Could You Describe the Ruckus, Sir?

Welcome to Vicky Bell's blog.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The mess I make

First, a warning. This post lacks wisdom and is quite literally about the mess I make. I'm working on honesty here, and honestly, my house is a mess. The truth is I don't usually care.
Except that two things happened. One, someone came over (that never happens).  Two, I've been reading more blogs and find that- astonishingly- people frequently post pics of their homes.  From the inside.
And they look like pictures in a magazine.
Who lives like that?

Apparently lots of people.
So between having the inside of my home accidentally observed, and a nagging case of blog pic envy,  I was moved to clean. I got as far as my bedroom closet. Here it is after I'd been working on it for 3 hours.

I thought I'd clean the other rooms too, but I only got as far as picture taking.  I'm posting the pics here in hopes that I'll be shamed into actual cleaning, though I suspect my lack of housekeeping skills may win out .
The chalkboard-painted area in my kitchen says "Happy Birthday Mommy". My birthday was in June. The upper cabinets are missing the hardware because I took it off to prime and paint... 9 years ago. The colorful tile backsplash is not tile, it's paint.  A "temporary" fix for the ugly white paperboard that was there when we bought the house.

Below is the dining room. The piano is no longer in use. I was planning on having a "piano-on-the-lawn-sledgehammer-demolition-day" until someone warned me that the strings could snap and take out an eye. Too bad; I think it would have been a fun time.

Below is the living room, which we don't actually use because, well, because it's a mess. We hang out downstairs in the family room, which is a bigger, more comfortable mess, but not pictured here.

I should admit that I haven't actually cleaned anything besides daily dishes since the last of the kids left in August. I think in spite of the abundance of kid clutter the house was actually neater when they were all here, and smaller. These days I find I'm too busy running, hiking, reading, thinking, sewing, painting or gluing something to worry about cleaning the house. And since there's no one here but Jim and me to see it...

And anyway February is such a good month for cleaning, why waste a nice October?

P.S. If you are one of the house-beautiful people, and appalled, I apologize for the distress my pics must have caused.  On the other hand, if you are one of the house-messy people, please let me know.  I fear I am alone.


  1. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for posting your pictures!!!! My house constantly is in a state of disaray with my two boys. I have decided that living life is much more important than a completely clean house! One day I actually spent time cleaning my basement only to find my kitchen counter neglected. I took a picture and sent it to my friends to show them my lovely kitchen - I was just being honest with them :)

  2. Hi Vicky. You are adorable. My name is Randi. I found your website from a friend on Facebook, when your letter to your daughter went viral. Nice job! ...wonderful post. When you write (or speak) from the heart, people know it, and we all felt your words. Now, as your posts pop up in my "favorites box" I read your words. Today, I'm cracking up. You are just so real. Honest and truthful. I'm a big mess too. But my dogs are happy, my son is grown, my husband still loves me, and all is well in messyland. Some thing are just more important than doing laundry. ...just be sure you don't get like those people on the show "Hoarders". That's just not healthy. I found a website recently that I love. I'm not associated with it at all. I am not writing this comment as an advertisement, just as a "friend" trying to help. If you get a minute, go to She's adorable too. She'll help you one day at a time. Check her out. (I don't know her, I just learned from her and wanted to share.) That's it. Hope it helps. Have a great day Vicky.

  3. I would be right at home in your house and you would be right at home in mine!!

  4. With four kids (16-8), I strive for some tidiness and cleanliness but usually fail -- sort of. Would not like to live pristine, but would like to be able to find things and keep the bits of on-going projects together. One of the inspiring places to visit -- if you're into on-going house blogs is the web-site apartment therapy and click on where it says 'Cure' for tips on sorting and storage. The website also has lots of other nooks and crannies, interesting links and inspiring ideas. It's a leetle too clean and cute for me, so I take it with a pinch of salt and go along for the ride. But don't stress yourself about the state of your home: as the old saying goes, when you're knocking on heaven's door, you're hardly going to say to myself 'Gee, I wish I'd spent more time tidying!'

    BTW, I am one of the people who found your blog after the Letter to your Daughter went viral... I'm so glad I did.

    Best to you and yours.

  5. I guess, being a middle child as I was growing up, I'm somewhere in the middle of this too. Well, I'm not stuck in the middle. I can find my way out...but my cleaning methods are somewhere in the middle. I have a 6 year old, and her stuff has slowly but surely taken over every room, in a neat manner, I suppose. And the tall ladder sits in the entry way waiting for us to paint 3 walls....for the past 2 or 3 months now..I've lost track. My kitchen has to be clean, always, or at least cleaned up. But the BIG OLE scrubbing usually only takes place once every 4-6 months, when I can start seeing the smudges on everything and begin to realize that's not something I would want to share with an unexpected guest. And like you, we rarely have them, although I do pretend sometimes that someone is coming over, just for the sake of cleaning.

