Monday, September 10, 2012

The War on Time and Stuff

I've said this before and I will say it again:  Time is not my friend.  I look back at my life BK (Before Kids) and laugh my tired butt off as I thought I was so busy then.  (Gimme a break!)  I wish I could go back in time some days and smack some sense into the 'then' me... Come to think of it, I can think of a few more people in history I'd like to smack some sense into as well.  Upon further reflection it is probably for the best that I don't have access to this kind of technology, because you can be assured I would probably unravel all of space-time with my sense-smacking pursuits. Anyway, I digress...  It's probably the coffee; caffeine being the only thing keeping me going most days.  I get more done, but I have the attention span of a gnat.  I also have to be careful as some mornings are a crap shoot whether that second cup will provide me with the energy I need or simply bring on a cardiac event. 

Lately, most of my spare (ha!) time has been spent on reorganizing this crazy house.  Instead of saying things like "Ooh!  That IKEA shelving unit would solve a lot of problems around here" and then promptly losing the catalogue after the kids have shredded it, I've actually gone to IKEA and purchased the aforementioned shelves and the matching doors.   And a whole bunch of other stuff.  And their matching doors.  I've spent a ridiculous amount of money, but I've managed to reclaim my living room (hooray!) and we are working on the other areas of the house.  It's a fair trade. 

The clothes are a major portion of this mess that I live in.  I also make no secret of the fact that laundry is the bane of my existence.  My father-in-law, bless his heart, was completely flabbergasted by the laundry when he was down to help out after the babies were born.  Rightfully so too, as my laundry practices are bizarre by most standards, yet completely necessary by mine.  The babies clothes are washed together, using baby detergent and stain remover and no fabric softener.  Makes sense.  Everyone else, however, has their stuff washed separately as well.  My clothes, which may or may not be contaminated by hospital germs are washed using whatever detergent is handy and my fabric softener (one of my few luxuries).  Quinn's clothes get random detergent, stain remover and whatever cheap fabric softener is going.  Finally, Sean's are washed using one of two detergents that don't make him want claw his own flesh off and no fabric softener (for the same reason).   See, I can hear you cringing from here and I haven't even gotten to the towels and the linen yet.  It's complicated.  There are many sorting bins and the sheer volume will stagger you.  What it does create is a house where there is no digging through a basket of clean laundry trying to find the mate to one of your socks and only coming up with his underwear, some towels and a bunch of the kids clothes, because, let's face it, no one needs that at 4:30 in the morning.  This is my laundry basket, this is yours.  There is complete laundry separation in this house, yet it still manages to be EVERYWHERE.  For what it is worth, I do at least two loads a day to try and stay caught up.
When I'm not sorting, washing and folding laundry, I'm sorting through the kids clothes.  In the last three weeks, we have hit a landmark;  all three kids have suddenly grown out of the sizes that they were wearing.  I'm not sure if it is what I'm feeding them or if it's the fresh air that they got this summer, but WHAM!, they seemed to grow out of everything overnight.  This has meant a changeover of all the kids clothes and doubled their laundry as I try and get all the clothes clean to sort out.  I have been blessed with wonderful friends who rallied for the cause and made sure that I had enough clothes for the twins.  I have a motley collection of different sized bags and bins squirreled away under the stairs that are full of clothes;  they are sorted by sex and size, all of which is written neatly on the outside.    I've always got the twins' next size laid out and ready to go in their closet organizer, which means once I clear out the outgrown things and move the current size over, I get the size after that ready as well. I'm sure that sounds crazy too, but there is nothing like being caught short in the middle of the night, cleaning up god-only-knows-what and finding out that there are no clean jammies left.  Or, running late for an appointment, frantically dressing the little people to get them out the door, only to find out that there are no more pants (or gender neutral ones that we can borrow from the other).  Both have happened.  Both were not fun.  Quinn's clothes will be kept for Wyatt, but the outgrown babies' clothes are being sorted out again for disbursement. There is a boy bag, a girl bag and a neutral bag that are earmarked for babies that are on the way.  When I say 'bag', of course, I mean bags, but that is beside the point.  There is also a pile for donation;  there is a family shelter not too far from me that we refer to at the hospital and they are always on the lookout for maternity and baby clothes.  For the first time since they were in 0-3 months, Wyatt and Zoe are the same size again... which makes it easy as I always have a stash of plain onesies in the living room for accidents (read:  creation of more laundry).  Did I mention that I'm sick of looking at clothes?  I'm sick of looking at clothes. 

