Cleanup and organization

Until a few days ago, my kitchen was a clutter magnet. Since we’d moved, I hadn’t liked my kitchen because it didn’t look clean even when it was. I hated that the first thing you noticed coming in the front door was paper clutter, which covered a bookshelf near the door. There was no counter space because the stuff that didn’t fit in the cabinets perpetually lived on the counters. The counter top clutter plus the busy wallpaper behind the stove made the whole kitchen feel chaotic and claustrophobic, even though it’s pretty big. Because I hated being in the kitchen, I didn’t keep it as clean as I should have, which just made the problem worse.

A few days ago, I thoroughly cleaned and organized the kitchen. I moved some small kitchen appliances from inside cupboards and put them on top of the cabinets. That made space in the cupboards so that things like bread and snack foods could go inside the cupboards. I also cleaned off a bookcase near the front door that had succumbed to horizontal-surface syndrome. Now the only things on them are our microwave, our blender, our toaster, our knife block, and a basket of stuff with a towel over it so you don’t see the stuff. The bookshelf near the door now has a basket of flowers, a jar of pens, and two candy dishes on it, plus a neat stack of notepaper. No more clutter! I have space to work, and, more important, I like the way my kitchen looks now when it’s clean.

And I’ve found that I’m suddenly more motivated to keep it clean. I don’t mind doing dishes so much anymore, and I feel like cooking more than I did before. I take pride in the way my kitchen looks, which I’ve never been able to say before. Heck, you could come over and visit, and I wouldn’t try to keep you out. (Okay, I still wish I could get rid of the wallpaper and the paint on the cabinets, but progress is progress, right?)

This phenomenon isn’t really new. I’ve noticed before that when a room has the potential to be beautiful, I keep it cleaner. When I bought a beautiful new bedspread, I suddenly found myself clearing up clutter on my dresser and making the bed and tying back the curtains every day. When we got nice, matching living room furniture, I suddenly enjoyed picking up toys and books and papers much more. Our first apartment was ugly, and it was also often messy.

I guess this isn’t earthshattering or anything, but it does sound like the material for a dumb self-help “get your house to stay clean” book.

My next project is to make our new living room look good so I’ll actually keep it clean.

Night visitor

At 3:00 a.m. last night, our doorbell rang. I got up to go to the door, wondering who might ring our doorbell in the middle of the night. Pranksters? Someone in need of urgent help? What if there was a fire?

I opened the door and looked outside. No one was there. Pranksters, then, I thought. But then I saw movement off to the right—someone coming back toward the door, seeing I had it open. Suddenly I panicked and shut the door and locked it.

A second or two later, whoever it was tried to open the door. Since it was locked, he turned and turned and jiggled the doorknob for what seemed like a long time. Then he switched to knocking.

Heart pounding, I called for Jon Boy. He came to the door. We tried looking out the windows, but we couldn’t see anyone there. We don’t have a peephole, so we couldn’t tell if he was still on the doorstep. Jon Boy opened the door a crack again. Whoever it was had disappeared.

We tried to go back to sleep and forget the whole thing, but my mind was racing. Where had he gone? What if one of our neighbors had opened the door, and he had forced his way in? Who was he, and why was he in our yard? (Our duplex is located in the back yard of another house. To get to our front door, you have to go through one of two gates on either side of the yard. Even then, we’re not right inside the gate.) Why had he tried to just come in instead of knocking? If he meant us harm, why had he rung the doorbell first? Was he sleepwalking? High? Drunk? Crazy?

Eventually I decided to call the police. I had practically nothing to tell them. At that point I didn’t even know the would-be intruder was a man (I do now). But I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep until I knew our neighbors were safe and he was truly gone.

An officer came less than a half hour later. I explained what had happened, and he said he’d check the area. I didn’t hear from him again.

I stayed up and read until I thought I could sleep, then lay in bed for about half an hour more before Lego woke up to nurse. I finally fell asleep around 5:15, I think.

