Saturday, August 13, 2016

Empty Nest Perks

The big entertainment center in my tiny living room after July's deep-cleaning.
(Yes, the Christmas lights Dylan put up in December are still there. I decided
to leave them until next Christmas, then give them to him for his own home.)

By 8:00 this morning, I had cleaned out and reorganized my kitchen cupboards, pantry, and refrigerator. I'd also washed up last night's dishes, planned my meals for the coming week, and made a shopping list for today's shopping trip. I love when my day starts out productively!

I have way too much furniture crammed into my small home!
I actually take tons of these pictures after deep-cleaning each year so I can
update my home inventory for insurance purposes. But handy for blogging!

There are still a few items on my to-do list, of course. A couple of bills to pay, a letter to write, the previously mentioned shopping, two loads of laundry to wash/dry/put away, my bangs to trim, a decision to be made regarding for whom I will cast my vote in the upcoming primary election. The thing that amazes me is that the reorganizing of my kitchen was not on my to-do list, yet I had plenty of time to do it.

New items on my shelves: My son Jacob gave me the lovely figurine
for Mothers Day. Her banner is printed with the word "Teacher." 
Also on Mother's Day, my new son-in-law Jake gave me the sweet plaque.
It proclaims, "Children are born with wings, teachers help them to fly."

I'm discovering there are some very nice perks to having an empty nest. In July, after my long 6-week respiratory illness and the stress of being under threat of evacuation for the Cedar Fire, I was finally able to finish deep-cleaning my house. And guess what? It's still clean! It's very freeing to know that for the remainder of this year the only mundane cleaning tasks needing to be done will be occasional dusting and vacuuming. Everything else is optional.

More graceful Willow Tree figures adorn the shelves.
All but two were gifts from my sweet Sarah.

Other tasks are likewise simplified. Mark washes his own work clothes (his Denny's shirts are so saturated with airborne cooking grease that the smell of them makes me queasy), but I add his regular clothes to mine just so I'll have full loads to wash, and it still only makes two loads per week. That's if I'm not also washing bedding, of course. 

The bottom shelf holds part of my Japanese art collection, collected
during the two years I worked in a Japanese factory in Anaheim.
Above that, I rearranged my castle shelf, which made more room and...

With just two people to feed, both of whom are working and away from home a lot, there are far fewer dishes to be washed. Except, of course, after our weekly family dinner on Sundays, which usually generates a lot of dishes. (Keep in mind, I still don't have a dishwasher, so it's all done by hand.) Mark helps out with dishes on his days off. He also cleans the bathrooms, takes care of car stuff, and keeps his own room tidy. He even makes his bed before he leaves for work every morning.

...allowed me to fill an empty shelf in Mark's room, mentioned in an earlier post.

Shopping no longer means hauling in and putting away twenty or more bags of supplies. Nowadays, we usually have less than ten bags of goods when we get home from Walmart, which we can bring inside in a single trip. I admit, I do most of the putting away, although Mark helps when asked. I have a system that no one else seems to understand!

Everything in my house has a memory attached to it.
Jacob sent me the wooden bear hanging while he was serving his mission
in northern California. My former stepson Ryan and his wife Shera 
gave me the Family Rules for Christmas the year they stayed with us.

As I've said before, I would never trade a moment of the years I spent raising my children. In fact, I wish I'd worried less about keeping a clean house and focused more on simply enjoying my little ones, because those years disappear much too quickly.

In first grade, my kids each did a little booklet about their families. One page featured a fill-in: "My dad likes to ____. My mom likes to _____." Over the years, without fail, all three of my children wrote, "My dad likes to go fishing. My mom likes to clean house." I didn't love cleaning house! It just seemed so necessary. I think I was a little afraid someone would come and take away my greatest treasures--my children--if my house weren't spotless enough.

I love family pictures so much that there's no more wall space!
The photo and bronzed baby shoes on the desk are mine. I was two.

In the end, I think everything turned out okay. We still managed to build enough precious memories that our family is very close. We all have our own lives now, but we still love being together as often as we can manage it.

Family photos line every inch of my short hall, on both sides!

However, now is my season for a quiet, clean home and more time to tackle long-postponed tasks, as well as to savor getting back to the projects and hobbies I abandoned long ago in favor of building a family. It was the best decision I ever made, but now is the time for Sarah, Jacob, and Dylan to build their own families while I reinvent myself. And I'm going to love watching it all unfold!

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