Wednesday, December 29, 2010

new year's rewards

(written in the Houston airport during a 2.5 hr layover that was lengthened by another 3 hours and counting...)

Every year I make up some New Year's Resolutions when Abe asked me what my New Year's Resolutions are. I usually don't get past January. And I don't care too much.

But this year is different.

Not because I'm suddenly more into self improvement. Good bye noble intrinsic motivations. Hello external rewards.

Abe and I are each making 3 resolutions, effective Jan 1. If I complete my resolutions by 11:59 on Dec 31, 2011, then Abe will reward me with in-kind gifts of servitude. I'll do the same for him. The exact terms of the agreement (specific resolutions with measurable outcomes, as well as detailed plans for said servitude) are forthcoming. We'll mail ourselves the terms and open them next New Year's.

What I've learned from this experience is that it is much more fun to think of rewards for making my resolutions than actually making the resolutions themselves. Any suggestions for what my reward should be?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

friday photos: a special edition

Merry Christmas! Hope you are having a warm and cozy holiday weekend.

This is the online version of our annual Christmas card. We weren't able to send print copies to everyone we would have liked to (any some of those print copies may still be in transit...). On the plus side, the digital version has linked references.

Without further ado, Merry Christmas from Abe, Erin & Genghis!

Dear Friends,

As our thought-provoking friends the Beach Boys have noted, "Christmas comes this time each year." And so we share with you our annual Christmas card. This year, it comes in 3 categories: Things you probably knew already, Things you might have already known, and Things you almost certainly did not know.

Probably Knew
Genghis (not his real name) Gong arrived August 1, healthy, happy and with a good set of lungs. Exactly 2 days before the arrival, Erin restructured her career by switching to part-time work from home. Abe is still serving in the singles ward Bishopric, and (at long last!) defended a plan for his dissertation.

Might Have Known
Abe and Erin are both blogging. Erin posts life musings and weekly baby photos at Abe posts extremely technical political ramblings at Genghis (not a blogger) has mastered thumb-sucking and sleeping through the night. He has also rolled over more than 30 times.

Did Not Know
Abe has written software to explore more than 2 million web sites and conduct the first-ever representative survey of the political blogosphere. Results forthcoming. Erin is currently writing a 1 million dollar grant application and conducted the first-ever convenience sample of people's household cleaning preferences. Genghis turns light switches on and off with his toes.

But what we really hope you know is that we are happy to have you as friends and family. We hope you are well; keep in touch. Merry Christmas and a Happy 2011!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

goldigong and the three laptops

Once upon a time there were three laptops, a Papa Laptop, a Mama Laptop and a Baby Laptop. One day, the three laptops sat down to compute. “This wireless network is too slow!” said Papa Laptop. “This wireless network is too slow!” said Mama Laptop. “This wireless network is too slow!” said Baby Laptop. “Let’s go play Mine Sweeper,” said Mama Laptop. “When we come back, our wireless network will be just right.”

Along came GoldiGong. She walked into the office. She saw three laptops hibernating. “This laptop is too slow,” said GoldiGong when she tried to boot up Mama Laptop, which was over 6 years old. “This laptop is faster,“ said GoldiGong of Baby Laptop, which was really a mini notebook. “This laptop is even faster!” said GoldiGong of Papa Laptop, whose tagline was “The Most Powerful 15-in Gaming Laptop in the Universe”. And she restarted Papa Laptop for hours on end, just to admire how fast it really was.

Papa Laptop

Then GoldiGong began to surf the web on all three laptops. “This screen is too small,” said GoldiGong, squinting to see the GMail login box on Baby Laptop’s 10-in screen. “This screen is too big,” said GoldiGong, consumed in the glowing aura of the 15-in Papa Laptop, “it will probably make me depressed if I leave it on too long.” “This screen is just right!” said GoldiGong of Mama Laptop. Then CRASH went the Mama Laptop’s hard drive and GoldiGong had to reboot.
Mama Laptop

