Sunday, August 16, 2015

How to Decrapify a Kid's Bedroom in Four Short Days

Do you ever get what you think is going to be a great idea and then it turns out to be an epic flop? It happens to me a lot. So much that I've become pretty familiar with failure. We're pretty tight.

Well, a couple weeks ago I got one of those great ideas and I came up with a chore list for my girls to completely clean out their rooms, decrapify and spring clean, all without my supervision and nagging.

We are all kinds of crazy in this house.

I decided I was going to break it down, with very specific, anal instructions that went day by day over the course of a week.

I typed up a list and taped one to each of the girls' bedroom doors. Then I snapped a picture and posted it on Instagram and Facebook. I was so proud of myself. Then the doubt set in. What if my kids laughed at me and refused to comply?

I'm sure my kids are very typical in that they groan and complain whenever I ask them to do chores. Zoe especially. She acts like I'm asking her to give up a kidney when I ask her to do something as simple as water the garden.

Well, much to my surprise my girls complied without any prompting from me. In fact, it probably helped that I was out of the house all week at teacher education classes, and I wasn't able to check in on them. They stepped up and did everything on the list each day, and most days they even got a head start on the next day's list, just so they could get it done.

Here's how it went down.

Day #1 - Bed/Books

1. Take all bedding off bed and dust with a rag.

2. Wash all bedding and make bed.

3. Clean underneath bed: remove EVERYTHING and sweep or vacuum and mop.

4. Organize under bed (plastic containers with lids are in the guest room).

5. Go through books upstairs and downstairs and make a pile to donate. I expect to see your donate pile, so do not dump it in the guest room.

I don't know about you, but in this house the guest room is the dumping grounds, so whenever anyone has something they don't want anymore and they are too lazy to do something about it (myself included) we just dump it in the guest room to worry about another day. That day is usually the day before a guest arrives for a visit, at which point the pile may or may not be dealt with, and is sometimes hidden underneath the tables in my crafting area. 

Denial is my BFF.

Day #2 - Closet-A-Palooza

1. Remove everything from the closet and vacuum or sweep and mop in closet

2. Wash shelves and walls in closet with a rag and 409

3. Make a pile of shoes and clothes that no longer fit for donating.

4. Throw away trash and set aside anything you wish to donate. I expect to see your donate pile, so do not dump it in the guest room.

5. Return things to your closet that you are keeping. Dust them off as you go, and put them away neatly.

As you can see, I'm very sensitive and mistrusting about the dumping of the crap in the guest room.

This is Zoe's closet after decrapification. I realize that it may not look like much, but I feel I should reiterate that this is Zoe's closet. She's my hoarding baby and she will keep gum wrappers because the trash can is so far away.

I am very, very proud of the work she did especially because organizing and cleaning has never been her thing.

It is such an incredibly painful process to clean out her room because we have very different standards and she thinks that I'm an OCD freak and completely unrealistic about the way her room should look.

Maybe, but I'm the boss and she has to listen to me because I'm bigger. And meaner. And her mom, dang it.

I know we clean her room at least once a year, but I don't have an explanation for this shirt that clearly has not fit her for years.

Day #3 - Dresser

1. Put everything in your hamper in the washing machine and start a load.

2. Take everything out of your dresser and place it on your neatly made bed.

3. Vacuum out dresser drawers and dust outside of dresser with furniture polish.

4. Carefully fold clothes and return those that still fit and you intend to wear to your dresser. Follow the Kon Marie Method of folding (look it up if you weren't paying attention).

5. Carefully fold clothes to donate and make a separate pile. Leave it on your bed.

6. Move clothes in the washer to the dryer and make sure all of your laundry is folded and put away.

So I've been reading that book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, and I was sort of joking about #4. Although the book has some great advice, like most self help books do, I feel like the author could have said what she needed to say with a whole lot fewer words.

And the whole idea of thanking the stuff that I'm purging for its service and the joy it has brought me just makes me roll my eyes. Ain't nobody got time for that.

