Archive for Around the House

I Miss My Housecleaner


A little over a month ago our youngest daughter, Hilary, left the nest.  She moved out on her own, got her own place, flew the coop, and is loving her new-found independence.  We’re very proud of her getting out on her own, however it has left me in a bit of a pickle that I had not contemplated too seriously.

For quite a few years now, since everyone graduated from high school, we have had certain “twenty-something” rules and regulations that we have expected the kids to abide by while they are still living at home.

Our rules started like this-
Rule #1:  If you’re living at home and not going to school you will pay rent.
Rule #2: If you’re living at home and going to school you do not have to pay rent.  This was our incentive to be in school, working on your college degree.
Rule #3: While you are still living at home you will be expected to do weekly chores. ie- housecleaning, yard work, pool maintenance.
Rule #4 – If you have friends’ over when we are not at home – The Golden Rule is- No Police, No Fire! Period.

These were the top Four rules.  Of course we expected everyone to be respectful of each other’s space, and live life according to Rules 1,2,3 & 4.

The Rent Rule has been modified a few times over the years.  That’s a parents prerogative.  After all we pay the mortgage.  The second generation rent rule was that everyone paid rent.  It did not matter if you we’re going to school or not.  But, if you we’re going to school your rent was reduced a bit each month.   And we also give a rent credit for the monthly housecleaning skills, and landscaping skills.

As of this year,  the third generation rent rule has seen the abolishment of the rent credit completely for going to school.  But we still do offer a rent credit for your “helping out around the house” maintenance skills.  Oh,  and I should clarify this offer goes out to any of our kids still living at home only, not just anyone who needs to rent a room.

Now,  back to my housecleaning story.  The rent here could not entice Hilary to stay any longer.  She was anxious to be out on her own in the cold, cruel world.  Which meant MY days of avoiding the weekly housecleaning chores were coming to an end.  While Hilary was here doing the weekly cleaning I would usually tackle a big, deep cleaning project once or twice during the month.  This was a great routine, and it was working like a well oiled machine.

Now those days are no more.  My cleaning lady has flown the coop, and I have to resort back to the old days of cleaning the house on my own.  It’s not exactly like the olds days though.  There are only three of us living in the house now, and at one time we had seven of us here.  The bathrooms don’t get as dirty, the floors don’t get as yucky as they used to.  And, luckily I have time to spread out the cleaning during the week if I want to.  No weekend cleaning for this gal!

When the kids were all younger, and I was working full-time we would spend two hours on Saturday morning cleaning the house, and getting our chores done.  The music would be blaring, and everyone had specific chores.  In two hours we would get most everything done and call it a day.  Then we’d move on to our weekend time.

So, even though my little birdies are one by one flying out of the coop we will survive.  The housecleaning will still get done, although I will miss Hilary’s cleaning playlist.  And the bonus for us right now is our landscaper still lives at home, for the moment.  Hopefully he will give me ample notice before he plans to move out.  After all, I’ll need time to hire a gardener.

How are or did you handle your twenty-something’s living at home?

Miss Madison

1-IMG_0020-006Our beautiful,  baby granddaughter is already 6 months old.   She is growing and changing so quickly that I wanted to share a little pictorial of her life from birth to six months.

Madison is the rock star at our family parties, and wants so badly to be running around with her big brother, Evan.  She is already sitting, crawling, and pulling herself up on the furniture.  My daughter calls her “the little daredevil”.

 This collection of pictures was taken by almost everyone in my family.  We love to post and share our pictures on our family Facebook page.  It’s a great way to share the family happenings with relatives who don’t live near by.

Isn’t it amazing to see the transformation of this little being in one group of pictures. I get a little awe-struck every time I look at all of them, and think,  we were just welcoming Madison into the world last November.  Wow!

1-6 month madison

The sweetest moments with Madison are the moments her big brother walks into the room.  Evan says a sweet hello to her, and Madison’s face lights up with a huge smile.  That’s the kind of moment where you just want to put the world around on “pause” for a while, and savor the love that surrounds you.

