As some of you know, Alan was gone for five days to England to have a memorial service for his dad. That left me with three very rambunctious children and a messy house. (Of course.) But I was determined to welcome him home, if not with less rambunctious children, at least with a clean house. With that end in mind, I set a timer with Anaya and we plunged into housework on Sunday night with "a mind to work," as it says in Nehemiah. After several ten-minute sessions (about all a five-year-old can comprehend, and sometimes all I can too), the house was much neater and we were excited at our progress. After the kids went to bed, I swept the kitchen and dining room myself, and was very pleased to survey a rather spotless house all around me. (Sweeping with children awake, for those of you who haven't tried it, is an exercise in futility.)
Monday morning I woke up full of energy and plans. With the house already clean, I had visions of banana nut muffins, fresh pesto and maybe some additional jobs checked off the list. I emptied the dishwasher of clean dishes from the night before's work and started the laundry. Ironing. That's what I needed to get done today, for sure.
At 9:30 school started for Anaya, so she, Aile and Lindsey headed for the office/schoolroom while I busied myself with the two two-year-olds, Seth and Brenner. Skyler and Caelum were napping, so I worked with the boys on their ABCs for a while, continuing laundry duty every few minutes and setting up to do the ironing.
The boys soon decided that dancing around the house shouting was more interesting that ABCs, so I left them to their devices. I eyed the wonderful, yummy spotted bananas on the counter and imagined how wonderful the house was going to smell when Alan got home. The boys started throwing toy food around in the playroom, but I decided I would teach them about responsibility instead of stopping them from making a mess. "Boys, remember you're going to have to clean up whatever mess you make," I warned.
I spent a few minutes on the computer and then started making fresh pesto and whole wheat pasta for lunch. The girls came out of school and wandered into the playroom. "Mommy, did you see what the boys are doing in the playroom?" Anaya called to me.
"Yes, I know. They're going to have to clean it up," I responded.
Then I heard new screams. "No! Stop throwing that at me! Mommy!" Anaya howled. "The boys are throwing dirt at Aile and me!"
This didn't sound good. I raced to the playroom to find dirt...everywhere. The boys had started digging into the huge potted plant in there and had thrown dirt all over the entire playroom--toys, treadmill, carpet and everything. You could hardly see the carpet in some places. "Augh!" I shouted. "Stop!"
The boisterous party ground to a sudden halt (pardon the pun) as the boys looked up at me in wary, although certainly not innocent, surprise. I spanked Seth, sent Brenner to Lindsey and started to pick toys out of the filth. "Seth, get back here," I ordered his retreating little back, "and start picking up puzzle pieces and toys. You're cleaning all of this up!"
The boys came back and halfheartedly picked through the mess, stopping whenever possible to giggle and sling dirt at each other. After several reminders and not a few spanks, they had done all they could do, so Lindsey and I banished them to sit in the living room for time out while we finished up with broom and vacuum.
"Mommy," Seth whimpered, "I t'irsty."
I brought both of the boys their cups, complete with lids and straws, and admonished them again to sit until they were told they could get up. Lindsey and I continued working on the playroom for a few more minutes or so, stopping every little while to race to the kitchen and continue the process of making lunch.
Lindsey was the first to notice the merriment going on in the living room. "Oh, no, you guys! Stop it!" The boys were squeezing their cups and squirting juice through their straws at each other. Both cups were nearly empty.
I snatched the boys from the living room and deposited them at the table. "Lunchtime, boys. Sit here." I plopped plates full of pasta with pesto in front of them, then looked around. "Where's Skyler?"
Hmm. Where indeed? I called and looked, then headed down the hallway. Then I heard a telltale giggle. Opening the door to the office, I found Skyler on the floor having a teething tablet party. He was scooping them into his mouth in glee. Augh! Well, no harm, other than to the teething tablet population--they're only sugar tablets with a homeopathic remedy that somehow eases teething pain. I groaned, scooped him up and headed for the dining room. Now we had another floor to clean. Returning to the kitchen, I made a mental note to sweep the laundry room too--apparently Seth and Brenner had carried handfuls of dirt in there during their dirt fight. The boys were now elbow-deep in pesto and covered with mess.
And so it went. By the end of the day, I did have three sweet, clean, pajama-clad children ready when Daddy came home. I even got the laundry folded! (Though it still hasn't been put away.) So much for ironing and banana nut muffins. Maybe tonight...