What remains is our bedroom and the front room (living and dining room). We've got both blocked on the calendar! They will be big ones! I find myself walking around wondering what things will or won't "make the cut" and Alida keeps noting how much dust there is to be gotten rid of in the rooms yet to be done. I told multiple people after we finished the back kitchen that I felt like the easy grabs were done. It felt like the rest of the spaces were ones we use heavily and I didn't imagine there would be much to get rid of. How wrong I was! What is pictured here was ONE of the growing stacks of things to get rid of as we went through what was to be returned to our kitchen.
Knowing the kitchen was going to be an intense multi-day process, we made two good decisions: 1. Dive in when our most enthusiastic co-conspirator was here - my mom! and 2. Spread it out over a number of days - 5 to be exact!
We dipped our toes in on Tuesday by doing the cleaning closet. That eased us into the project, not to mention then organizing our cleaning supplies for the following days! Included here is a before/after picture, but it doesn't really get all the significant changes like: no longer are there overflowing bags of rags such that we have to root around through ones that are not absorbent to find a "good rag"; hooks and nails have been adjusted for ease of accessing cleaning tools; gone are cleaning supplies that were in our home when we moved in over a dozen years ago; and out went dusters that were so dusty they couldn't possibly be useful for dusting! Jason and I also pre-ripped brown paper for fire starters so we no longer have to fear waking kiddos when ripping paper to start a fire in the early mornings. It's that kind of thing that is so small but so hard to take time to do ahead of time but makes such a difference in our day to day!
We also pared down our collection of cloth bags. I like cloth bags and we all use them almost on a daily basis, but when you have so many they are falling off the hooks it feels a bit excessive. So I can now find the bags we most like more easily! That's the thing about this process. We are getting rid of things that are useful and that we have even used somewhat recently. But clearing out all these things that we kind of like but aren't our favorites, makes our favorites much easier to locate quickly. I really had more fun cleaning the kitchen after cleaning our cleaning closet, as silly as that sounds! Ok, that's probably enough on day #1! We then had an "off" day as I worked in the office on Wednesday.
Day #2 (Thursday) we decided to tackle the pantry and paint cupboard. Thankfully it's the time of year when we have less in there than at the end of the harvest season. But it was not lacking in stuff. We didn't get rid of nearly as much from the pantry - as most of it is things we'll consume (almost everything in there is edible), but we did a pretty major reorganization and I feel like we dealt with some minor inconveniences, as well as at least one possible safety issue - the fire extinguisher has been on the wall of the pantry and the reality is that if there was a fire at the stove it is possible we would not find it safe to reach it where it was. So it is now installed in the cleaning closet! I had some helpers for part of the day - ones that were especially eager to taste test some of the chocolate chips found in the pantry. Terah has also fallen in love with Kali's walnut triangle lunch box that Daddy made for her. It really is not a great lunch box in that its carrying capacity is rather abysmal. BUT it has made a very fun new toy for Terah - she has carted it all over the place the last few days.
It's kind of hard to tell a lot from the before/after, but it feels different to me!
Day #3 (Friday) was the drawers/cupboards day! I was able to help unload a lot of it before taking off for nearly half the day to gather with women friends, one of whom is going to welcome a new baby soon! It was kind of hard to leave the buzz of activity on the home front, but was also the kind of gathering I get to enjoy so rarely so I tried hard to savor it. Those back at home worked steadily at finishing up the unloading and Mom was once again such a wonderful help getting cupboards and drawers wiped out. Each day, as I have done on other deep cleans, I "take off" during Terah's nap to put on my office job hat for 2-3 hours. So our evening job that day was to sort through everything (most of this was spread out on our living room floor) and put back what we wanted and set aside what we did not. That process was at times tedious, at times freeing, at times dangerous or messy (when Terah found the sharp bread knife or wanted to open various food items). But we got it almost done and had once again surprised ourselves with how much space we had created by weeding out the non-essentials! It is not hard to get in touch with how much I love open spaces!! We didn't get to refilling one major cupboard and one drawer by the time we needed to call it quits for the day for the sake of everyone's sanity!
Day #4 (Saturday) was the "BIG" day or at least the most disgusting day! This was the day to tackle the main room cleaning - from ceiling to floor - getting to spots that haven't been touched since we moved into the room. I will let the pictures speak for themselves but will note a few things. I did not get pictures of a few buckets of black water from the stove work Jason did. And thankfully there is no video of me falling when I tried to climb up on the counter using the oven door handle to bear my weight. Sometimes my lack of common sense disturbs me - I should have known that putting my weight on the handle would make the oven open. As I fell, I felt rather disgusted with myself AND glad I was the only one in the kitchen at the time. My shin and knee continue to remind me of my lapse in good judgment!
Mom was at our back kitchen sink for probably a few hours just washing, washing and washing things. I did the main dusting and sweeping (I think I swept the floor at least 3x that day alone) and then Jason was ready to join us and took on some of the more tedious jobs - the ceiling fan, the high walls, the vent fan, etc...It was about an hour or so before dinner time when Jason asked if we were going to take out all the drawers and clean under/behind/around them. I hadn't even thought of the possibility - but once the possibility was raised it was hard to feel like it wouldn't be "cheating" to skip it. We pulled one out to check how bad it was and soon they were all out and we worked on it together as fast as we could - determined to try to wrap up the cleaning by dinner! I finished scrubbing the floor as darkness fell and we got the "supper's ready" call. That's right - once again Mom treated us to a wonderful feast for our weary bodies and hungry bellies! Some notable parts of the meal that were extra special included fish one neighbor had given us, breadsticks made from my grandma's recipe, bread dipper I had found in the cupboard from Jason's sister, fried potatoes from our garden and later after more work was done apple crisp made with apples from another neighbor and homemade cheddar cheese. It all tasted so good!
We had one file drawer that we did a speed sort through this evening and my recipe bin that needed sorting got a quick once over. Both of those space still needs a little more organization but that will wait for another time - kind of like our main filing cabinet. At this point, I'm ready to call the kitchen done and go cuddle up with Alida and read her to sleep.
I will end by saying that this week I've found myself talking about how much this deep clean resonates with something that I'm thinking a lot about in my own personal life. The process of taking stock: taking things out, looking at them, sorting them, deciding what to keep and what to get rid of, cleaning your space and then "moving back in" feels like something that is good to do in our homes and also in our lives! I feel like I've kind of been embarking on both - with one feeling a lot more successful that the other to date!
What I have told a few close to me recently is that I feel like I'm getting to chip away at the "pulling the stuff out" part of the process but then feel a bit stuck on when, how, and where to go with stuff and how to carve out the time needed to do the deep personal work that will feel so beneficial once done, but is not as quick as cleaning a room, and can't be done nearly as easily with kiddos in the wings. I need to keep playing around with the analogy, but just like I've felt the need to patient in getting around to this kind of deep cleaning of our home, I'm hoping I can be patient with myself as I navigate through this particularly full and chaotic stage of family life!