It's not dirty, it's just "lived in"

House cleaning is not the bane of my existence. It is my existence. Quite simply, it's what I do.  I have difficulty understanding how some moms have spotless houses and still maintain employment outside the home. I assume it's because there is no one in the house all day to mess it up.  But at this house, I am home, Hubbie works from home, the little man is certainly always at home, and the girls are here when not in lessons or school.  That's five-- with no daycare, no nanny, no maid. 

My house is constantly being cleaned, yet it is never clean. I will finish one room, walk into another, work in there, return to the first room and think, "Woah, didn't I just do this?"  I have an aunt who once said, "Why bother?"  
Well, I bother because it's my job-- The job I chose and the job I like to do. I just wish that when it was done, it would stay done.  For a day, at least. 

My girls have to clean their room every Saturday. Every single Saturday, unless there are plans, in which case they do it on Sunday.   This is, and has been, the rule... since ever, like always.

Every Saturday, they are surprised.  You want us to do what? Really???  But Moooooom, do we have to?  This leads to:

"It's her mess, not mine," and 
"I want my own room."     

Still, despite the procrastination, the arguments, the accusations, the frustration, and the surprise, they manage to get it done. They earn an allowance for the few chores they are assigned, and most weeks it goes into the bank. So, by Saturday afternoon the girl's room is clean.

By Sunday afternoon, the girl's room is messy.

At the party last week, one little friend; one whom I adore, not only because she is sweet, but because she is a bit outspoken like me and definitely not-afraid to put-it-out-there; this one little girl says, "I never wanted to say it at your house, because I didn't want to embarrass you, but their room is messy." 

Thank you, dear child, for not embarrassing me at my house-- saying it in front of twenty other people is certainly the kinder, gentler way to let me know that I have trouble keeping up with my kid's messes. 

But I am not embarrassed. The great thing about being a mom is that:

    There is always someone to blame 

Late? I'm so sorry, I couldn't get out on time because of the kids.
Forgot to do something? I apologize, there is so much going on with the kids.
Not return a phone call? Really, I meant to, but the kids had homework.
Dirty Dishes? It's the kids.
Floors need sweeping when someone stops in? Don't mind the mess... it's the kids you know... and the dogs. 

It's not me. I know that it's not me.

I gripe to Steve that while I love my job, and I live 100% of everyday to take care of my family, there is a fine line between taking care of them and being the servant. I don't mind cleaning-- I do mind picking up 10 pair of shoes out of eight rooms, none of which are in a closet where they belong.  I don't mind doing dishes, but I do mind picking them up out of the toy room (see my post here: my magic sink).  I don't mind cleaning up toys, but I want to clean them up from the toy room floor, not the living room couch. And, don't get me started on where they deposit laundry (on the floor, any floor). 

But Steve puts it in perspective. He reminds me that I leave coffee cups everywhere. It's true, I set them down nearby wherever I am in the house, move away from them, forget where they are; and pour another cup.  This is why I have about 30 mugs in my cupboard-- well, 2 mugs in the cupboard, 20 in the dishwasher and at least 6 around the house. 

But it is my only fault.  Other than this one idiosyncrasy, I am very organized.  If you ask me where something is, I can tell you in seconds flat. 

Which brings me to:

There is a place for everything and everything in it's place

I think this is what drives me up the wall the most. Not the messes, I can manage that okay. It's the not-putting-it-back-where-it-came-from phenomenon that pervades my daily life. 

When I want my black sharpie, I go to my pen cup. When I want the tweezers, I open the bathroom closet and look on the back of the shelf in their little holder. When I want the butter, I look in the drawer with all the dairy foods. That's where I left it, that's where it belongs, that is it's place. 

But these things are never there. 
Because some little someone used it/took it/ borrowed it/lost it and now because 

 There is always someone to blame

It is usually impossible to find the culprit... I need all my time to find the item.  And that brings me back to this: 

"It's her mess, not mine," and "I want my own room."

I want my own room too. Heck, I'd settle for one tiny space--  maybe just having my desk hands-off to all comers. I tried labeling things. I wrote, "Mom's" on my biggest, best, new scissors.

Tonight, Hubbie borrowed the scissors. He, unlike the children, did not abscond with them leaving me to wonder where or who took them. He's too smart, too funny, and he knows me too well.  No, he took the scissors, said, 

"I'm taking these scissors."
"Okay, but put them back." 
"I don't know, I think I'm going to cross out 'Mom's' and write 'Dad's'."

That was hours ago-- and the scissors are not back.  I know because I had to cut open a package and I had to do it with kids blunt craft scissors.  What package you ask?

A new thermometer.  I had to check Alex's temp and found the baby ear thermometer in the girl's room- not working.  Of course, its home is in the bathroom closet; but that's the whole point of this post.  

"Which of you took the thermometer?" 
"No, Sophia!"

