Move It Mama Monday! Clean House Or Exercise?

Oy, this almost didn’t get out today. I got hit with something yesterday that involved a very painfully swollen lymph node in my neck, plus a ton of other aches and pains all over my body. I’m thinking this was a result of too much work, too much working out, and not enough sleep. My knees have been bothering me all week. Those last couple of workouts on the EA Sports Active 30-day challenge were not easy on the jumping and squatting and lunging. Plus, I switched to the heavier weight band the week before and that probably contributed to the sore arms and shoulders. Top all that with a day at the beach, a day at a friend’s pool party, and some massive deadlines that had to be met, and I was one beat mama Sunday. No wonder then that I slept through my alarm and dragged through this morning.

However, I did perk up enough to get some exercise in. Given my knee problems, I opted to forgo EA Sports Active today and stuck with a combination of Wii Fit and DDR. I love the workout mode in DDR. I set the target number of calories I want to burn and then fail badly to hit the right arrow combinations as I stomp mercilessly all over the mat. My DDR skillz suck, but I do work up a sweat, and the kids get a laugh out of watching me flail around like a demoniacally possessed monkey on speed. In fact, on at least one occasion while I shook my booty to the cadence of DDR, Michael did consider calling in a priest to perform an exorcism on me.

But that’s not what I really wanted to talk about today. Today, I have yet another wrinkle in my routine to iron out, and that would be house cleaning, or the lack thereof. I try my best to keep this place neat, but I suck at house cleaning the way I suck at DDR. Yeah, I can do it, but once again, I flail around like the aforementioned demoniacally possessed monkey on speed.

My problem with house cleaning is not that I don’t know how to do it, but that I don’t know when to do it. We all know there aren’t enough hours in the day, right? Well my hours in the day start at 5AMish (like some others I know), and usually end around 11PMish (though I’m trying to get back to that 9PM bedtime, really I am). In between those times, I write, cook, exercise, fold laundry, play with the kids, cartoon, blog, do more writing, record, podcast, do even more writing, work on art commissions, promote my work, etc. I have a hard enough time some days finding time to clean ME, let alone the house, so the house work sort of falls by the wayside most days. I do try to keep up with the kitchen and the vacuuming and the laundry, but that’s about as good as I can do. I just can’t seem to find half an hour more in my day to do a simple chore like dust one room, and frankly, even if I did dust one room, then I have to remember which room I dusted so that if I remember to clean again the next day, I don’t end up dusting the same room twice.

I had signed on at one time with Fly Lady. Fly Lady is cool. Here is a woman who’s worked out a system to get housework done in bits and pieces. She is encouraging, she is helpful, she has her act pretty much together. For a few months, I was doing good following the Fly Lady system. The problem was, those few months occurred prior to the birth of Pixie, and once Pixie was born, it was all down hill from there! I think the reason Fly Lady worked for me at the time was because I was nesting (even though I swore at the time I wasn’t), getting my house ready for my upcoming addition. During those few months, I had no problem waking up at 4AM without needing an alarm and throwing on my clothes so I could go clean the house. Yes folks, I was cleaning house at 4AM. I was soooooo nesting.

But I can’t do that now. Now, I do my best to get up at 5AM so I can grab a quick shower and write for an hour or two. Then the kids are up and it’s breakfast, laundry, outside to play, back inside to work out, time for lunch, time to read stories, time to sit and work, and oh my god, is it really 6PM already? Crap, I haven’t even started on dinner yet!

Yeah, that’s my day. Just about every day, too.

So what am I going to do? I’ve thought that maybe I ought to give up some of my workout time to clean, but my weight isn’t were I’d like it to be, and quite frankly, I hate giving up workout time. I sure as hell ain’t giving up writing time. As for cleaning when the kids are outside… well, we don’t have a fence around our backyard. I don’t mind sending the kids out to play while I’m in the kitchen or the living room where I can keep an eye on them, but I sure as hell am not going to let a six-year-old and a three-year-old play outside by themselves when I can’t keep an eye on them. Just doesn’t seem like a smart idea.

I’m not sure what to do. House cleaning is one of those activities that would burn calories, although not as many as a good 20 minutes playing DDR will. I need to see what I can fit in. Maybe if I can get the kids to help me…

Or would I end up cleaning up after them in addition to any other house cleaning I’d be doing?