GoldiGong felt tired. She picked up the laptops to go into the bedroom. “This laptop is too heavy,” said GoldiGong, as she hefted 9 lbs of Papa Laptop . “This laptop is still too heavy,” said GoldiGong of Mama Laptop, “and it hasn’t really worked at all.” “This laptop is very light!” said GoldiGong of Baby Laptop, which came in at just a few pounds. And she skipped up the stairs with Baby Laptop to join the other laptops in the bedroom.
Baby Laptop

GoldiGong snuggled into bed to fall asleep while watching YouTube videos. “This battery is almost dead,” said GoldiGong as Mama Laptop’s comfortably-sized screen switched into low power mode after only a few minutes. “And this battery isn’t much better,” said Goldilocks as Papa Laptop burned away on his Intel Core i7 processor. “But this battery lasts forever – or, at least long enough to watch Pride & Prejudice (the 1995 version).” And she fell asleep listening to Darcy and Elizabeth engage in witty verbal exchanges.

The three Laptops came back from playing Mine Sweeper. “Someone’s been booting me up,” said Papa Laptop. “Someone’s been surfing on my web browser,” said Mama Laptop. “Someone’s been toting me around,” said Baby Laptop. “And someone’s been watching Pride & Prejudice on YouTube!” said all three laptops. “And here she is!”

GoldiGong woke up. She saw three angry Laptops looking at her. She looked back at them and said, “Papa Laptop, you’re too big and bulky to really be called a laptop. Mama Laptop, you’ve aged gracefully but your time is really past. And Baby Laptop, you have some respectable features but you’re just too small to work with.” So GoldiGong jumped out of bed and ran to the local computer store to buy something that better suited her needs.

Unfortunately, this is a fairy tale, so I'll just have to work with the computing power we currently have.

(btw, we don’t own Papa Laptop – he’s a rental from the University that Abe’s using for data processing)

*Text adapted from

Friday, December 17, 2010

friday photos

A few weeks ago, I was staying with my sister in Arizona. She collects everything: Newberry award books, aluminum cups, DVDs, shrunken heads. And, as it turns out, wigs.

Here I am sporting a fantastic red number with my now super cool son.

He wasn't as keen on the wig action.

I think he was really just upset because he looked too much like Howard Stern.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

musings on time and super powers after a long day

Over Thanksgiving, we discussed with our friends if "Going Back In Time" would be a useful super power. Since then, I read Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman, a series of short vignettes about what the world would be like under different laws of time.

An example:

24 April, 1905

In this world, there are two times. There is mechanical time and there is body time. The first is as rigid and metallic as a massive pendulum of iron that swings back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. The second squirms and wriggles like a bluefish in a bay. ...

Many are convinced that mechanical time does not exist. ... They wear watches on their wrists, but only as ornaments or as courtesies to those who would give timepieces as gifts. They do not keep clocks in their houss. Instead, they listen to their heartbeats. They feel the rhythms of their moods and desires. Such people eat when they are hungry, go to their jobs at the millinery or the chemist's whenever they wake from their sleep, make love all hours of the day. Such people laugh at the thought of mechanical time. ... They know that time struggles forward with a weight on its back when they are rushing an injured child to the hospital or bearing the gaze of a neighbor wronged. And they know too that time darts across the field of vision when they are eating well with friends. ...

Then there are those who think their bodies don't exist. They live by mechanical time. They rise at seven o'clock in the morning. ... When their stomach growls, they look at their watch to see if it is time to eat. When they begin to lose themselves in a concert, they look at the clock above the stage to see when it will be time to go home.

Anyway. Aside from being a nice alternative to an actual biography of Einstein that I've been reading (er, or letting sit on the bookshelf) for 2 months, this book got me thinking back to the conversation about "Going Back in Time" powers.

I am against having this power. Yes, you could go back in time to relive fun moments or to erase past mistakes. But I think I would end up in a continuous loop of going back to make better choices than I did the last time I went back to make better choices. I'd be stuck in 7th grade forever!

Plus, all super powers need limits. Probably the "Going Back in Time" limit would be that you had a rewind button but no fast forward. So you couldn't just skip from happy memory to happy memory. You'd have to live all the boring and uncomfortable parts in between.

And this brings things back to the age-old question: If you could have any super power, what would it be? Guests on a recent "This American Life" episode posited that when given the choice between the powers of Flight or Invisibility, people tend to choose flight as the more noble power but would rather be invisible so they could sneak into movies and shoplift.