The Grocery Paradigm Shift

grocery picFor many, many years our grocery budget always seemed so out of control.  Managing meals and buying groceries for a houseful was always a daunting but necessary task. Trying to keep the grocery budget under control and being able to  provide good meals for everyone was part of my weekly life mission for such a long time.

Now,  we fast forward to only one of our twenty-something’s left in the house with us.  Being minus a few bodies to feed is beginning to open up a whole,  new grocery shopping world.  This is a big deal for us because we had been so used to feeding an army for so, so long.  Particularly when the boys got to their teen years- Yikes!!

Pre-empty nesting,  lots and lots of ground beef or ground turkey was purchased.  Lately we have been eating a lot more steak, of the New York strip variety!!  Travel Man gets home from a trip and he likes to grill.  So of course we run over to the store for a couple of steaks.

Also, our hot dog menu has changed.  Pre-empty nesting,  I would only buy whatever hot dogs were on sale.  ( I’m on a budget here people). Now, since there are a few less bodies to feed I only buy Hebrew hot dogs.  These hot dogs used to be a “special ” treat for us because they are a little more expensive when you are feeding an army and trying to keep on a budget.  Do you realize how many hot dogs a family of seven can eat in one sitting?  The other reason we only buy Hebrews now  is that it is the only hot dog Travel Man will eat.  He has been working in the hot dog manufacturing plants.  Only all beef hot dogs  in our house.

We have also discovered that everything, and I do mean everything is better with butter.  For such a long time we bought the ginormous tubs of margarine at SAMs Club.  Nowadays we are buying the little tubs of butter, and I am cooking with butter all of the time.  Yum, yum so much more flavor in the food when you cook with butter.

At the rate we are going with buying ourselves the goodies we like,  the budget for groceries may not be dwindling anytime soon!!  Travel Man actually brought this to my attention in the past few days.

The one thing we are looking forward to is switching over to organic milk.  This is a silly little thing, and we would  probably be ok taking that plunge now.  But we do not want to go whole hog in our first month of The Great Grocery Shift.  We do need to leave a few food treats until the next month or so.  We should have some delayed gratification right?

These are just some simple, little changes with the groceries.  However,  they are noticeable and distinct changes.  I suppose for me because it is signaling a change in the times in our home.   A change of routine for sure, and a definitive change of lifestyle.  Kind of like a rite of passage.  We have made it  through the child-rearing years, and are coming full circle into a time all our own.

Our Nest is Minus One.

A little over a week ago one of my twenty-something’s flew the coop and went out to conquer the world all on her own.  Hilary has lived away from home before, but this time she’s striking out on her own to live the independent life.  I’m a little worried about her (because that’s what I do), because of her seizure in February.  But when you have kids with chronic conditions you have to let them go, let them learn to be their own person, and let them find their independence.   Just like all of your other kids.

The way the family dynamic has changed with the kids moving out on their own is not something I had really ever contemplated too much.  I knew it would happen someday, one day; way, way, way down the road.  And now suddenly here it is staring right at me.  When you are in the throes of raising your kids, and working full-time you don’t always have a lot of time to ponder these thoughts.  If you’re like I was, you would put your nose to the grind stone, get everyone where they needed to be on time, and then you moved on to the next day.

Now,  with only one of the birdies left at home it is sometimes, slightly strange getting used to the quiet, calm, and peacefulness of the household.  I can remember the times when we would be having dinner, going to someone’s school event,  getting homework done, and then getting ready for the next day.  It could definitely be a tiring grind, but in the end, as a parent, always rewarding in one way or another.

It seems as if I am rambling on here, mixing new experiences with old memories.  I think the new experiences bring some of the old memories back to life momentarily.  At least that’s what happens in my head.

I can remember back to a few conversations Travel Man and I had when the kids were all in high school.  We would talk about one day, someday having the house all to ourselves.  At the time we had those conversations it seemed like those years were a million miles away.  And it’s funny now that, that time is right in front of us it seems like our time with all kids with us under the same roof,  through all of the ups and downs, was so short.  Here and gone in the blink of an eye.  That is such an irony for me.  Just a crazy, crazy irony.