I got no solution here. Will keep thinking about it. I’m hitting the hay now, so I hope everyone has a good night.

Episode 32 – Laundry Karma

I know, I know. It’s about damned time, isn’t it? All I can say is I’ve been swamped… by laundry, among other things.

It seems to be a rule in my house – if there are piles of laundry waiting to be washed, dried, or folded, my world must be in total chaos. If, however, I can manage to get the laundry done and folded and keep up with it every day, then life goes smoothly. I call this laundry karma. It’s sort of like feng shui, only instead of rearranging the furniture, I have to deal with detergent and dryer sheets and dirty socks.

So while the laundry has been piling up these last several weeks, I’ve been doing my damnedest to churn out stories for the Heat Flash Erotica podcast, make cover art for one of my publishing clients, and attend various conventions. I wrapped up convention season on Memorial Day weekend with Balticon, and what a blast that was! Viv and Chooch from Into The Blender hosted a webcomic/podcast novel party where people where invited to come dressed as their favorite cartoon characters. Guess who I went as?

Since Balticon, I’ve been going nuts trying to keep up with work and Princess’ school. I swear, her class had more parties in the last two weeks than a high school graduating class on a trip to Cancun! Today was the last day of school though, and that means no more having to quit work at 3PM to be at the bus stop for a few weeks. We do have two weeks of afternoon swim lessons coming up, but I can deal with that because I can take the netbook or my drawing pad with me and knock out some work while Princess swims (Pixie will go into the nursery so I can have an hour of peace and quiet). But after that, we are home free of obligations. I’m keeping summer simple this year, with plans to garden, hit the local swimming pool, visit a few local museums, and in general get back on track with writing and cartooning. Here’s hoping I can get into a cartooning groove and stay there!

Things I Found While Cleaning Pixie’s Room

If you were following me on Twitter today, you might have noticed the list of things I posted as I shoveled out Pixie’s room this afternoon. For a two-year-old, that kid owns a lot of crap. It’s not my fault, I swear. I don’t buy that much stuff for her or her sister. But my mother on the other hand… Grandmama is not happy that she lives so far away from the grandkids, and she compensates by sending them loads of packages full of toys and clothing, and she even sends the prizes she gets from kids’ meals at the fast food joints she eats at (not kidding on this one; we currently have more Rally’s toys than an actually Rally’s restaurant has at any give time).

With the changing of the seasons, I had to clear out the old winter clothes from Pixie’s closet and put in the stuff we saved from Princess’ wardrobe. That’s a huge headache for me. I know it saves a ton of money, but I have having to sort and store all that clothing. We simply don’t have enough boxes for it all. And remember, my mom buys these kids clothing in BULK! We used to get a package a week, filled with little dresses and outfits, until I made her cut back.

Anyway, I decided to spend today cleaning out both kids’ closets, only I got into Pixie’s room and realized I also needed to sort through her toys and clean up a few messes, so I ended up only doing her room. And while I was cleaning and swapping out clothes, I found a few interesting things, like…

An old maternity top of mine. It’s a lime green t-shirt from Old Navy. I owned several of them when I was pregnant with Pixie, and thought I had gotten rid of all but one, that one being the one I was wearing on the day I went into labor. I kept that one for sentimental reasons. Now that we’re contemplating child #3, I wish I had kept them all.

The knitted yellow hat Pixie got at the hospital when she was born. It was the first article of clothing that kid ever wore, and it suited her. She had a touch of jaundice and was about as yellow as the hat. We had to lay her naked little butt on a blanket and scoot her from one sunny spot to another around the house for the first week she was home. She didn’t like that, and she announced her displeasure with a lot of explosive, projectile poops.

Several small brushes and combs for baby hair. Neither of my girls had hair when they were born, so these have never really been used.

One pair of nursing pads. I used to own a ton of those things too, and will need to stock up for child #3. God I hated wearing those things, and I hated wearing nursing bras, but now I want all that stuff back!