I prefer to think better of humanity.

But if I could have a super power, I think it would be a third hand. It would come in so (I can't resist) handy!

Friday, December 10, 2010

friday photos (on time!)

Genghis's first hair cut.

Okay, so the baby bald spot was creating a double-mullet that needed to be dealt with.

Double-mullet sightings.

Ready for the hair cut.

Times of concentration and concern.


If you look closely, you'll see that I actually created a secondary bald patch on the right side of his head. Look, it was a difficult operation.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

agree or disagree?

Venn Diagram explanation: In music, the intersection of schmaltz and kitsch contains only holiday music played on the radio. In other words, there is no song that is both schmaltzy and kitschy that is not also holiday music. (Note: the reverse is not necessarily true, that holiday music must be schmaltzy or kitschy.)

Some definitions and examples for thought:

Kitsch: deliberate use of elements that may be thought of as cultural icons while making cheap mass-produced objects that are unoriginal. Types of art that are aesthetically deficient and make creative gestures which merely imitate the superficial appearances of art through repeated conventions and formulae.

The 1970s turn out to be a great era for kitsch. I wasn't able to embed this Bee Gees video but I highly recommend watching it as a prime example.

Schmaltz: excessively sentimental or florid music or art or maudlin sentimentality.

As much as I love Ol' Blue Eyes, he is quintessential schmaltz.

And, at the intersection. Oh, so many to choose from. How about this?

Bonus points for the random slideshow accompanying Andy Williams.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

friday photos

still, with the friday photos not on friday...

Here's Genghis enjoing his quilt made by Grandma Susan. I know you'll all realize that Genghis looks a little smaller here than in other recent photos - these photos were taken several few weeks ago.

Here's a picture from Thanksgiving, when we visited the famed Merry-Go-Round Museum of Sandusky, Ohio. "Look into the light, Genghis...look into the light..."

Monday, November 29, 2010

calling all meal planners

This Saturday I will be teaching a workshop on Meal Planning for a group of women at my church. Needless to say, I will highlight my crazy tech tools for meal planning. But I'm sure that won't be helpful for everyone, so I'll also cover alternative tips, tricks and tools for planning meals, shopping for groceries, and building a short-term supply of everyday foods.

So I'm on the hunt for such tips, tricks and tools. Any suggestions from your own experience on effective ways to do meal planning, shopping, and short-term food storage?

Here's a brainstorming list. Add to it!

- Keep grocery lists on your phone or on a Google doc so it's accessible from anyway
- Use Tasty Planner to store recipes and create shopping lists
- Start by making a list of everything you know how to make and love to eat
- Keep an ongoing list on the fridge of the foods you're running out of
- Pick 1 or 2 meals to always make on a certain night "Taco Tuesdays!"
- On a free evening, sit down and write out a meal plan and shopping list for an entire month (separate into 1-week shopping trips)
- Start a recipe blog with family or friends to share/store recipes
- Use to bookmark and tag recipes you love

Saturday, November 27, 2010

friday photos

I really should have called "friday photos" something else to obscure the fact that I'm often late.

Winter is upon us in Michigan, but here are some memories of warmer times last week in Arizona.

Genghis's first swim.

Also, I got a hair cut. Never gone this short before, but I like it!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

sing to me my angel of music

Many baby books tell you that the best way to help baby* develop verbally is to chatter to him about what you are doing. For example, a typical conversation with Genghis may be something like:

"Okay, now I'm going to set you down on your play mat."
"Whoa! Kid, it's just a play mat. You're kind of freaking out about this."
"It's okay. You're okay. Show me how you kick it to make music. Yeah, you can do it."
"Okay, we've moved into full freak out mode now. It's okay. It's okay. You're okay."
"Time for bed!"

I would argue that most of this commentary is really for the parent's sake. "It's okay" translated is "I'm a capable, strong parent and I love my child. We will make it through this."

