Sunday, April 1, 2018

Room #7 (and #8) The Front Room - WE DID IT!

And this is NO April Fool's Day joke but it does feel like a mini-resurrection to me! The deep clean of the downstairs of our home is officially done! And while I am probably very tired and that will hit me at some point, so far today I'm experiencing mostly a high dose of euphoria! It feels really, really good! Today has just all around been a spectacular day on the home front. Maybe it's the flowers bursting forth in color all around us. Maybe it is eating our first spinach salad with violet flowers at lunch. Maybe it was getting up really early to get Alida off to the sunrise service at church, which meant Jason and I were up early to fit in coffee and some Wendell Berry poems in before diving into the list for the day. Maybe it was Terah being in a grand mood and my little helper all morning. Maybe it was being able to sweep all the floors of the house, make two kinds of cheeses and finish the deep clean with ease and fun all before lunch. Maybe it was the kids cracking us up trying to fool us with jokes back to back to back (unsuccessfully). Maybe it is that we are getting seeds and plants in the ground and things are growing, growing, growing. Or maybe it is some combination of all of those things! Whatever the combo, I'm enjoying this Easter day and the way we are kicking off the month of April. It's off to a good start!

Back up to four days ago and I woke with both excitement and dread, eagerness and anxiety, readiness and no idea how to get started! Thursday was Day #1 of the front room deep clean. I had laid awake multiple times in the weeks preceding trying to concoct the best plan for how to tackle that room, which is really two rooms in one. It had me stumped and even as we dove in, I kind of felt like novice swimmer who had just jumped into the deep end of a pool. I was kind of floundering and was very grateful to both Mom and Jason who threw me various floating devices or pointed me in the right direction or pulled me along to safety at various points. And also to Kali for her consistent help throughout the process. The previous 6 rooms gave me the confidence to trust the process - to live through the chaos and disorientation and know that at the other side was something that would be well worth it. It did not disappoint!

That said, on Thursday afternoon, I could not help but laugh out loud when Alida chose some music to keep us upbeat and moving and the first song started with these lyrics, "I thought that we'd be further along by now." Day 1 was filled with: taking out all the little stuff from the room, cleaning out a few cupboards in place, doing the ceiling fans and high dusting, beating out the living room rug, and then the deep clean of the living room by moving the big furniture from living room to dining room.
She doesn't want to miss anything right now. And everything is accompanied with "why?' For some reason this time around, it's striking me as very endearing and kind of incredible to watch a child be so intent on learning and understanding her surroundings!
See why I felt a little daunted - this is only ONE of the deposits of stuff!

This was a disgustingly dirty job shared by me, Jason and Kali. We discovered too late that we chose the wrong spot - once the entire porch and everything on it was covered with red dust. We moved it over a garden trellis and Jason spent another hour plus on it. We are pretty sure we removed pounds of dust...

No halo of light around her head this time but a similar position and performing a similar role - so, so grateful for the extra set of hands and the encouragement for various parts of the process! Not photographed well here but Mom tackled the front porch cleaning which was a BONUS job added to the front room - it needed it!

Had to find creative places to eat for a few days - the 75 degree day was not difficult!

Alida's birthday trip to the library had netted a few DVD's. "Don't let the Pigeon Drive the Bus" provided a bit of a break for the adults from troubleshooting the younger daughters' squabbles for a bit!

Day #2 felt like hump day - as I knew if we could get the rooms both cleaned out and ready to "move back into" it would feel like we were going to make it to the finish line! We mostly worked together on it until Terah's afternoon nap and got the room finished up, with the girls taking a break in there somewhere to dye some Easter eggs. In the afternoon, while I did my office work stint like I do each day while Terah snoozes, Jason and Kali took advantage of the great gardening weather to get the onions in. We had high hopes of squeezing into the cracks our major spring planting over these days as well - yes, just a tad ambitious! Onions are in, and then in the evening we were back on it. With the room cleaned, it was time to start on the piles of stuff! This is the emotional part of the process for all of us, and I will admit to being too intense at times and overly impatient when the girls needed some moments to deal with their sentimental attachment to various items. We also were able to have some good laughs together and sometimes taking a silly picture with an item being parted with was helpful! And I was not immune to needing to hang on to something because I felt to emotionally connected to it - I parted with all but one of the tiny books that were small enough for Nora to hold on her own.

Alida is probably at the toughest age for this undertaking but she really has been a good sport overall!

Take note of Grandma's little helper in the background?!

The room had a great echo when empty!

It was a little chillier on day 2 so a picnic in the back kitchen had to do!

Jason's expression about says it all! This was after 9 p.m. on day 2 - time to call it a day!
Yesterday was Day #3, and included a lot of going through the little things, fixing/modifying some things, Jason taking a break to pick up milk for chickens/pigs (coming Monday!)/us, and once again using the afternoon/early evening time to do gardening. I even got to join for a stint of gardening - planting cabbage, lettuce and perennial onions (I didn't quite get out in time for shallots). Alida preferred to play Save the Whales with Grandpa but Terah was very eager to be part of the gardening! AND I only got to be part since I didn't have to worry about dinner preparations. We came in hungry from the garden and sat up to a delicious meal made by Mom! After dinner, we went down to tackle the coat rack and shoes. I had felt rather hopeless about our ability make sense of that part of the front room, but I should not have underestimated the power of the deep clean! We did decide to call it a night before finishing up the hats/scarves/gloves basket as everyone's nerves were shot! And we wanted to fit in a game and popcorn with Grandma and Grandpa. We were close enough to done to feel like a little pre-celebration was in order!
We have never used this as a magazine rack but do as a table - so Jason took off the rack. It's so much better but Alida needed a few pictures to remember forever and ever how it was before being tampered with! 
Ahh! Little changes are going to make a big difference!

Lots of things from that open corner in the "waiting room" to see how much we miss them. As of this morning our "Dr. Seuss plant" came back in after being repotted and pruned back and we got verbal approval from the girls to get rid of the basket chair!

This is a new REALLY fun and special thing - Alida is reading to Terah!!
Trying hard to make the coat rack paring down fun - family fashion show!
And now here we are back to today: Day #4. Terah is now awake and the younger girls are ready to head outside to join Jason and Kali in the gardens. Today the hope was to plant peas, lettuce, cilantro, dill, parsley, collards, beets and I'm likely forgetting a few things. We'll see how far they have gotten. Before too long Ivy is joining us (with her parents!) for an Easter egg hunt and some fun together!

Today has been the "tying up loose ends" day and doing a bunch of non-front room things (other cleaning that had been set aside, reloading wood boxes, cooking, etc...). Jason did a bunch of plant re-potting, we went through the scarves and sunglasses (the LAST of the sorting), and otherwise the day has been enjoying our hard work and making little rearranging tweaks! We even were able to create a new little "baby toys and mat play area" due to removing the basket chair (which has been with Jason since college). We enjoyed lunch in a finished room, with very fancy and delicious spinach salad complete with violets the girls picked fresh for the meal!
I'm not going to take more time now to reflect on this process overall, and who knows if I'll get back to it in this space or not. In short: hands down it was more work than I imagined and way more transformative than I was expecting. I'm hooked BUT not on doing it yearly. Jason and I are thinking more in terms of a 5 year plan! So check back in in 2023... Not to turn my attention to the outside world!

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