Don't get me wrong, I am extremely thankful for being in a position to afford clothes for my kids and to have friends that helped me out.  I just think that, for someone that a) does not work in fashion/retail and b) cares so little about dressing herself, I spend a lot of time thinking about or dealing with clothing.  It comes up in other areas too.  This summer, we sent Quinn to a local day camp for three weeks (only two were consecutive).  He loved it, but every day was pretty much like spinning the Wheel of Random Misplacement.

The very first day, he lost his swim trunks and UV shirt.  We replaced them that night, but pointed out to him that this was the last time we were going to do this sort of thing.  He managed to get through the rest of that week with only losing the freezie lid off one of his sandwich containers.  The next week we managed to scrape by with only replacing his running shoes (due to wear and tear, thankfully).  The last week, however, was a Wheel of Random Misplacement Spin-Free-for-all! (Probably to make up for lost time.)  The first day, nothing happened.  On the second day, he lost his swimsuit again and his towel for good measure.  We made him wear an old swimsuit the next day and Sean went to the camp and rooted through the wet, stinky, mouldy lost and found.  He located Quinn's trunks and towel... but no shirt (and no sign of the first set that he had lost either).  All was almost well, except for that day's spin when *whizzzzz!*... Quinn came home without his lunch bag. 

Now, by this point, we had the camp phone number on speed dial and managed to get one of the teenagers that work there to put it in his leader's locker for the next day.  Since it was now Thursday, we thought, 'ok, we might just make it out' until *whizzzzz!* We actually hit the jackpot!  Sure, he came home with his lost lunchbag, the lunchbag he was sent in the meantime and his swim trunks and towel.  However, his jeans were actually on inside out and backwards, he had lost his hat and was wearing a totally different shirt than the one we had sent him in.  To be fair, it was the same shade of red as the one he had worn in the a.m.  However, he had worn a plain Cherokee shirt and came home in an Osh Kosh Tee emblazoned with a maple leaf and CANADA in giant block letters across the front.  I have to give the kid 10 out of 10 for style, patriotism and brand/quality upgrading, but minus a bunch for common sense and actually going down a size, yeah? We dug out an old hat for the boy and the gods smiled on us the last day as he only came home with a sunburn, having forgotten to apply sunscreen after the pool.  The Osh Kosh shirt is really nice, actually.  It washed up really well and I put it away in a bin under the stairs for Wyatt.

Keeping my house clean is almost impossible with three kids and two adults rampaging around (and a Mommy who is absent a lot of the time).  However, we do our best and these little organizational projects are in fact all consuming for a bit, but in the end, totally worth it. Even if they only save a minute here and there, they surely add to piece of mind, which is in short supply also. We have other projects coming up in the future which should help out even more, but until then, we will continue on with our War on Time and Stuff.  It's frustrating with two babies sometimes, that is no joke.  There are only certain times that we can shop.  There are only a few brief windows throughout the day that one of us can nip off and complete a small task.  We are still changing about 10 diapers a day, give or take a few between them.  We are still preparing some chunkier-texture baby food, but for the most part the babies totally feed themselves finger foods (which is less or more time consuming, depending on the day).  Keeping abreast of their dietary needs is another blog post all together;  suffice to say that it is interesting when one has 12+ teeth and the other has four and is still trying to master chewing.  Yargh.  My brain hurts just thinking of it.

Someone at work yesterday morning asked me "how do you stay sane?" after I regaled him with my early morning pre-work adventures, including a stopped up sink, two loads of laundry and a Lovecraftian bug (centipede) in my coffee cup.  I quipped back "I'm not so sure I was in the first place", but really, I have my little hobbies and my few stolen minutes here and there (like the ones it took me to write this).  The stress does build up still and when it does, I have to do some mental housecleaning and organizing as well... which I try to do regularly. (I said "try".)  On the other hand, I am reminded of a sign that I saw in a nursing station some time ago that said:  "You don't have to be crazy to work here, but it helps!".  That is closer to the truth, really. It helps to be slightly off kilter while I have three kids careening off every surface and each other.  If I was totally balanced, I don't think I would be as adept at things.  You sorta need a slightly off centre, drunken style half-spin to manouever through our chaotic life. It will never be completely organized, hell, we may never all be clean again at once.  However, it's our life and we love it.  Time doesn't love us, but we are going to show that broad up by living well.  It is the best revenge, after all.

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