If I'm going to be talking to my clothes as I kick them to the curb it's going to be a whole lot more satisfying than that mess. I might say "I never liked the way you made my butt look you sorry excuse for a pair of jeans!"

I could maybe get behind that, but still, unnecessary waste of time in my world.

Day #4 - Everything Else

1. Move all furniture and clean behind and underneath.

2. Clean all furniture with furniture polish.

3. Wipe down lower walls, baseboards, and chair rails with a rag and soapy water (use a bucket of warm water with a drop of dish soap in it). Use 409 on hard to clean spots.

4. Wipe down window casing and clean inside of window.

5. Declutter!!!! By this, I mean make a pile of things to donate and throw away things that are junk. I want to see your donate pile, so don't just dump it in the guest room.

6. Organize your stuff. Everything should have a place and everything should be in its place. Surfaces should be clear. Nothing should be on the floor if it is not a piece of furniture.

7. Ask your sister to look over your room and give you constructive, polite criticism.

Notice the guest room/crap disclaimer is there again. I'm very, very twitchy about it.

I will tell you right now that #7 is a potential mine field. I knew this when I typed it but I did it anyway because I wanted to see if they could handle it. That, and I like cheap entertainment.

However, to my surprise, again, they handled themselves beautifully and even worked together at times.

This is Zoe's room at the end of decrapification. Zoe's room never looks like this. Never. This was a big deal for her to do with zero help from me. And Hallelujah, because I loathe participating in this particular aspect of parenting my children.

And this is Stinkerbell's room. To be honest, this whole purge, clean, organize thing was just a typical day in the life of Stinkerbell. She has always been obviously my child as far as cleaning, organizing, and all things domestic go.

Except for that brief period of time in her preschool years when she curated some very disturbing collections of fingernail clippings and crumbs from each day's preschool snack hidden in her closet.

Now, I'm sure many of you are wondering how I encouraged my kids to do this without some sort of threat or motivation, so I'm going to fess up right now and tell you that I used both.

In fact, at the bottom of their lists was the following statement.

There will be a military-like inspection every day at 5:00 p.m. I expect you to be in your room and ready for inspection. If I am happy with the result, you will receive a REWARD. If I am not happy, you will receive a CONSEQUENCE. Do not disappoint me. J

I didn't think this part through very well and most days I couldn't tell you what that day's reward was going to be. The girls would ask me and I would fake them out and tell them "It's a surprise. You'll have to wait and see."

I didn't have to come up with any consequences because they met the deadline to my satisfaction every day. And thank goodness, because I could see myself raising my arms over my head threateningly and yelling "RAWR!" at them or something ridiculous like that. In reality I'm sure I could deliver, if pressed.

I don't think they should know ahead of time what the reward or consequence will be because they might decide the reward wasn't worth it or the consequence was not a big deal. Anticipation is king.

The first day the reward was the biggest because I wanted them to get excited. I took them to the book store and let each of them pick out a new book. 

The second day we took them out for ice cream after dinner.

The third day I gave each of them $5.

The fourth day I told them that I was going to take them to the museum for the Pirates exhibit they've been wanting to see. And nobody has to know that I was going to take them anyway.

I can honestly say it was worth every penny, and I will be making this a yearly project every summer.

It was such a success in my world, that we have moved onto other areas of the house. In this picture they are cleaning out our coat closet. The possibilities are endless!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Kimikaze and the Abundance of Marshmallows

It was a day like any other at school. In the half hour before school started I was in and out of my classroom several times in preparation for the day. Upon returning to my classroom one of those times, I found this on my desk.

It's not easy to make out what lies in that murky water, but I will tell you they are fish. Whole, dead, stinky fish. Creepy eyes included. And someone was nice enough to lovingly write "You Stink!" on the lid.

Immediately I suspected Kimikaze, the most evil of our science teachers, so I marched down to her room to confront her about the fish.

"What's the big idea leaving the stinky fish on my desk, Sister?" I interrogated her.

"What? I don't know what you're talking about, but I wish it were me," she smiled sheepishly.

She's such a lying lier. I don't trust her one little bit.

