Thursday, January 22, 2009

And now, The Rest of the Story

A while back I was blogging about our "around Christmas" goings on, and the computer went down right before I got to The Sanitation Project. You can check out the "Christmas" archives if you need to catch up.

Now that it's Jan. 22nd, and all of "this" happened before Jan. 1st, I will have to dust off the cobwebs in that section in my brain to remember all that went on. For the most part, it's not something that I want to pull out and re-hash every day!

My parents have a very big house. Like, a And the bigger the space, the bigger the job to clean it up. Did I say Very.Big.House. yet??

Knowing that the whole 23 person crowd was going to be descending on the house for our "Christmas" on New Years Day, and knowing that everyone would have a better, more enjoyable time if the place was cleaned, I headed up a cleaning crew to clean the place over the period of the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before Thursday, New Year's Day.

I knew what places were going to be most used, what floors most likely to be crawled on, what bedrooms were going to need some serious attention (I know, I was a kid once!), and what bathrooms were probably in need of a few gallons of Clorox and a pressure-washer.

And it all needed cleaned in 3 days. (Did anyone mention that it's a BIG house yet?) And that it would only get accomplished if LOTS of work went into it from LOTS of people, and it would happen the smoothliest (huh??) if there was some organization. Not to mention the fact that merely thinking about cleaning the house could cause mental hernias, heart attacks, migraines and catheterizations. Wait, not that last one. Basically it was a super, duper, overwhelming task.

I spent hours and hours making a list for each of the three days, and exactly what needed to be accomplished on those days. Then Sally suggested the great idea of prioritizing the tasks for each day, so I spent more time on that. First, I had scribbled it all down on paper. Then I would prop it up in front of the sink or somewhere on my countertop and study it while I washed dishes, made bread, or whatever. And I would scribble in changes, or add things. Sometimes in the middle of nowhere I would realize that I'd left out a pretty important step... like dusting, or taking out the trash... or, horrors, I'd forgotten to put in REPLACE TRASH BAGS until close to the end of my list perfecting! Knowing the blood that runs in my genes - and therefore in the genes of those that I would be cleaning with! -, it would not be uncommon for the trashcans to get emptied but the trashbags not replaced.

So let's see... it was Christmas Eve service at church.
Christmas Day here and with some friends.
Day after Christmas spent finishing wrapping gifts, cleaning my OWN house, doing laundry and spending the evening with Daniel's family and siblings.
Saturday was "Christmas" with Daniel's family.
Sunday was church in the am (2 services), lunch w/ Daniel's family, and then back here to pack up the car with my Oreck XL, sweeper bags, gifts, food, ingredients, more food, more gifts, more cleaning supplies, my suitcase, and my kitchen sink.
Sunday evening we went back over to Daniel's parents house and had a supper of leftovers with them and Joel & Rachel and then watched Facing the Giants. Whew, I sure felt like a giant was staring me in the face for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday!

Monday morning bright and early I threw the last few things in the car and headed up the road. Or down the road, or over the road, or whatever way you want to say it. I arrived just as Sally and her two munchkins, Paul & Hannah, and Rachel (ETA: I have a sister, Rachel, and Daniel's brother, Joel married a Rachel, so there are two Rachel's) were getting there. Ahh, it was good to have some co-horts to co-hort with!! In the morning we attacked almost every inch of the library. Finally it was clean and done!

After lunch was the basement. An overwhelming task for THREE of us!! Inches of dirt from the dirt-bikes/motorcycles, wood dust from when they had a wood stove going down there, mountains of 100 year old Hoards Dairyman magazines and the Lancaster Farming newspaper filling one corner, boxes of "stuff" that was to be gone through at "some point" covered the floor.... Uggh, it was overwhelming. To.say.the.least. But we got it done!!

Here is me (right) and Mom (left)...
this is probably 1 hour into the project.

Here is Rachel dumping one of many buckets of
dirt/junk/trash into an empty dogfood bag
to be hauled to the dump on
one of the 2 or 3 trips that were taken.

And here is my most handsomest big brother,
Luke (who will be 15 in Feb).
This is coming down the home-stretch.
You can see the floor!
I will pause here for a moment of silence in honor of Rachel. I think she got her stair-master workouts in for the next month, hauling box after box from the basement to the attic. That requires going up THREE flights of stairs. And back down again, of course.

Sally was working on the "mud room" (named very appropriately!), trying to make some organization out of the heaps of Tingly boots, Live-In's, Roller Skates, Coats, Gloves, Boots, helmets, ropes, mud, medicine, cow-doctoring supplies, you-name-it. Kudos, Sal, for your bravery.