My breast feeding log for Princess. I put Pixie’s in the cedar chest in my bedroom. I didn’t realize the notebook I’d used to record all of Princess’ feedings was still in the dresser in the nursery. Now that really brings back some memories — late nights, trying to stay awake, swollen boobs, falling asleep in the glider, twelve feedings or more a day, a lot of those feedings spent scribbling madly in a notebook or typing stories on a computer. And yes, I’ll do it again gladly with child #3.

A dozen flannel baby blankets. Word of warning to new and expectant mom — you cannot have enough flannel blankets. Between leaky diapers, spit up, and other mishaps, new babies go through about five a day. You will do laundry constantly! I never gave away any of the flannel blankies I got during Princess’ first months, and I’m very glad I still have them. However, I did give away…

Cloth diapers used as burp clothes. That was stupid. The only thing we went through faster than the blankets was the burp clothes. I can still recall how they smelled, that slightly sour odor of spit up and the slightly sweet odor of fresh breast milk. I over-expressed with both kids, and stopped more than a few spray-a-thons by slapping a burp cloth over the offending boobie.

In the toy department, I found some interesting odds and ends. Namely, I discovered that Pixie and Princess own enough Barbies and Little People to repopulate the entire world should the Apocalypse ever occur and we are all wiped out. Please for love of God, if you have any intentions of giving my children a gift, do NOT give them Barbies, Barbie clothing, or any Little People. We’re full up.

In the Barbie basket, I did find a couple of badly tattooed dolls. Pixie loves to color on her dolls with magic marker, and unfortunately, even the washable stuff is permanent on Barbie dolls. She also got into her sister’s Style and Curl Barbie head, and did a real number on that…

However, I noticed some of those markings are a little too well made, and I suspect Princess may have helped out with this makeover. I don’t care though. This damned thing has been a thorn in my side since the day we got it, and I’ve been looking for an excuse to toss it. I keep finding all the little rhinestones and barrettes all over the house, and honestly, a six-year-old does not need to apply makeup to anything. Nor can she really style the hair. Except for the marker makeover, this thing has mostly sat on the floor and collected dust. So today it was, “Hasta la vista, you painted tart!”

Speaking of tarts, I also found this in Pixie’s room…

Poor Steve. That dress really doesn’t fit him. But at least he has pants. None of Pixie’s other male dolls are that lucky. Most have a shirt, but no drawers, and some only get a pair of high heels.

Once I got past the toys, I was able to start moving boxes of clothing off the spare bed we keep in Pixie’s room. That’s when I discovered Pixie’s latest adventures in art…

Yeah, it’s marker. I spent so much time doing everything else today that I did not have time to scrub it yet, so I don’t know if it’s permanent or not. But I’m thinking either way, it’s time to take away the markers from Pixie again.

At last I got to the closet, where I pulled out a ton of old winter clothing, all of it 2T. In addition to her sister’s hand-me-downs, Pixie also got new clothing from Grandmama, so I had to do a culling of the clothes. Anything with a stain went, as well as anything I recalled Pixie would never wear. She’s big on comfort, so if she wouldn’t wear it, I doubt the next child will either. Then I got rid of a few things that were just ugly. Yeah, I’m picky, but with so many clothes to store, I needed to be. I got everything down to just three boxes, one of which was nothing but frilly little dresses Pixie will never wear again. I remember those dresses. Her sister wore them too. They were a big part of Princess’ wardrobe when I was pregnant with her sister. I’m sad to see them go.

There were new dresses to put in though, lots of pretty, colorful summer dresses, enough to keep Pixie happy no matter how many times a day she tries to change clothes. As I put those in the closet, I cleared out some tchotchkies that were lying around on the top shelf — wall plaques with Sweet Memories sayings and stuff like that. I know they were gifts and keepsakes, but I don’t hang on to stuff like that, and never did put any of that stuff up in either child’s room. So those went in the give-away bag. May they find a good home! Then I found the stuff I would keep no matter what — the christening dresses my mom made for each girl; the matching blankets she crocheted for their baptisms; a doll with a crocheted witch’s costume, also made by my mom; my old doll house, given to me by my grandmother when I was about Princess’ age; a Gimbel’s box full of Louis Marx Wild Animal toys, again a gift to me from my grandmother when I was very small. Those things stayed. Then while I was finishing putting stuff away, I found one last treasure.