This morning, Lego and I went outside to water the flowers and vegetables and to play. There was a backpack leaning up against our duplex wall. I opened it and found an empty pill bottle, another pill bottle, a hat, some miscellaneous items, and a woman’s wallet. Inside the wallet were a lot of cards and an ID card for what I assume was our visitor. He had the most terrifying smile I believe I’ve ever seen outside of a movie. I felt relieved, once again, that I had closed the door on him in time.

Outside the gate from the alley, near where we park our cars, was his bike. I called the police again and let them know what I had found. They sent out an officer about half an hour later, and he took the backpack. He wouldn’t take the bike because I couldn’t say I was 100% sure it didn’t belong to the neighbors. Presumably he took the backpack to the address on the guy’s ID card.

The story I’ve made up to make myself feel better: The guy was out for a pleasure bike ride at 3:00 a.m. Or maybe biking home from work. He is mentally ill. Either he overdosed on his pills (thus the empty bottle) or he ran out earlier and didn’t take a pill he needed. He got lost and parked his bike in the alley. He went through the gate, thinking he was at home or maybe a friend’s house. He rang our doorbell. The end.

I did talk to our neighbors today, and they said they didn’t hear anything last night. So apparently he singled us out for whatever reason. Also, they said the bike isn’t theirs. I guess I need to call the police again. *sigh*

All in all, it wasn’t as exciting or terrifying as it could have been, but I’ve been feeling a bit freaked out all day.

Learning to talk

Lego now can say a whole bunch of words. I haven’t even counted them for a while because he keeps adding new ones. Not only that, but his earliest words sound almost exactly like they should now (what used to be “duh” for Dad now sounds like “Dad,” for instance). He says “cheese” and “star” and “grandpa” and “diaper.” Every time I hear him try a new word out, I get a thrill. I knew it would be amazing watching my child learn to talk, but I didn’t know it would be this exhilarating. Almost as exciting is watching him understand and respond to more and more of what we say to him.


This morning, Lego woke up about ten minutes before Jon Boy’s alarm went off. We were in the living room when Lego heard the music. He stood up, pointed at the closed bedroom door, and said, “Dad!” in the happiest squealing tone of voice. He did a little dance (which is what he does when he hears music) and ran for the door to be let in.


I have recently started babysitting a little boy a few days a week. I’ll call him Baby because that’s what Lego calls him. Baby just turned one, so he’s about four months younger than Lego. He’s also quite a bit heavier—Lego is about 5th percentile for weight, and Baby is 95th. They’re about the same height. It doesn’t seem to matter to Lego that Baby is bigger than him; Lego knows that since he can walk and talk and Baby can’t, he’s the Big Kid.

The problem is, Lego is just a little jealous of Baby. Baby comes over, plays with his toys, sits on my lap sometimes, eats in his high chair, and even gets to snuggle with me when he’s taking his bottle and getting ready for a nap. When Lego thinks Baby has crossed a line, Lego retaliates by pulling Baby’s hair, pushing Baby over, hitting Baby in the face, or sitting on Baby. I spend too much time telling Lego to be soft, to be nice, and to stop doing whatever he’s doing to torment Baby. Lego got a time out yesterday, and I’m pretty sure he knew what he’d done to earn it. I hope he learns soon that Baby is not actually a threat.

The other day, I needed to go to the post office to pick up the mail that had accumulated there while we were on vacation. I knew I would be watching Baby for the next few days, so unless I wanted to wait until Friday, I’d have to go with both boys. At the post office, I put Baby in the stroller and asked Lego to help me “push the baby.” He did just fine until we got to our spot in line, at which point he decided he didn’t want to stop pushing the baby. When I held the stroller in place, he got bored and ran off. Not wanting to leave Baby alone in line, I called Lego back a few times before he obeyed. While I picked up my mail, Lego alternated between running off and pestering Baby*.

I think I know now why they invented double strollers.

*For the record, Lego is usually well behaved. This post makes him seem like a hellion, though. Maybe I should post soon about how cute he was this morning.