November 29, 2012

Lessons

I had to learn AGAIN yesterday the lesson I have already had to learn a thousand times: That if I am being reduced to slumped-shoulder teary-eyed despair by all hundreds of things that need doing everywhere around me, it will actually HELP to actually DO some of those things. I don't know why it feels as if it's pointless, when I've learned so many times that it WILL HELP.

Yesterday after I refilled the soap dispenser, and picked the disposable flosser up off the floor and threw it away, and refilled the cat food container, and washed the pan soaking in the sink, and got out the Christmas address labels, I felt much MUCH better---even though I hadn't scooped the litter box, done any laundry, done any Christmas cards, or done any of the other hundreds of things that had been bringing me down.

I'd only made a FEW, SMALL improvements, each of which took only a few seconds or at most a couple of minutes, but those helped cut down on the number of things I was seeing every time I went into those rooms. The pan in the sink was only one thing, but it was catching my eye EVERY TIME I WENT INTO THE KITCHEN, and so it had felt like a dozen things, and so washing it was like getting a dozen things done. And every single time I went into the bathroom, I was seeing the stupid flosser on the floor, and then a couple minutes later thinking "Oh, the stupid SOAP dispenser!," so those two things felt like a dozen things, and taking care of those two things felt like getting two dozen things done.

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Another recent set of lessons includes "Things That Will Burst Into Flame, FOOMPH!"

William has been engrossed in a series of wax/candle projects/experiments. Recently he's been melting down free candles (he got a bunch from a place we have in town that's like a Freecycle Hut: leave anything you don't want, take for free anything you do want) and pouring the wax into a large fish bowl with wicks dangling down into it. It's looking pretty neat, all stripey.

Anyway, you know what bursts into flame? Wax that got accidentally dripped on a stove burner and down into the little drip-pan underneath. First it just smoked a bit, and I thought, "Well, sure, this is what happens to anything that spills on the burner. It smokes a bit and then it's gone." But then: FOOMPH!! and there were flames, and I stood there staring at them and then slowwwwwwly got a cup of water and slowwwwwly poured it onto the flames, wondering why I was moving so very slowwwwly.

The other thing that bursts into flames: parchment paper in an oven set to broil. I was making a toasted cheese sandwich, and I took the pan out of the oven to flip the sandwich over and I noticed the paper was getting kind of brown, and then I put the pan back into the oven and FOOMPH!! The box of parchment paper has anticipated this, and has a temperature-limit listed---but I had been thinking "parchment paper = aluminum foil" for so long, I wasn't thinking about it anymore.

Oh, one more thing that bursts into flames: crunchy taco shell in a toaster oven. I only needed one or two and it seemed silly to heat up the whole oven for that, so I put them in the toaster oven. And they were doing very nicely, and then FOOMPH!!! I read the box, incredulous, and sure enough: "Do not use toaster oven due to possible risk of fire."

31 comments:

Becky said...

I needed this reminder today. My apartment is driving me crazy, and I'm first trimester pregnancy exhausted (insomnia and nauseous), and I just don't want to do anything when I get home. But even doing one or two small things will help immensely. That's my goal for tonight. One or two things.

Slim said...

Fahrenheit 451, as illustrated by Swistle.

Laura Diniwilk said...

I can not even tell you how many times I have been overwhelmed, thought of your Drops IN the bucket! post, and then made little bits of progress. Seriously. Life changing.

LiciaLee said...

I am exactly that same way about the stuff. It gets out of hand and I just don't know where to start and I sit here and cry about how awful everything is and I just don't know what to do when I could be DOING something.

Beylit said...

And this is exactly why I have to dedicate an entire weekend to doing nothing but cleaning and errands. I know a little at a time will help, but I have overwhelmed myself to the point where I just have to do it all at once.

Also flammable: The plastic fan blades in the fan in your vent hood. Who thought that it was a good idea to put plastic fans over a stove? Also your vent hood is pretty flammable if it has grease build up on it.

MomQueenBee said...

Ooooh! I want to live at your house! It sounds so exciting, with the filled soap dispensers and the FOOMPH-ing. Mine, on the other hand, is just filled with not-decorated-for-Christmas spaces that make me despair.

StephLove said...

I had about a half hour to clean this morning and I had to decide whether to do a slip-shod job on a large area or a really good job on a small area. I decided to take everything off the mantle and dust because X-mas cards arriving soon and it was depressing to think about propping them up amidst the cobwebs. I am happy every time I look at it. But the rest of the house looks terrible.

Heather said...

So I have a 'half hour housework burst' system. I put the oven timer on for a half hour and do all the little annoying things I spot. A half hour doesnt seem like a huge sacrafice of time but very effective. Now I've taught my sister that method and she loves it.

Shelly said...

Wow, you better be careful or you'll burn your house down! Watch out!

And yes, drops IN the bucket is a frequent motto for me, too!

Saly said...

Have you ever gotten those super thin fried in the restaurant chips with a meal? I thought it was a good idea to bring these home and heat them in the toaster oven. Not such a good idea--FOOMPH!! Instant flames. And I just stood there, looking at them. It was good that Ed was home.

Gina said...

I have been saying that I need a toaster oven, but I realize now that it wold be dangerous for me to have one.

Joanne said...

