house cleaning, laundry, and traveling with kids

When it comes to house cleaning, I have a problem with follow-through. I’ll do 65% – 95% of a task, leaving the remainder for later, whereupon a pile develops. This can be a pile of: unpaired socks when I’ve folded and put away the rest of the laundry; paperwork to be filed when I’ve gone through the mail; bottles and bottle parts when I’ve washed the rest of the dishes; music, when I’ve returned the rest of it to the shelves; etc ad infinitum. Then the pile, like dust bunnies or their flesh-and-blood counterparts, multiplies whenever I’m not looking, and becomes a larger challenge than it ever was when it was part of its original task-set. Ted and I, rather unfortunately, share this particular disability. Therefore, the basement is full of the detritus from other house-cleaning and organizational tasks, and there are piles of various sorts in different rooms of the house. We both dream of a day when the house is completely organized with everything put away. Sometimes that seems possible; many times it does not. Consequently, when we do achieve the completion of a task with no remaining flotsam or jetsam, we feel an exquisite satisfaction.

Today, I did about 500 loads of laundry, and, with the exception of Ted’s clothing (which he is going to fold tomorrow and put away, I swear it is true!), almost every item that went through the machines is folded and put away or will be by the time we go to bed tonight. I do still, I must admit, have socks that need to be paired. If I don’t get all the way through that pile, however, it’s getting jammed into my sock drawer, and I will still claim victory. There is no dirty laundry on the floor! I win!

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I talked with my sister tonight about our upcoming trip to the Midwest. We figure we haven’t been on a plane together for 30 years, since our return from England when we were teenagers. Now we’ll be taking our families. I am not sure whether to anticipate with dread or pleasure the cousins sitting together in an enclosed space for over four hours. I can imagine many possible scenarios, not all of them particularly peaceful. Thinking about the hours my parents spent with the three of us during our childhood travels to and from the UK, any hats I own are off to them. That can’t have been easy! The time we went to the UK when I was 14, we flew to Atlanta, and then New York, and then London. We had a 12-hour layover in New York. It was the holiday season, and we spent those hours sitting on our enormous pile of luggage, listening to the incessantly ringing bell of a nearby Salvation Army collector. Ugh. Ok, upon consideration, this trip should be pie. I’ll try to keep that in mind.

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