Guided by numerous baby books, I have tried to keep a running commentary of actions with Genghis as we go through our day. It's surprisingly hard, particularly when I was only getting 3 hour stretches of sleep. Functioning at half capacity, I sometimes found myself at the changing table, with the diaper hanging there, trying to find words to put to the situation. Genghis and I would stare at each other in a mutual stupor. Eventually I'd startle awake enough to finish the task with an incoherent "Diaper change finished now all clean, so good, huh?, yes, so good".

This, combined with the fact that I want our children to enjoy music, has lead to me to a lot of ongoing singing. If you've got a song you know, you can groove for a few minutes without even thinking about it. Sometimes you can even get on auto-repeat for the chorus (or the 2-line couplet which is the only part of the song that you know) and continue for 10-minute stretches until your husband gives you a funny look.

But when I first tried singing to Genghis, I found it difficult to dig up a repertoire of songs. For a while we circulated through The Itsy Bitsy Spider and the Mexican Hat Dance for playtime and James Taylor's Sweet Baby James or I Am a Child of God (a children's song in our church) for sleeping.

I kept at it, though, and soon I was breaking out into songs that I hadn't sung in years, was embarrassed to admit I knew, or didn't realize I even knew.

Some favorites:
- Phantom of the Opera (in sleep he sang to me, in dreams he came...)
- All I ask (also from Phantom)
- Music of the Night (again, Phantom)
- Starlight Express (Title song from the underappreciated Andrew Lloyd Weber musical on rollerskates)
- Fantine's Death: Come to Me (Les Mis)
- Red & Black (Les Mis)
- Sing, Sing, Sing
- Mack the Knife
- Summertime
- In the Mood (I'm getting really good at scatting)
- The Speed Test (Thoroughly Modern Millie)
- I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General (Pirates of Penzance, I only know the first line)

We also keep a hymnbook in the nursery and pick out a new song each night to sing to Genghis before he goes to sleep for the night.

Soon he'll be well rounded in show tunes, swing, and 19th century Protestant melodies.

*In an attempt to mimic the parlance of said baby books, I have deliberately omitted the article before baby. This is common practice in these books ("Many parents wonder how long they should let baby cry", "Smiling at baby will help him learn social cues"). I always fill in the articles in my head.

Friday, November 12, 2010

friday photos

Showing off his affiliation with various organizations.

Ultimate Frisbee. (He has another Ultimate-themed shirt, but is still growing into it.)


A family photo. Most of these were blurred shots of Genghis face planting into the blanket.

Do I look more rested? I do? Why, thank you. That's because our super baby is now sleeping through the night! 11:30pm to 7:30am. We cut off his middle of the night food supply a week ago. He protested loudly the first night, but the next few nights complained just a little. We compromised on night 5 by unswaddling him. He is now a pro thumb sucker and blissful dreamer.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

remember when it was halloween?

Before it gets ridiculously late, here is my Halloween costume from 2010.

Inspired by Wallace & Gromit's "Feathers McGraw", a sinister penguin who disguises himself as a chicken.

I made the rooster cap and the feet out of old sweaters. The beak is felt, I've got a nylon on my head, and I'm wearing Abe's bathrobe. I love Halloween!

Perhaps even more cool than my costume, though, is the blog I stumbled upon while finding the Feathers McGraw poster. The photo I posted comes from blogger Jessica B.,, who makes bento boxes based on various themes and book characters. A bento box is a traditionally Japanese lunch tray of assorted foods (Check out the wikipedia article). Jessica's work is amazing. The link I posted features a sandwich in the shape of Wallace & Grommit. She has also done Hunger Games, Twilight, Where the Wild Things Are, and more.

Friday, November 5, 2010

friday photos

Genghis is very interested in the world around him. If the room is not dark and quiet, he refuses to sleep. This makes me nervous for an upcoming 3.5 hr flight I will be taking with him, alone. I can't even hide out in the bathroom (where he normally naps - look, it's the only room without windows) because plane bathrooms automatically light up when you go inside.

Anyway, often when he is surveying his surroundings he has this thoughtful but somewhat concerned look. It is a look that says, "Why are my nursery walls painted in 'Cornmuffin'?", "What is that furry squeaking toy being dangling in front of my face?", "Will Michigan always be this cold?" (answer, no, it gets much colder), or "I wonder if other moms create Access databases for recipe cards and grocery lists".

