting my post up before the next Cleaning Club rolled around, not so perfect. )
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