My friend Judy once told me that she put up a sign in her house when her two boys were little. The sign read: "If you are coming to see me, just drop by anytime. If you are coming to see my house, please make an appointment." Well, that's turning into my philosophy lately. With four little boys, 2 teenagers, 4 dogs, 3 cats, and a constant flow of friends and "my other kids", there is never a dull moment, and never a moment when I can say "my house is clean." I am abundantly thankful to God for our home, and for the love and even the chaos in every moment. God has given me a beautiful family and He continues to bless us with new kids to love and have fun with. And yet, I have a very real and abiding struggle with the cleanliness of my house. I want to be that Proverbs 31 woman who is always running her household with perfect charm and hospitality, and her family is always squeaky-clean and smelling good. But... that ain't gonna happen, my friends. It's official ... the makers of Febreeze have met their match. Our boys provide us with a daily dose of smells that could easily run the Taliban out of their hiding places. They seem to create messes so quickly and in such inconspicuous places that I am considering it might be some form of witchcraft. Maybe I should enlist a Catholic priest to come over and perform an exorcism on the demons of dirt and do-do? Just the other day, I was cleaning the "boys" bathroom and discovered a black banana peel under the sink in the cabinet. One of my little darlings had smeared do-do along the side of the vanity, and someone's toothbrush was in the trashcan. It's a proverbial war zone in that bathroom, which is probably what lead me to unleash a form of chemical warfare on the tile not too long after I finished scrubbing fecal fingerprints off the wood surface nearest to the toilet. Was that art? Finger-painting? Either way, I came out of the bathroom and went right for the laundry room. I got a gallon on bleach and went back into the war zone, unscrewed the cap and let it pour freely over the tile, toilet, and surrounding surfaces. I may have even cackled while I poured the bleach. The nauseous mixture of urine (ammonia) combined with the bleach and nearly killed me. John smelled the fumes right away and came across the house to check on me. "What are you doing?" He asked, "Trying to kill us all with mustard gas?" I was coughing, gagging, burying my face in my t-shirt, but I was NOT giving up this battle. I pressed on. I scrubbed, scrubbed, scrubbed through the toxic fumes. "Honey! For Pete's sake, get out of there before you kill yourself!" I kept going, delirium working its way into my mind, beginning to chuckle wildly like a lunatic. "I don't care!" I giggled madly, "I don't care if I pass out! I've got to clean this bathroom! It's so disgusting!" John shook his head and went to the other side of the house, away from the fumes. I continued with my insanity like some crazy third grader sniffing white-out. Eventually I seemed to become immune to the toxic gas. Maybe my sinuses have already been damaged extensively by the boys . . . I'm not sure. But either way, I did not vacate the bathroom until the deed was done. Forty-five minutes in the flames of Hell and I stepped out victorious! Of course, I stepped into the hallway, the place where dog hair dwells. The dog hair battle is a daily one, and reminds me that I was wrong back when I thought hardwood floors were so great. I always thought hardwood (or in our case, laminate hardwood) was the way to go since carpet can get so disgusting and stained. But here is the problem with NOT having carpet: you can't hide the dirt. The dirt (And hair) is EVERYWHERE, Every day, all the time. It NEVER takes the day off. There is NEVER a day when I don't have to choose sweeping or walking on dog hair. Keep in mind we have a 170 pound great Dane (in the house) and also an indoor Rottie who is 80 pounds. Both of these dogs have jet black hair and while we love them, I have honestly thought about shaving them bald.
So, in conclusion, if you should ever decide to drop in and visit, please do not be offended by the little piles of dog hair in every corner, or the funky smells in the boys bathroom. If we had known you were coming, we would have rolled out the red carpet, shaved the dogs, and filled the house with mustard gas.