Thursday, November 4, 2010

recipe database files

Based on the number of people who didn't think I was crazy and wanted their very own copy of the Access file lauded in the previous post, I have made the file available for download here, along with a video tutorial of how to use it.

Okay, so there are 2 versions.

First, the Simple Grocery List Maker.
This is an Excel file that will create grocery lists for you. You enter in meals/ingredients, select which you want to make, and the file creates a grocery list ready to print and take to the store.

Download the file here:

Watch the video tutorial (recommended):

(Link to YouTube video)

Second, the Ultimate Meal Planner.
This is an Access database that will create printable recipe cards and a grocery list. If you're really serious about this, choose this option because once you're already entering in meals and ingredients, you may as well get a formatted recipe card out of it. In this database, you fill out recipe forms to create your cards (ready to print on 4x6 cards). Use the grocery form to select meals and generate a list ready to print and take to the store.

Download the file here

Watch the video tutorials (strongly, highly, very recommended):

(Link to YouTube video)

(Link to YouTube video)

Monday, November 1, 2010

what do you get when you cross a stay-at-home mom with a spreadsheet freak?


With the end result of an Access database that generates 4x6 recipe cards and my weekly grocery lists with just a few clicks.

The inefficiencies of my meal planning system have been gnawing at me for a while now. Searching for recipes stuffed into recipe boxes, saved on my account, scribbled on a napkin at the bottom of my purse. Or, spending 20 minutes writing my grocery list and getting home to discover I've forgotten the noodles for spaghetti. Or, eating the same foods week after week because it's too hard to look in various places mentioned above for recipes I haven't made in a while.

Over the last 2 weeks I have streamlined a solution. In my Access database, I can fill out a form to enter in a new recipe. The recipe automatically uploads into a report that prints onto a 4x6 card so I can add it to my "recipe ring". The recipe ring frees cards from the constraints of a box. Instead cards are clipped together with 2 rings that allows for faster flip-through. Plus the card won't ever leave the box and mysteriously disappear - the whole bunch stays together on the ring.

That's pretty handy. But the best part is that all of those recipes feed into a grocery list creator. Okay, it's really just a pivot table. The coolest pivot table ever.* It gives me a drop-down list of my recipes. I select which meals I want to make that week and it gives me a list of ingredients I need to buy. And quantities - summed across recipes. And it sorts it by store section (produce, bakery, meat, etc). One Ctrl+P later and I've got a complete, sorted grocery list to take with me to the store.

The only flaw in the system (which I've encountered twice now) is when I leave the grocery list sitting on the kitchen table. Operator error.

I know this all sounds a little crazy. But meal planning has always been a thing with me. Have I ever written about the time I was gearing up for a very busy school semester, so I planned out 16 weeks of dinners? I printed out 16 pages of grocery lists, one for each week, that had the week's dinners and necessary ingredients. I set the stack on my nightstand and didn't think about what to make for dinner for the next 4 months. Talk about efficient.

At this point, you may be feeling one of two ways. 1) Wow! Maybe Erin will send me a copy of her Access database so I can use it too (I'd be happy to). 2) Wow! This is the scariest Halloween post I've ever read.

*Credit for the pivot table goes to my friend Melissa, who first came up with this concept using the pivot tables in Excel.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

the very hungry caterpillar

We've got about 60 more photos, if you want to see them.

Friday, October 29, 2010

friday photos

this week takes us to the picture show!

A few weeks ago when we were enamored with making him smile...

A few days ago when we captured a few rare laughs...keep 'em coming kid.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

friday photos

Bring it on, Fall.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

the results are in! part II

Here's Part II of the household cleaning survey results: open-ended responses to the prompt, what is the most unusual household chore you do regularly?

(Review Part I here)

For starters, no qualitative report these days is complete without a Wordle!

Rather than doing a detailed analysis of responses, I thought I'd just post them all here along with some commentary.

"I keep a sponge with a scrubby-green side in the tub and give it a quick scrub every time I take a bath. I clean out my bathroom sink and clean my bathroom mirror very regularly."

"Washing the outside of my front door."