"You know exactly what I'm talking about, and right now I'm scared that you can lie so convincingly. You must be a sociopath!" I accused her.

"No. It wasn't me," she innocently declared.

"Humph," I exhaled and marched out.

After interrogating a few students that were hanging out in my classroom when the fish was planted, I had the name of the accomplice that delivered the fish. I was sure Kimikaze had put the student up to it. In middle school, the kids are generally very happy to get involved with trickery.

I set out in search of the accomplice in the halls and was able to extract a confession with some dirty tricks of my own. I cornered the suspected student and immediately he threw his hands up in the air, as if to proclaim his innocence, and he swore it wasn't him. I told him to knock off the act, I had him on camera. That caught him off guard and then he became flustered and started apologizing.

I didn't really have him on camera, but he didn't know that. Sometimes I lie.

Anyway, long story short, he sang like a canary and it was on with Kimikaze and I. This was in January, and we spent the rest of the school year pranking each other.

I went home that night and started a secret Pinterest board for all the tricks I was going to play on that little rat fink.

I began my semester of epic revenge with the following gift.

I prepared a jar of candy for Kimikaze that had a core of Skittles surrounded by M&M's. While Skittles and M&M's are yummy, it's disturbing when you eat an M&M and find out it's really a Skittle or the other way around.

After that, Kimikaze snuck into my room and turned all the student desks to face the back of the room. And since she had other evil science teachers assist her with that trick, they were then subject to my revenge.

Much to their surprise.

Mrs. Odell is deathly afraid of spiders, so this is what I did for her. Just in case you can't read the writing, it says "If you set it free, be ready to kill it. Just saying."

And let me just ask, what kind of science teacher is afraid of spiders? I think there must be a rule against that or something.

Kimikaze had to come and retrieve the spider set-up. There wasn't really a spider, but the students warned them to "make sure to look inside the cup in case it was hiding." Bless them.

I also planted plastic spiders strategically throughout the room and she would find them periodically and give herself little mini heart attacks.

At one point this little Pheasant showed up in my room. He's not creepy at all which means that this totally backfired on the evil science teachers because I really dig him. In fact, I named him Phil the Pheasant on account of he has a face that makes you just want to unload all your problems. He was a pretty good listener during his brief stay with me, but I had to give him back because he was starting to make me itch.

I think he had fleas.

I also planted a remote control fart machine in Kimikaze's room, but she wasn't phased a bit. A few of her students were probably embarrassed when she gave them the hairy eyeball for farting so excellently though.

I also planted a noisemaker in Mr. Walsh's room that was supposed to provide chirping cricket sounds and drive him over the edge. However, in my panic of setting it up, I accidentally moved the switch to the cell phone on vibrate noise. According to my spies, he asked his students several times to turn off their cell phone before they alerted him to the fact that it was him.

I had adhesive dotted the device underneath his desk.

Ten minutes into the period my door opened and he just gave me the hairy eyeball and adhesive dotted it to the inside of my door.

I guess he wasn't impressed.


He left me these freeze dried science ickies. The one on the left is a bat, and the one of the right is Toothless the Dragon.

This was my attempt at making a glitter bomb. I made one for Kimikaze and one for Mrs. Odell.

Sadly, neither one of them fell for it.

I was forced to resort to ordering the spring loaded glitter bomb online. It cost me twenty-five big ones and it was worth every penny.

Kimikaze didn't want to break a nail trying to open it so she used her mouth.

Yes she did.

Glitter bomb delivered straight to the face and right down the cleavage. High five!

Her husband thanked me for the gift.

Even though the other science teachers were brought into our little war, they also proved to be most helpful in providing me with assistance at times.

Somewhere along the way I was provided with the knowledge that Kimikaze was deathly afraid of snakes.

Again, what kind of science teacher is afraid of snakes?!

I don't know where they are finding these science teachers, but I believe we are faced with an educational crisis here.

Anyway, Kimi was so on edge about the possibility of me planting a snake in her classroom, that she was freaking herself out with the anticipation.