I swept up bucketful after bucketful of dirt. All.kinds.of.dirt. Clay, cow poop, fire-wood dirt, sawdust dirt, plain old DUST, chunks and bits and pieces of who knows what. After the majority of the floor was clean of boxes, etc, I think all three of us (Sally, Rachel & myself) were brooming, and the air was like a cloud. We finally opened the door and set up a fan blowing OUT to help suck the dirty air out.

Yee-haw, I also helped Mom come to the decision to haul all of those magazines/newspapers to the dump and recycle them. They were being kept for reasons that just weren't ligit enough to merit them being there anymore.

After the basement was finished and supper was eaten, Sally took her kiddos and went home, and Lucy arrived. Ahh, fresh blood. Err, ENERGY!! We also hog-tied Luke to come help us clean off the porches (the front porch and side porch). They, too, were piled. A major booby-trap for anyone that might not know exactly how to navigate their steps while approaching the door. A few truck loads of stuff that belonged elsewhere were hauled off to the "elsewhere" by Luke and someone, and by about 9pm we were finished and the porch was swept off :)

My intent had been to spend the night at Mom's each night so I was there "full time" and would be there right away in the mornings to get started. But my brain was shot. My mental state was headed downhill. So I decided that I needed to heed Lucy's very solemn and wise counsel, to break away from it all and "renew my aura" at Rachel & Ted's house. It was SO great to just walk away. I knew that if I stayed I'd just keep working until mid-night or so, and that wasn't a good idea.

The second day went much like the first, only working on other parts of the house. I got to Mom's house, ate breakfast, started to get overwhelmed at the thought of starting "it" by myself and Gail and Sally showed up. The three of us (Gail, Sally & myself) dusted and vacuumed alot of the downstairs in the morning, and then moved on to scrubbing bathrooms and the kitchen in the afternoon. Gail & Sally spent almost the whole afternoon cleaning the bathrooms (7 of them, total). I scrubbed away in the kitchen. Laura was spending her nights there, so she was already there, but she took on the task of helping the kids clean their rooms, so she was upstairs with them most of the time. Lucy was there for the afternoon and evening, and did a great job of purging the refrigerators.

THIS is the way to clean a frige:
haul in a big dumpster sized trashcan
and start throwin'!

Seriously, we hauled out a few big trashbags of stuff to "The Tomb of the Unknown Food". I think next NYD we should have a wreath laying ceremony. The big garbage can was not a joke or a prop just for the picture. It was a necessary part of life at that moment. Well, alot of moments to be truthful.

Here I am, in all my pooped-out, tuckered-out, brain-frazzled glory. Almost finished cleaning this dumb, 100 year old, lava-caked George Foreman that I'd been hosing down with Greased Lightening and 409 Cleaner for about an hour (or so it felt). Sally comes and takes my picture... THEN tells me that Mom had decided to THROW IT OUT since Dad had gotten a new one for Christmas. ****sigh**** Oh well, at least it went to the dump CLEAN!! (and ok, so maybe it wasn't really a "dumb" machine, but I kinda felt like it was at the moment)

And here are Luke and Katie (Katie is the youngest girl sibling at 16,
and Luke is the oldest boy sibling), washing and drying the frige
parts while Lucy was cleaning out the food-stuffs.

We had such a great time together!! Too bad we can't all get together sometime OTHER than events like these and hang out :(

Wednesday morning I trucked up to the farm again (only with Daniel this time since he'd taken NYEve off and come up Tuesday evening), but today was the LAST day before the function. That meant that things not on the "Absolutely Must Get Done" part of the list started taking 2nd fiddle to the "Must Get Done" parts. Wednesday it was just Me'n'Laura, and any of the "kids" (Katie, Luke or Glen) that we got to help in between their working on homework. (ETA: Gail had bear meat to grind up, Sally's Paul & Hannah needed a day at home, Rachel was working, Julia was sick, and Lucy was working.) It was also "floor" day. I re-vacuumed parts of the Living/Dining Room floors, and pulled out Rachel's great mop that she'd loaned for the event and went at it. Side note here, the Living/Dining Room is one big room - I think it's something like 50'x45'. I know it's something x 45' b/c their house is 45' "deep". I know the floor has had some wet-swiffering done to it over time, but it was time for a real, hot-water-and-suds bath. Glen (our youngest sibling) and Katie did excellent jobs of helping me move furniture around, piling it all on one side of the room as I mopped my way across the floor. It took 2 rounds of washing to get it to look clean and not like muddy streaks. My shoulder and bicep muscles got a major workout, they were pretty sore till I got done. Laura was helping Katie with her Algebra homework for a while, and then Daniel took over and Laura came downstairs and washed the kitchen floor - by hand, no less! I also need to give props to Glen for crossing off alot of the little, detailed stuff on the list - like supplying the bathrooms with toilet paper, putting out clean hand towels, making sure hand soap was in good supply, etc.