A set of hospital bracelets. Two were mine. One was labeled, “Madden, BG… 2003.”

Pixie turns three in a few more weeks. I looked at that tiny little bracelet, remembered how small she used to be, and I cried.

Made it damned hard to finish cleaning up, I tell you.

Redecorating = Love and a New Toilet

The Feng Shui in our home is off.  Or maybe it’s the Wang Chung.  I dunno, I always get those two confused.  Anyway, everything is all higgledy-piggledy in la casa de Madden to the point that I don’t know what goes where or what happens in each room.  And why is that, you may ask?  Because…

We are redecorating.  Nothing major, just a fresh coat of paint on the downstairs walls.  And new paint on all the trim.  And the doors.  And then Michael’s tearing up the floor in the foyer and the downstairs bath so he can put in new tile.  And then maybe when all that’s done, he’ll finally put the toilet back in downstairs.  You know, the one he took out two years ago?  Right after our darling pixie Sam was born?

Yeah, that one.  So it’s not a BIG job because we’re not replacing furniture, but maybe it’s a big job because Michael’s doing all this painting and ripping up the floors and tiling and re-toileting stuff.  Oh, what am **I** doing?  The most important job of all – keeping the kids out of his hair.  And out of the fresh paint.

I love my husband, and he loves me.  And I will be so grateful when we get that downstairs toilet re-installed that I think I will take that man to bed…

And let him sleep for a week.  ‘Cause he’s gonna need it.

It’s A Dirty Job And Guess Who Gets To Do It

Yeah, I know. I suck. I haven’t been making regular posts like I ought to. There is a verra, verra good reason for that and that reason is…


Let me explain. No, that would take too much time. Let me sum up (sorry Inago, but that line’s too good to pass up).

I live in a HUGE house with one husband, two kids and three cats. I am apparently the only person in this ENTIRE house who knows how to clean. Fortunately, Michael is the only person in the house who knows how to do yard work, cause I ain’t doing both.

Michael isn’t too huge a mess to clean up after, but he has two problems that will probably send him to an early grave on the day I finally snap. These problems are: 1) he insists on throwing his socks into the hamper from the other side of the bedroom, even though we all know his aim sucks rocks; and 2) he has forgotten how to load his dishes into the dishwasher even though he used to be the responsible adult who did it every day. Perhaps this is payback for all those times I used to forget how to load the dishwasher. If it is, he better knock that shit off, because I am going to take revenge on his underwear very soon if I continue to find random forks, plates, glasses, etc., scattered through out the house (unless they’re my random forks, plates, glasses, etc., because even I am not that petty).

The kids are a slightly bigger mess. Cassie leaves her toys, clothes, books and shoes all over the place and can’t seem to understand that it’s her job to clean them up. And she can’t figure out how to clean stuff up unsupervised (read “with Mommy standing over her threatening to take away her Barbies and her movie privileges for all eternity if that stuff is not picked up right now!”) “I’m too tired,” she’ll whine, when I tell her to clean up the mess she left in the living room. “You have to help me!” Oh, I’ll help you all right. Give me a cardboard box and I’ll help you cart those toys to Good Will! No, just kidding. Really. But don’t tell Cassie that.

Sam is still too young to understand how to put toys away, although we’re working on that. But her biggest problem is that she thinks throwing food is the current big Olympic sport and she intends to get a gold medal someday real soon. I have scraped food off the high chair, off my chair, of the dining room table, floor, walls and ceiling, and off of one of our cats. I’m considering repainting the entire dining room and cat in a generic spotty beige so you can no longer spot the stains from Sam’s energetic eating techniques. Just as soon as I manage to wash today’s lunch out of my hair.

So the husband’s a bit messy and the kids are more messy, but really, the biggest mess is coming from the cats. Or rather, one of the cats in particular.


**Sigh.** This is hard. I’ve had Fritti for fifteen years. He’s a big orange and white striped tabby that has very little brain but looks absolutely gorgeous and he knows how to make a girl feel special, even though he was neutered at a very early age. At least, that was what he used to be like. Now he’s fifteen and he’s become crotchety-old-man cat with a serious case of diarrhea. He’s been ill for over six months now, and yet is still alive and getting around. But the diarrhea has gotten really, really bad. So bad that two weeks ago I had to banish him to the garage for the foreseeable future, and no, I don’t think he’s ever coming back out of there unless it’s in a shoe box.