Entering this new phase of life has been interesting for me.  It’s been a learning experience for me to let the kids go, and do and be.  I always, always wanted each of them to be independent spirits, and successfully find their way in the world.  But I have to admit that letting go of the “mom cord”  can be very difficult.  I am doing it though.  I’m working on getting back to some old hobbies that had been neglected, and discovering new hobbies.  It’s a whole new world for me.  A new world at home, and a new dynamic added to the relationship with the kiddies that have flown the coop.

One thing is for certain though, the love you have for your kids never, ever fades.  They may think that it wanes occasionally, but it never does.  It is and always will be unconditional.  Nothing stands in the way of a Mother’s love for her children, no matter how old they are.

Our Pets and Their Hierarchy

It’s a new day for the animals at The Party House.  If you have animals like we do, and you have both cats and dogs like we do,  you will understand what I am talking about here.  The animals have a pecking order, a hierarchy about them.  They have a certain way of treating each other, or in our case, ignoring each other, and a certain way they interact.  It can be incredibly entertaining.

Let me introduce our cast of characters.  First, and foremost is Tiger, the cat.  The Queen.  She is the queen of the roost, and always, always lets everyone know she is the Boss!  No question about her place in the mix.

tiger pic

Then we have Clyde, our terrier mix doggie.  Clyde is, how shall I say this, an introvert, a follower.  He does not like his routine disrupted, or messed with.  It makes him very nervous.  His legs get shaky when he’s nervous or in an uncomfortable situation.  When we’re having a Party Day he’s a Nervous Nellie the entire time the crowd is in the house.  He likes lots of love and hugs, or belly scratching.  Clyde is a good guard dog though.  He takes good care of me when I am home by myself, and protects his domain.

clydee boy

Next is our new arrival.  We adopted our daughter’s cat, Storm.  He’s a raucous and rambling guy, and likes to stir up the routine of the other animal residents in the house.  He’s the teenager in the house.  He’s a big guy, and is like the annoying little brother for Tiger.  He’s also the most mellow cat I have ever known.  Nothing really phases him, unless he’s super hungry.  Storm and Clyde have some kind of bonding thing going on too.  Maybe it’s a guy thing?  They like to pal around the yard together, and go on little hunting expeditions together.


Photo credit: B.Juedes

The most entertaining part of the day is when the animals get fed their dinner.  If you have animals you know they like a routine.  They like things to happen on a schedule.  At our house, I don’t feed everyone until 5pm.  They start milling around me in the house at about 4pm, just to see if I will give into Tiger’s meowing demands.  Tiger is the spokesperson for the group.  The other two just follow in her footsteps where food is concerned.  I usually stick to my guns and don’t feed the animals a minute before 5pm, because you know they are not the boss of me.  Once they are all fed they go on their merry ways for the evening.  That usually involves little drinks of water, and lots of napping.  Oh the life of a domesticated animal.

The 5pm Standoff!!

The 5pm Standoff!!

Storm also loves to annoy Tiger when she least expects it. He will jump up on a chair while Tiger is laying on the floor, and peer down at her, very intently,  until she hisses and scowls at him.  Once Storm gets a rise out of Tiger, he jumps off of the chair and very nonchalantly walks right past Tiger.  She can’t stand this of course, and hisses at Storm until he leaves the room.

The other entertaining thing about the animals is I have them all trained to know what the phrase, “Go to Bed” means.  I close the animals off in one part of the house at night so they cannot roam all over.  And actually now that it’s warmer Clyde and Storm sleep outside at night.  Tiger stays in and gets mad at me when I tell her it’s time to “go to bed”.  She hisses and scowls at me, and gives me her dirty looks, but she is still not the boss of me.  Travel Man cracked up at this,  the first time he saw me sending Tiger to bed at night.  He could not believe she actually listened, and went out to her little corner in the game room.

Oh what a tangled web we weave.  First it’s keeping the kids from arguing, and terrorizing each other, and now it’s the animals.  We are glad to have Storm as an addition to our little family of pets.  He has brought some new life into the mix of things, and keeps us quite entertained.  Welcome to the family Storm!

This post has been linked to the Grand Social linky at Grandma’s Briefs.

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