After we deemed the "cleaning stage" finished, we crashed and burned. Not quite. There was still food prep. to do. I'd gladly (and happily) headed up the menu, food acquiring, and organizing all of the assembly methods. During the day Wed., while we were mopping and tutoring, Laura cooked up about 6 gallons of tea, and I baked a batch of party mix. Then, after supper we got down to the real deal. We chopped up vegetables for a veg. tray, fruit for a fruit salad, put butter on butter plates, jelly in jelly bowls, set up the tables and chairs for eating at, did everything we could possibly do but eat the food. Almost. We got out the ham and turkey and put them in their roasting pans all ready to bake. We got the vegetables out of the freezer to thaw so they'd be ready to cook in the crockpots the next morning. Dumped the box potatoes into a big dishpan so they would be ready to go, and same with the Stove-Top.

Then we (both Laura and I) went to Rachel's house to renew our "auras". We were about frazzled. It was fun, but just alot of brain work. Where was everyone else? Julia and Linden were hosting the Annual NYEve Monopoly Madness Fest that evening, and so Daniel took the 3 kids to that. Laura and I were too brain fried to be sociable so we went and vegged with Rachel at her house (who was getting some last minute stuff done for NYD).

Here is Laura with our "neph-dog", Atlas,
at Rachel's house.

The next morning Rachel and I hiked back up to the farm for The Event!! (Daniel was coming later, both he and Ted were at the Monopoly Madness pretty late.) Laura had taken the kids home in the wee hours of the morning when the Monopoly Madness was over, and put the meat in the ovens. Different ones of us worked in the kitchen picking the bird and ham, making the gravy, and cooking up the Stove Top. Then after everyone arrived we had a Song Fest for about 1/2 hour before we ate. Rachel helped me mix up the 'taters and put out the food for the buffet line. We'd had the vegetables cooking all morning in the crockpots already on the food table so we had minimal work to do! The meal was a hit! The clean house was a hit! The presents were a hit! The nephews and niece were a hit!
Here is Auntie Jul's (Julia),
playing with Hannah and Bobby.
(Notice the clean, shiny floor??)

It was a great day. Oh, and since it's after Jan. 2nd... I can tell you what the "big secret" was that Daniel was keeping from me. He and everyone else went together and gave me a KitchenAid Professional 600 Series Mixer!!

I love it! I've used it several times now, and it is wonderful! No more obnoxious hand mixer!!

Daniel and I came back home NYD evening, and I crashed and burned for the next week. Or two. Or three. Wait, this is week three and I'm not crashing and burning. I did keep all my papers and lists and food prep. strategies for possible use next year. We'll have to see. I loved organizing it all and was tickled pink with how smooth everything went.

By the way, if you got the impression from the pictures that we live in Florida or something, we don't. They just keep the house about 75° all the time and we were workin'! That's like hot enough to make doughnut dough rise!!

And if you want to see another perspective on all this, you can check out Sally's take on it here, here and here. And if you think her pictures look familiar... well, that's because I didn't take time to take very many pictures, so I borrowed hers!!


Sally said... [Reply to comment]

Loved this post! Wow, you have a great way with words! (I think I have lost mine.) "The Tomb of the Unknown Food" is hilarious! I think I may have to recommend this post to Andrew to read.

Thanks, thanks, thanks a gazillion for all your hard work, both for the events, and for planning it all. May I try to redeem myself for leaving you stranded on Wed.? To all the blog readers, my little munchkins just could not handle one more day away from home in that fast-paced atmosphere. Next year, Lord willing, I will have better babysitting arrangements (this year's babysitter's father passed away right before the Sanitation Days).

Many thanks! (And many thanks to Daniel for supporting you through all this!)

Carol said... [Reply to comment]

That was a really sweet thing to do for your parents.

BTW, I love the KitchenAid. I have a black one and I just love it.

Meghan said... [Reply to comment]

Oh gosh, Hoards Dairymens...I feel your pain. Hey I needed those! No, no you don't. It's like I'm cutting Kurt's arm off if I take them away.

I think that's awesome you cleaned your parents house. That was a lot of work!

I'm so jealous of your KitchenAid. I need one for making Kurt's cookies. Have fun with it!

Lucy said... [Reply to comment]

very nice!! Yeah, I think you got story telling help from Uncle Richard somewhere along the way. You do tell them pretty well. :) By the way, what does ETA mean, besides "estimated time of arrival"? I got lost there.

Miriam said... [Reply to comment]

Lucy - ETA means "Edited to Add". Often times after I put up a post (and having re-read it, spell checked it and everything else), I find spelling mistakes, poor english, or that I've left out an "important" piece of info.