Fritti has lost a LOT of weight. I can clearly count his ribs and vertebrae, and that’s not good. I feed him at least 15 oz. of wet food a day, and he gets all the dry food he wants (which is about zip, because he hates the stuff). He gets plenty of water, too. And all of this is just going straight through him and coming out the other end in a truly frightening fashion. This started being a problem back in April, and back then I figured he might only survive another month, but some how he has continued to hang on. He’s still getting around, is still bright eyed and obviously aware of what’s going on around him. He still likes to be brushed and petted, but he’s quit using the litter box and he’s turned the garage into his personal dumping ground. Although that’s better than when he turned the entire rest of the house into his personal dumping ground.

I put Fritti in the garage two weeks ago, mainly to keep him isolated from the other cats because I had to add medicine to his food every time I fed him. In the course of two weeks, he discovered that he likes to defecate all over the area where the garage door meets the floor. That is not exactly an easy place to clean. I have to open the door just enough to run a hose into the garage, then spray the garage door to wash away any poop that stuck too it before I can completely open the door to spray and scrub the floor. Add to this the fact that it’s summer, and diarrhea bakes into stone pretty quickly on a hot day, and you’ve got one really nasty mess to clean up.

Well, **I’ve** got one really nasty mess to clean up.

I spent all afternoon yesterday cleaning up the cumulative mess that still existed even after I spent an entire week scooping up poop and mopping the floor. I put Fritti in a bathroom so I could throw open the garage door, haul everything out, and scour the garage floor. Some messes were baked so hard I couldn’t get them up no matter what I tried. Because of where he’s making the messes, half the poop ends up on the smooth concrete floor of the garage up against the door (hard to clean, but not impossible) and the other half gets embedded in the concrete and stone mix of the driveway (thus impossible to clean without a sandblaster). I spent THREE HOURS scrubbing my garage floor! And parts of my driveway. And the place still stank when I was done, but by then I was exhausted and getting high on cat poop fumes so I had to quit.

I took Fritti to the vet this morning. We’ve upping the current level of meds he’s getting, plus adding a new one. A fourth medication is on order. He’s also getting hypo-allergenic food to eat. Michael and I are taking the kids out of town this weekend, so I’ve had to arrange to have Fritti boarded at the vet, because there is no way in hell I can justify asking my neighbor’s kid to clean up after that cat. It’s just too messy, and at this point, it would be cheaper to pay the vet to handle Fritti rather than pay a teenager to come clean up poop three times a day (although the teen in question is very responsible and has never complained about cleaning up after Fritti in the past, but I feel so guilty about asking her to do it that I pay her twice what I would normally pay).

Fritti is on the decline. I don’t know if anything I’m doing will help him or not. He’s now also having problems with one of his rear legs, probably because he’s got almost no muscle tissue left to support it. I do think that he’s gained a tiny bit of weight, but that’s probably because he no longer has to worry about contending with the other cats when he eats.

I wish there were something I could do for my poor cat, beyond having him put down (it’s the obvious answer, but one I’m not ready for yet as long as Fritti can still get around and he doesn’t seem unhappy). We’ll have to see what the next two weeks brings.

The Early Bird

Know what I love about getting up early in the morning? I woke up at 4:45 today and so far I’ve nursed Sam, cleaned two piles of cat poop, folded the laundry, dusted the downstairs, made my bed, got Cassie up and dressed, fed myself and the kids, cleaned up the kitchen, bathed Sam, and taken a shower. And it’s only 8:30 AM! Go me!

Know what I hate about getting up early in the morning? It’s 8:30 AM and so far today I’ve nursed Sam, cleaned two piles of cat poop, folded the laundry, dusted the downstairs, made my bed, got Cassie up and dressed, fed myself and the kids, cleaned up the kitchen, bathed Sam, and taken a shower. God I’m beat.