"I'm very lazy about housecleaning but try to dust my blinds (all of them) with a Swiffer duster every Saturday. I'm okay with enough dust on the end tables for a good game of tic-tac-toe, so why does the dust on blinds bother me?"

Probably because it is difficult to play tic-tac-toe on blinds.

"Organize the gladware box lids. About every 3 months, they degenerate into a pile of things that are likely to fall over and bury me. So I take them all out, try to make sure I have matching containers and lids, and then sort all of the lids by size and type."

There is a simpler solution, which is to just keep the tupperware on a lower shelf. This way they cannot fall on top of you no matter how disorganized they get.

"Vacuum my kitchen."

"I don't think it's unusual, but other people have commented on it - I regularly wash the walls (not the entire wall - like a spot clean). I also clean the tops of the washer and dryer after each use (you can use the used dryer sheet. It works really well to get all the gunk off)."

"We clean the landing to our staircase (where you enter our apartment) often. That is one thing that makes me feel okay when people come over."

"We really should think more about cleaning... we just make sure our main room is livable. The guest bedroom and our bedroom are usually a little scary."

"I don't consider any of the chores I do 'unusual.' Although, I must say that reading your post about your sheets almost made me throw up. I wash my sheets once a week now because my husband can't fathom washing them more...but before I was married, I washed them twice a week usually.

I want to make the person in this comment and the comment above switch places for a day and see what would happen. Compare profiles.

Making the bed before sleeping in it
Gagging Reflex to My Post Respondent: Yes, compulsively
Scary Bedroom Respondent: No, you people are crazy

Washing the outside of your kitchen cupboards
Gagging Reflex to My Post Respondent: Monthly
Scary Bedroom Respondent: I'm supposed to clean that?

When the trash gets full
Gagging Reflex to My Post Respondent: Take it out to the dump right away to avoid having an overstuffed/smelly bag
Scary Bedroom Respondent: Tell my husband

"I clean the spices on the spice rack when I notice."

"I don't think it's unusual for people with kids, but I am often found wiping slobby fingerprints off door jams and walls down low where the kids drag their hands."

"I get made fun of for washing the outside of my cupboards (kitchen and bathroom) for as often as I do (every few days). But they're white and they have a lip so dust accumulates really quickly!"

"Before I answer this, I need to clarify an answer above, I clean parts of my bathroom weekly but don't usually clean the whole thing at once... too overwhelming. Unusual: We vacuum the back porch."

It's okay, my definition of cleaning the bathroom involves the sink and the toilet. The shower and floor are totally separate animals.

"uhh... I hate cleaning so I'm not sure I do any unusual cleaning."

"Clean the little groove in the seal of the fridge with a q-tip. Vacuum the sliding trays on my windows. Dust the leaves of my big plants! None of the things, seem unusual. I had to think of what might seem wacky to someone else. Remember...I was raised with Connie [family reference]!!!!!"

Growing up with Connie would skew your perception of normal. This is the aunt who got her 2 younger sisters to dress in garbage bags and high heels and sing old folk songs...when they were all over 45 years old...

"I vacuum the ceiling in my basement (but only because I run on the treadmill down there and I'm scared to death of a dust bunny getting in my hair.) Clean the TV from sticky finger prints. I reorganize pantry quarterly."

"I am very picky about my kitchen pantry. I am constantly reorganizing it....I like the cans perfectly in lines and with the labels facing forward in matching fashion."

Hm. My pantry shelves are full of cans of corn intermixed with board games.

"Put a tablecloth on the dining room table and set the table with nice dishes before going to bed. I wash out the inside of the kitchen sinks almost every day. :)"

Do you leave a place for Elijah?

"Disinfecting the cupboard fronts, handles and top of the trash can - I haye seeing sticky fingerprints. I dust my artificial flowers...this may not seem unusual and definitely needs to be done, but considering all the other chores I do neglect, it's strange that I would do this one."

"I'll organize my office way more than I ever clean the bathroom. Paper clutter is my crutch."

You should talk to my husband. Maybe you are my husband... No, because he doesn't get around to the organizing part.

"My favorite thing to clean is the car. Every week I wash it inside and out and vacuum."