Maybe sometimes there isn't anyone else to blame. Maybe sometimes it is what it is, a scrambled family with too much going on and too much stuff to keep track of.  Either way, I think I need to buy new scissors. 

I like things organized. I don't get to have that right now. Maybe when my kids are grown and out of the house, I will find a way to have it my way. Meanwhile, I struggle along the best I can. Maybe, if I'm lucky, I will be one of those moms who rewrites the family history.  When my kids say the house got messy, I'll just live in denial. "What? Our house messy? No. I always kept it clean."

It's the cleaning I'll remember, not the clean.  Irma Bombeck once said, "Cleaning your house while kids still live in it is like shoveling the walk while it's still snowing."

Well, it's snowing here everyday and try as I might, I can't find the darned shovel.  It's not where I left it, and I forgot to label it "Mom's".  

If this sounds like your house, then you can probably relate to this to: Too busy to eat?

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You have one too many children, Madame.

We are planning a trip to Disneyland. Disneyland, Paris. Yes, Paris, France.
I know; It's totally nuts but go with me on this one.

Planning has not been easy.   We had special tickets that had to be ordered through the travel agent with my husband's company, on multiple accounts-- two tickets for us, then three for the children. The travel agent was zero-help and it took Steve the better part of a week to untangle this one.  At this time, plane tickets are ordered and we assume we are on the same plane and in nearby seats; God willing it all goes as smooth as it looks on paper.

Passports. Oy Vey, what a mess!  Mine and the two girls were expired and Alex never had one.  Have you ever imagined getting an almost-three-year-old to hold a pose for a passport photo?  As if.  No, our little King covered his face with his hands and wailed for over and hour. How am I supposed to explain to the customs check-point that the baby with his hands over is face is in fact my kid?  Ultimately, we sat him in his stroller and the two girls held a white sheet behind him (it has to be a smooth white background) while I pretended to hit the photographer in the head with a ball.  Now this got his attention and made him laugh, but what does it say about him and his future as a diplomat? I'm not sure I want to go there... but that sticky little point aside, we managed to get some shots.

$15 per person for photos= $60.  Two hours of time.

We went to the post office and the gentleman in charge rejected three sets of Alex's photos before telling us that "maybe" this one set will be okay.

$80 for me
$110  x 3 for children
$25 to post master
$75 to department of who-knows-what
$5.40 in postage
More than $515 in fees and we don't even know if they're going to pass. If they don't we can add expedite fees too, so we're keeping our fingers crossed that the desk clerk  at the, uh,  international bureau of identity and passport control, clearance, and approval- the one in charge of photos- that guy, has kids and a sense of humor.  The mega-afro Alex was sporting that day is not going to add any points in his favor, I assure you.  I can hear it now. White, blond, afro? Who are these people?

Which leads me to:

Booking a Hotel Room in Paris For A Family of Five

There is not much new development in Paris. Hotels in Paris are old. According to what I have learned, most beautiful boutique hotels, the sort you want to stay in when in the City of Lights, are 10x10 cells with a bed and nothing else. Sounds romantic, yes?  But all these rooms for two in this romantic city ought to lead for a need for rooms for five, or four, or three at least, right? Well, you can find a limited number of rooms for four. Either overpriced or dumpy, take your pick... it doesn't matter to me because...

I have one too many children.

My understanding now is that most families with children must book two rooms. (Or three!)  Finding inter-connecting rooms is difficult, and you cannot guarantee it with online booking.  I spent Monday- Thursday looking for a hotel room for five. I spent Friday calling Paris asking where to find a hotel room for five.  Here is what they told me.

Me: Can I get a room for four and use a baby cot?
Msgr Frenchie: It is not possible. (insert beautiful accent here)
Me: Can the baby share my bed like he does at home?
Msgr Frenchie: No, he must have his own bed.
Me: But you don't have a room for five?
Msgr Frenchie: In Paris, we can give you a "family room" that is two rooms shared by one family.
Me: Okay, but they will be interconnecting?
Msgr Frenchie: I'm very sorry, but rooms in the area do not have interconnecting doors. We will put your children on the same floor as you, however.
Me: I don't think that will work for us. Can you recommend any hotel that can accommodate us?
Msgr Frenchie: The problem is, you have one too many children, Madame.

Okay! What was I thinking?
"No, Steve, we can't have another baby--
What if we ever decide to go to Paris!?"

I finally settled on a big international chain hotel. It won't be "French" but it will be in Paris, France.  Of the five hotels this chain has in Paris, one of them has a suite for six.  I booked it and tried not to faint at the price.

Next I have to book the Disneyland Hotel, which I know has rooms for as few as one or as many as ten. Ten!  Talk about extremes, right?   It's not like an international tourist destination should have any consistency. We'll get the park tickets as part of the hotel  package and that will be one more thing off the list.

I've already started packing for the plane.

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