Sisyphus, I Feel Your Pain

I spent three hours yesterday morning cleaning my house – vacuuming, sweeping, taking out the trash, scrubbing litter boxes, folding laundry (lots and lots of laundry). Then I spent another hour that evening scrubbing my kitchen until it sparkled. I was so thrilled with how clean the place looked and smelled. This morning, I put in another two hours, scrubbing cat puke and baby spit-up stains out of the carpet, washing windows, wiping down both upstairs bathrooms and doing yet even more laundry. By 1 PM when I left to work out at the Y, my house was pristine. When I got back at 2…

Sigh. I hate cleaning. I always swore to myself that I would not end up like my mother, spending every weekend on my hands and knees scrubbing the house. I swore I wouldn’t spend entire days just washing and folding load after load of laundry.

What the hell happened to me?

To make things even worse, I got nothing else done this weekend, including artwork. For some reason, I cannot seem to lever myself out of bed early on the weekends. I don’t know why. It’s not like I stay up any later on weekends than I do on weekdays. I just can’t seem to get moving. I wonder if the problem is that weekends are just so chaotic. No matter how hard Michael and I try to impose some sort of order on the day, we just can’t seem to put together a plan and make it happen. I wish I knew how to change that, because it’s getting to the point where I hate dealing with weekends.

Okay, I will take that last statement back. I did get to do one thing I enjoyed this weekend, and that’s go to the Norfolk Botanical Gardens with Michael and the kids. It was a wonderful afternoon and I’m grateful for the time I got to spend with my loved ones. I just wish the rest of the weekend hadn’t rolled over me like a twenty-ton stone.


In lieu of the artwork I didn’t do this weekend, here is what I completed last Thursday. The first two images have been posted here previously. The third is the image in its current state. I’ve taken the bed scene and worked out the perspective in Corel Draw, adding details like the bedspread and wall decorations so I can print the whole thing and trace it by hand onto a sheet of drawing paper. Then I’ll scan the traced image back in and start working on digitally painting the final image. Yes, I’m going around my ass to get to my armpit with this one, jumping back and forth between digital and traditional methods, but it’s the only way I can figure out how to do this particular image. It’s ass-backwards, but that’s what happens when you don’t plan things out. No wonder this frickin’ thing is taking forever.

Reclining Figure, September 2006

Beautiful Bed, rough draft, October 2006

Beautiful Bed, perspective draft, November 2006

Cynical Woman Meets The Fly Lady

So much for my attempts to write a daily blog. Yesterday was pretty well packed though – an eight-hour birth preparation class followed by dinner with friends. I was up from 5:30 AM until 11:30 PM, and just about died when we got in the door last night.

One of the worst forms of torture for a pregnant woman is sitting in a hard-backed, hard-bottomed chair. I spent eight hours in one yesterday for the birth prep class, and let me tell you, it was no picnic. After the first four hours of class, my ass and thighs felt like over-ripe tomatoes getting ready to burst. When I finally got to bed last night I was so sore and swollen I thought my pelvis would crack open and my legs would fall off. It doesn’t help that the baby is sitting fairly low right now, and pressing down hard on my cervix (which has not yet effaced or opened up). She’s constantly kicking and setting off contractions, which only adds to the joy. I swear this kid is trying to punch her way out of me. Either that or she’s using my cervix as a trampoline. Ain’t pregnancy fun?

But enough about that. I want to talk about something very important. I’ve found a new mission in life. I’m going to be a domestic goddess.

Stop laughing. I can hear you.

This isn’t a joke, and unlike what several very annoying people have told me, it’s not some weird form of pregnancy nesting. This is an urge born out of necessity. Michael and I agreed it just wouldn’t be right to have Cassie room with an infant, mainly because they’d probably keep each other awake all night and make our lives a living hell. So we decided to move Cassie into a bigger room. The only room available was, unfortunately, my office, which I’ve had ever since I quit working for other people six years ago. I hate working for other people. Other people are morons who make my life miserable for no good reason whatsoever. But that’s a topic for another day. Anyway, I’ve had this office for years, and it was huge. Plenty of space for me, my computer, my technical books, my art supplies, and my sewing machine. Yep, life in that office is pretty good. And suddenly I have to give it up. You can imagine how thrilled I am to do that, especially since it means I am going to have share office space again with my darling husband for the next couple of decades.