No lie. She was walking into school one day and she saw a dirty shoe lace on the ground and jumped back because she thought it was a snake that I planted for her.

A shoe lace.

And she gave me a tongue lashing for it too. I told her that I did not plant the shoe lace snake for her, but I was ecstatic that she was scaring herself and saving me the extra trouble.

Since that went over so well, I did plant a rubber snake in her science supply room and it disappeared. It was very Twilight Zone, but she never found it.

Maybe I'll get lucky and she'll find it this next year and it can be the gift that keeps on giving.

Kimikaze has a Diet Coke habit so I bought this just for her.

. . . and I spiked it with an old packet of soy sauce and an old packet of hot sauce that I found deep in the back of my desk drawer. Those things don't have expiration dates on them, do they?

Anyway, the last week of school I got it smuggled into her refrigerator stash of sodas and because I must be the luckiest person on Earth, she popped that puppy open on day one.

Mrs. Morgan shared with me how it all played out. Kimikaze cracked it open and took a swig and immediately knew something was wrong. It didn't taste right and it had little floaties in it. She dang near threw up, so maybe this trick was going a little too far.

What the heck, high five anyway!

After that I'm pretty sure I deserved to have my car keyed or something, but that would be pretty pointless because I drive a minivan. I'd be all "So? It can't really get any worse that what it is already. Ha. Ha. Good one?"

Kimi did have plans for me, and she got me good, although not without a little backfiring of her own.

It all played out on the last day of school. Generally I'm at school at least fifteen minutes early every day, but on the last day of school I wasn't feeling it, so I sauntered in ten minutes late. And instead of going straight to my classroom, I stopped by the office to buy a yearbook on account of I wanted to have memories and all.

Little did I know that Kimikaze and the rest of the science meanies had been hiding out in the room across from mine for the last half hour just so they could see my reaction to the havoc they wreaked on my room.

Kimi was having the stress sweats because I didn't show up and she thought maybe I was going to have a sub on the last day. She called the office inquiring where I was and she was basically FUH-reaking out.

So I got a little revenge before having this little mess delivered to me on a platter.

I walked in and was greeted by the creepy life-sized, cardboard Harry Potter. He has been in my room on several occasions since this Prank-A-Palooza started, so it's practically an announcement of mischief at play.

Some ridiculous nonsense message on my board stating how much more I love science than math or whatever. As if.

My whole room toilet papered. Is this where my tax dollars are being spent?

As I'm walking into this mess my phone starts ringing, so I walked over to pick it up.

Oh yes she did.

And that's not all.

Every. Single. Drawer, including my nine filing cabinet drawers, were filled to the brim with every size and type of marshmallow on the planet. Also, my refrigerator and freezer. No space was left unfilled.

All the marshmallows in the world were in my room.

So myself and several students filled every container I had with marshmallows, several times, and delivered them back to Kimikaze.

She gave me a fat lip when she threw a frozen marshmallow at my face. Can you believe that?

These are the pictures that the evil science teachers posted on Facebook implicating themselves.

They think they're so funny.

Okay, they are. They got me pretty good.

Ha ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.

I like to have the last word though, so that science teacher you see in the back there? That's Mr. Walsh. He's the one that started this whole thing because the fish belong to him.

Naturally, he was also responsible for finishing it. With my help, of course.

He brought the fish back to me for the last hurrah.

I left a little note. Not that it was necessary with the stench.

And I set the fishies free.

I almost hurled even with the rubber gloves. The fish were rubbery.

Good thing I'm not a science teacher.

Kimi laughed and started putting the school of fish away.

Maybe after a little snack.

Or a kiss.

Kimi was a good sport throughout, and we all had so much fun pranking each other. I know I'm forgetting some of our pranks, but these were the highlights.

At our last faculty meeting there was some mention of all the locks being changed so I couldn't get back in to continue the terror.

However, I recently accepted a job as a Math Specialist in our district, which means I'll be in and out of the schools frequently, perhaps even stationed in the same building as Kimikaze, and the terror will continue.