"I also am big on trash cans! I squirt some of my special cleaning solution in the can every time I take out the trash (solution = vinegar, water, and some essential oils. HIGH TECH.). I would say the most unusual household chore I do regularly is scrubbing the faucet in the bathroom sink, which I do while brushing my teeth (so usually twice a day). One might say that were I neater with the tooth-brushing this would not be a necessary chore. Oh well."

No, I think spraying your trash can with a special cleaning solution is your most unusual household chore. Laudable (I can't stand the nasty dirty kitchen trash can smell), but unusual.

"I like to unplug all the cables behind the computer and tv once or twice a year to untangle them and sort them into well behaved rows."

Do you use cable ties? I love cable ties!

"I love to sweep my garage, probably cause we're out in the front yard all the time. The tricky thing about this survey is that kids can make a huge impact on what you do and how often. For instance, light switches have to be cleaned regularly with a toddler and a preschooler. Whereas a newborn doesn't really get things like that dirty."

True. My newborn has christened everything in our house with spit up. But I find it works its way into the carpet without leaving much of a trace.

"Windex the front of the microwave. Weird, I know."

"I clean the knobs on all of my doors at least once a week. Dirty door knobs and door jambs ick me out."

"Vacuum out the windows (cobwebs form in the basement windows a lot- I guess that is what you get for trying to make living space out of an unfinished basement.) I do this monthly."

We lived in a barely finished basement for the first year of our marriage. Cobwebs were the least of our worries. There was the front door that was so low you had to duck to come inside, the way the basement trapped moisture so all of our book pages curled and our decks of cards stuck together, the mouse that ate the brownies that were sitting on our kitchen counter but I didn't realize a mouse had eaten the brownies until I had eaten some myself, the black mold we found behind our bookcase when we moved out... It did have some benefits though, like the fact that the bathroom was cozy enough you could actually sit on the toilet and take a shower at the same time!

Friday, October 15, 2010

friday photos

theme: large head

Oh man, they're making me do it again.

You're a strong baby. You're a strong baby.

We have lift off.

Almost there...

Ta Da!

(I'm so cute.)

Monday, October 11, 2010

the results are in!

A few weeks ago, inspired by childhood reminiscing of sheet-cleaning traditions, I sent out a survey about household cleaning habits. 45 responses* and a few Excel charts later, here are the quantitative results. The survey also included an open-ended question about the strangest household chore you do - results from that coming in the next installment.

Thanks to everyone who participated. Enjoy comparing your answers with the aggregate.

First, what chores were important to you to feel at ease in your home.

Dishes and general de-cluttering were obvious front-runners. And let's be honest, no one cares about dust until guests are coming over.

Second, who definitely has to make the bed before sleeping in it, and who could care less.

(Note: "Yeah.." in the graph above corresponds to the answer choice "Yes I have to make the bed before sleeping in it, but I'm trying to get over it")

Third, what course of action you take when you notice the trash getting full.

I am disappointed that more people don't just get out another bag. That's what I do. My trash is in the same room as my washer/dryer. I can get 3 trash bags going, plus a trash can full of recycling as well as stacks of boxes filled with smaller boxes spilling off the washer/dryer tops. All ready to be taken out to the garage. (Yes, I deliberately used the passive voice in that last sentence. Trash is not on my chore chart.)

Fourth, a grab bag of detailed household cleaning tasks.

Really, I think the hot water heater is feeling like a neglected appliance compared to the washer. I hazard that most of us have lived in places without a washing machine but not without hot water. Let's show a little more respect.

Also, for the person who has folded his/her dirty laundry - please comment on whether you felt pride or shame when admitting to that in the survey.

Fifth, how often do you do a variety of household chores. For this visualization, I looked at the median response as well as responses in the 10th, 25th, 75th and 90th percentiles and ordered the chores along this frequency line accordingly. Semi-scientific, and if all the statisticians will close their eyes here, I'll claim that semi-scientific is close enough in most situations - particularly in the social sciences.

Okay, so I'll wash my sheets more often than each December 24th. But you can't make me clean my silverware tray annually. Really, more often than cleaning windows and oven?

*86% of respondents were female