My husband’s office is in a very small room above the garage that is not properly hooked into the household ventilation system. In winter, it gets no heat. In summer, it gets no A/C. Not a great place to sit and work at any time of the year. Plus it’s overflowing with tons of boxes and computer parts that my darling dearest has been collecting ever since I moved out of that office six years earlier. Why he keeps this stuff I will never know, but I don’t dare throw anything out because it might be important. Don’t ask me why six-year-old software we don’t use anymore might be important. We’ve just got to save it, along with the cardboard box it was shipped in.

So anyway, we had a serious rearranging of rooms to do. Move Cassie from the nursery into my office. Move my office in with Michael’s. Prep the nursery for the new baby. For about a month, we’ve had furniture going in and out of rooms, boxes of books scattered everywhere, art supplies coming out the ying-yang (and no, I will not define ying-yang; you either know what it is or you don’t). It was complete chaos, and I hate chaos. And in the midst of all this, I had to notice that the floor of Michael’s shower stall was turning black and we had a pink ring inside the mouth of each toilet in the house. Eeeew!

Suffice to say, my whole house needed cleaning. I spent one Saturday working on the master bathroom. Remember how painful I said it was for me to sit through the eight-hour birth preparation class? This was worse. I scrubbed and scoured and mopped and wiped and scrubbed some more until I thought my fingers would peel back off my hands and fall dead to the floor. After several hours, the floor of Michael’s shower slowly turned medium gray, but refused to reveal the original white color I remember it being when we bought the place. The pink rings in the toilets did disappear with a little careful scrubbing, but after nine or so hours of hard work, I was faced with the fact that I had only managed to clean one small room of the house, and the rest of the place was still mired in misplaced furniture and books, and coated in dust. There was no way I could continue to clean the house the way I had been. I had to get my act together and quick, before the baby came along and everything turned into a complete disaster and the house had to be condemned.

Enter the Fly Lady. This woman has got to be the opposite of everything I’ve ever been. She’s a cheerful, perky, freaky cleaning dynamo who loves everybody and wants people to feel the peace of a clean home. She loves inspirational e-mails and testimonials, her favorite color is apparently purple, and she’s got to be the biggest goodie-two-shoes house frau I’ve ever seen.

And I’ll be damned if her house cleaning system doesn’t work like a charm.

It’s crazy, and I seriously didn’t think it was going to work, but I started out with her baby steps and over the past month have slowly built up a routine that has transformed the disaster area I call home into a nice, clean, livable space. I’ve had to put in a lot of extra work, above and beyond what the Fly Lady calls for, because I’ve got to get things cleaned up before the baby arrives in June, but not nearly as much work as I would have done if I’d just done things the way I always do, which is to scrub my fingers to the bone.

What really freaks me out is that ever since I started doing this house cleaning routine, I’ve been waking up at 5:30 AM, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I’m actually putting on an apron and running down the stairs to start cleaning at the butt-crack of dawn. It’s ridiculous! And Cassie has started getting up with me. She seems to think the cleaning is a new game, and she is constantly pestering me for a rag or feather duster so she can go play ‘clean da house.’ It’s freaky to watch, especially when she decides to dust the cats.

I don’t really know what’s going on here, but like I said, the house is clean, which it hasn’t been since we first moved in eleven years ago. As for the moving around of rooms that started this gig, Cassie’s room is all set up. The nursery is clean, just needs some baby things put in it, which will happen next week, and my half of the teeny-tiny office above the garage looks clean, at least. Michael and his boxes of computer parts can live in the other half. I don’t care. Speaking of Michael, his shower stall floor did eventually revert to its original white color, a fact that leaves me flummoxed every time I walk into that bath room. The house isn’t quite cleaning itself yet, but I’ll be damned if it ain’t getting there.

So Fly Lady is the antithesis of Cynical Woman, but Fly Lady knows how to clean house and Cynical Woman ain’t gonna sneer at that. ‘Cause I know that once I’ve got this place running on automatic, I’ll have more time to get back to doing what I enjoy best – writing porn, drawing dirty pictures, and bitching about the world in general. And that’s really all that matters in the end.

Tomorrow’s topic – how many remotes does it take to turn on the TV in our house? Too damn many!