There's a Japanese word, kaizen, that I learned about in management classes. It means just 'improvement' and the idea is that by doing lots of little improvements, little things, it will make the big things better. In business it means like purchasing, and packaging or whatever but I try and use it as a SAHM. It makes me feel better about picking up, say, 1000 used tissues this cold season. It seems like I am just picking up dirty tissues, but really, I am cleaning the house! Improving my life! It's probably a reach but I have to do whatever I can to not lose my ding dang mind.

Anna said...

I'm another one who thinks 'drops IN the bucket' when I'm feeling overwhelmed. Thank you so much for that! I was ill yesterday so today was a drops-in-the-bucket day.

Nicole said...

DROPS IN THE BUCKET! IN THE BUCKET! IN!

I think about that all the time.

I am terrified of things bursting into flames, and so I don't allow candles (except birthday) in the house, and I unplug all appliances right after use, especially the coffee pot. Although I've never heard of a coffee pot bursting into flame, it could. Anything is possible.

Amelia said...

In my house, we play the "company" game: when I'm feeling overwhelmed by the messiness/things that need doing, I yell, "Okay, everybody! Company is coming in 15 minutes! I want everything cleaned up!" And then we move into that panic-y cleaning mode like you do when company is coming and you MUST straighten up or risk looking like a horde of unwashed gypsies lives in your house and it is AMAZING how much you can get done. Sometimes even 5 minutes will do. Put away the clothing on the floor! Wipe down the table! Put all the toys in the toy box! Sweep!

Surely said...

Did not know that taco shells were flammable! Good to know!

I've been known to catch waxed paper on fire...I know, you're surprised.

Drop in the Bucket, my friend. One Drop!!

Anonymous said...

Little things at a time AND "Good Enough". Things don't have to be spotless. Our highest standard these days is "Good Enough".

Melanie Myatt said...

i ruined my parents' toaster oven by reheating some nacho chips in there. they caught on fire. who knew?

Still Playing School said...

I SO needed to read this today. I am a mess of hormones, nesting, with four days left until the baby arrives. I can't do it all, but I should do what I can.

Gigi said...

Why couldn't I have read this early this morning? After being out of work for about a week I was sucked into the vortex immediately and was about in tears after only half an hour and totally overwhelmed. Just realizing that doing one or two things at a time would ease my burden would have helped immensely.

Elsha said...

My grandma used to say, "It's not the things you do that make you tired, it's the things you don't do." Wise woman.

Katie said...

Oh that quote by Elsha's grandmother may have just changed my life!!

It is so so true. In this crazy season where it looks like a Christmas greenery store threw up on the dining room floor and I just....can't deal. And the entire main floor of the house is in complete and total disarray, my socks are sticking to the floor, every toy is scattered over every surface....Ugh. Well, I had happened to have cleaned my bedroom and made my bed the other day....and just knowing when I go into my room, it is (Fairly) serene has changed my life too. So I have vowed the following for this Christmas season: No matter what chaos is happening in the rest of the house, I will do two things: keep up with the dishes and keep my room serene. That's it. That's all I am going to do.

So, damn. That means I have to get off the internet and do the dishes. Boo.

artemisia said...

HA HA HA HA! So much fire.

I never would have guessed that tortillas of all types would be so flammable in a toaster oven, but here you go. So many comments about flaming tortillas!

Maggie said...

A sincere thank you for the taco shell warning. I had no idea. I regularly heat taco shells in the toaster oven for taco night. I walk away, leave them unattended, pay no attention at all. ACK! Could have burned down the house. Will probably not stop cooking them in there, but will do so only when physically next to the thing.

My drops in the bucket reminders often have to come at work. I often feel completely overwhelmed looking at my to do list and want to shut down. Then I remind myself to look only at a particular tree, not at the whole forest. Looking at the forest can be a dangerous mistake for me.

Jenny said...

I did this just yesterday! Made a huge list of ALL THE THINGS and then just did the small ones that were easy to do, like quick emails, and it cut my to-do list easily in half! I felt like a million bucks afterward, instead of like a horrible procrastinator on a sinking ship.

Doing My Best said...

I happen to know that a Very Nice Person designed two Drops In the Bucket magnets when I asked her to, which I ordered and keep around my house (possibly in "high mess" areas) to remind me =).

http://www.zazzle.com/bucket_magnet_2-147039195644557479

http://www.zazzle.com/bucket_magnet-147131162181494685

Christina said...

I so needed to read the first half right about now. Amazing to see in words.

Your house seems VERY EXCITING! I don't think I've had anything catch on fire! I'm jealous!

Kira said...

I just want to say how glad I am that someone else lets their children play with fire.
Wait, that came out wrong.
Since the boys were pretty young (seven?) I've let them sit at the newspaper covered table and play with matches and candles. With a bowl of water for dropping matches in. They love it. It's the most peaceful activity in our house ever. Just when I think they're too old for it, one of them will pull out the shoe box filled with sad odds and ends of candles, and the whole thing starts over. And since I know you allow something like this too, I figure I can now stop feeling slightly guilty about it.

CARRIE said...

The holidays are a coup to make moms feel as if they're heads will explode with one.....I mean 10 TRILLION ....more thing to do.

shin ae said...

How did I not know about the existence of those magnets? They're great. I'm thinking little enclosures in Christmas cards for my friends with 5+ kids, because HOW ARE THEY DOING IT? I don't even know. That doesn't help, does it?

Anyway, I really like this philosophy, especially as I strive to make my highly un-guest-ready house guest-ready for the holidays.

Misty said...

WHOA! These are very good things to know. And I have made taco shells in the toaster oven. Jesus.