Friday, October 9, 2009

Fall Cleaning

We've been slowly ramping up GL's new med this week. He's still not getting all the sleep he needs, but he's getting more than he was. He's still frequently unpleasant, but more tolerable than before. I even had a decent night's sleep one night—the first in months.

I read with envy the chicken soup exploits of the Domestic Goddess. I can throw together a pot of chili that's edible (the chili, not the pot) follow a simple recipe, and even improvise if I find I'm missing an ingredient or two. But when it comes to planning a meal that: (pick any two)
1) we haven't had three times already this week
2) can be made without a special trip to the grocery store
3) can be on the table soon enough to qualify as the next meal, so we don't have to skip a meal
4) my family will actually eat,
we RazzleFlabben couldn't think of a cardboard box. And while you're at it, could you make it economical, nutritious, high in fiber, and low in fat and calories? Sometimes I wish this were an old-fashioned full-service gas station. (Or service station. Remember those?) All I'd have to ask is, "Regular or Premium?" (or Unleaded for those people with fancy new cars) and, "How many gallons?"

Feeding GL is relatively simple. He has self-limited his diet to Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Jif peanut butter & Great Value Strawberry Preserves on Sara Lee 100% whole wheat bread with the crusts cut off, Corntown extra butter microwave popcorn, and Dean's chocolate ice cream. He eats at random intervals, but at least he usually knows what he wants. If you think he eats this way because we cater to him, you've never lived with autism. He makes his own sandwiches, but I cut off the crusts. If I don't, he tears them off, and throws away more bread than he eats. He spreads some peanut butter and jelly on the bread, and a little on the counter. Whoever decided to carpet the kitchen must not have had kids. You can mop a hard floor, but how do you get jelly completely out of the carpet? My feet are always sticking to it. He pops microwave popcorn. I'm not ready to let him use the stove or scoop his own ice cream.

BB is simply a picky eater. Even his favorite foods he will sometimes eat and sometimes not. When I cook, I make enough for him, but it's up to him whether he eats it or waits for the next meal. MB works a split shift, so she eats with us once a day at most. And she's on a special diet. So although I've already cooked for GL, unless I want Mac & Cheese again, I'm cooking for myself. With limited time, energy, and creativity, I need a plan. I've heard good things about Once a Month Cooking and Dinner's in the Freezer, but I haven't got a whole day to spend on cooking, not even once a month. We've had some success with the Crock Pot slow cooker, because I can make a big batch and reheat portions as needed, but lately, when I need a meal, I need it now, not three or four hours from now. I just haven't had the energy to plan that far ahead. So we end up eating the same three recipes over and over.

Today I was somewhat more rested, GL hurried through his school work (he was eager to watch a movie) and BB got down to business, and mostly left GL alone. So right after lunch, I got to work on some slow-cook potato soup. It was ready in time for supper. After supper, I even got the rest of the soup into Tupperware (actually Smart Spin containers. Dishwasher and microwave safe. They nest together on the included carousel and all three sizes use the same interchangeable lid. Buy these and throw all your mismatched Tupperware away!) and the crock in the dishwasher before bedtime, so I can make up a big batch of something else tomorrow. At this rate, I'll always have a selection of meals in the fridge that I can microwave in a few minutes!

After I got the soup in the Crock Pot, I felt so good about it, I started my Fall Cleaning. "Don't you mean Spring Cleaning?" you ask, "and isn't this the wrong season?" No, I mean Fall Cleaning. After you've been cooped up in the house all winter and are beyond cabin fever, ready to go stir crazy if you have to spend one more minute within these four walls with these impossible people, can you think of a stupider way to use the first warm, sunny spring day than inside, cleaning house? And who's going to notice, anyway? As the weather improves, everyone wants to spend more time outdoors. By the time you're back inside for any appreciable time, the house is already dirty again.

Now on cold, rainy days in October and November, when you just had all summer, and usually some good weather in September to be outside, you don't miss being out there; you've had your fill. It's not that cold out yet, but it's wet and windy. Your domestic environment is showing signs of months of lick and a promise housekeeping. You have summer clothing and equipment for summer activities to put in storage. You have stuff that has somehow multiplied when you weren't looking and is beginning to crowd you out of the house. The look of the place has gone from lived-in to depressing. And you'll be spending the majority of your time indoors for the next few months.

Quick, before Thanksgiving, when you'll get too busy, pick an area and get to work on making it more livable. Move the furniture and vacuum under it instead of just around it. Declutter! Gather up the stuff you don't use or love and donate it. If no one will take it, throw it away! "But I spent money for this!" you say, "I have to keep it to get my money's worth!" That money is already lost. Don't throw good money after bad. You will be richer without it. We call this process "making the house bigger". Just think how much it would cost to build an addition that would give you the added space you get from clearing this stuff out. Now think of the added taxes you'd pay to earn that money. And the added property taxes on your house for the added space. And the added income tax on the money you earn to pay the added property tax. By clearing stuff out, you're getting all that added space for free!

Before you think I did this all in one day, let me say I only started on one room. The kitchen. I dusted, which I do once a year. I vacuumed that nasty carpet. I moved the fridge and the dishwasher and vacuumed under them. I cleaned the outside of the dishwasher, microwave, fridge, and oven, I wiped down the countertops and stove top and cleaned the sink. If I have this kind of energy tomorrow, I'll start cleaning the inside of things.

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