    BTW, I would love it if you could open up to have comments from "other" I have an old Google account, from Blogspot, but we haven't used it in years, we cleaned it up, and moved to another blog. :-).

  6. Oh...and if you live in Northern California...I would be glad to take that piano off your hands. Ive been dying to get one for my daughter. I have piano envy for sure.

  7. I'm so happy it's not just me!!! I have 3 kids- 7, 8 & 16. Currently, I'm working full-time & my hubby is home. No, we didn't plan it that way but I'm thinking it's a pretty good deal, though I do wish I was the one home. Anyway, our house is ALWAYS cluttered and messy. I used to really care; then, as my daughter got sick, then sicker, I decided that it wasn't really priority. I see all of these people stressed out and angry, yelling at their kids. I bet their homes are spotless. Why? Because they're way too damn high strung! Everyone in my household is so much happier that we let the little things slide. We're busy, we're helping people, we're doing what we're supposed to be. That's all that matters. :)

  8. Me again...I have to chime in after reading what Deetipton wrote... We live in a middle income neighborhood, but only a mile or two away it starts becoming really GOOD neighborhoods. Neighborhoods where doctors are married to pharmacists, and lawyers are married to pilots.
    Our daughter went to daycare and then to preschool with kids from this calibre. I still haven't invited any of her friends over from that time, because we have so much less. But then my 26 year old son was visiting and he said, "Yeah, but she (my 6 year old) has parents who love her, and do things with her all the time. She IS the apple of your eyes, and everyone knows that. Do you really think all those kids have that? There are probably some fairly sad kids in some of those house. And worse, their parents go about their business without even tuning in to the fact that they are lonely and sad".
    I doubt that's the case for some, but there's probably at least one or two children in that housing area who could care less about their immaculate houses. And wished their parents cared more about them.

  9. All I was thinking while looking at your pics was "Ooh! Look at all those lovely books! I'd like to have a good browse..."

  10. Ha I love these comments! Thank you! I can't always answer to each one, but I do read them all and appreciate them very much.
    Here are some responses:
    The blog is now open to comments from everywhere.
    The piano is broken and unfixable, and in NJ.
    I am aware of the danger of sliding into hoardism.. therefore am determined to move into successively smaller homes as I get older- ultimately, I'd like to live in a comfy car and travel 24/7. My husband doesn't much like that idea though.
    I am going to check out the sites you've suggested.
    The house is really just expensive storage for my books..

  11. I just checked out thanks for the tip- and it was fun reading and looking around. I have to say, though, that anything with daily checklists and 31 beginner steps is so not going to work for me...
    I swear it's a good day when I remember to brush my hair before I leave the house.
    I'm enjoying reading about cleaning though. Reminds me of my mom, who hated cooking, did as little of it as possible, but loved collecting cookbooks. Hmmm.

  12. I am not a clean freak but I do need some order or I don't function well. I tend to go in spurts though and will take a day and catch up if I feel like things are piling up. My hubs is a neat freak so my house is far neater than it would be if I were single. I'm nearby if you need a hand. Seriously. I have far too much time on my hands and I do love to look thru piles of books. Er I mean organize them : )

  13. As Anne said, you'd also be at home at my house! I recently made a valiant effort and cleaned up my dining room because I was having guests for dinner. I got rid of all of the piles of stuff that were piled on the table and on the loveseat that's in the corner of the room. And guess what? Less than a month later, it's all back! And don't even ask about my bedroom! You are definitely not alone. I don't konw how people manage to keep their houses so clean and neat as some do. It is impossible for me.

  14. You are definitely not alone Vicki! I wish I were a neat freak, but truthfully the only time I clean well is when company is coming, and sometimes I just hide the mess. My mom used to clean her 1st floor every wednesday, and the 2nd floor every thursday. Granted, she didn't work, but still, I just don't have that kind discipline.
    Hope you are doing well, regardless of the mess.

  15. Hey Vicky~I have to confess, I have never been able to get my whole house clean all at the same time. If the kitchen floor is clean it means that the dust is an inch thick in the bedrooms, and piles of clutter are pushed into corners. Books and magazines (just like yours!) always balanced precipitously on chairs, tables, counters. Unfinished projects, and lists of 'things that need to get done' litter desks and cabinets.
    My plan of shedding all 'excess' and clean my whole house is an ongoing lesson in futility.
    In my spare time I look around and decide it is a perfect time to read, take a walk or a nap!

  16. I have a confession to make too. I try to aim well for a hamper with dirty socks, try to keep my kitchen clean because I cook a lot and need room on countertops - doesn't mean they are spotless though;). I don't have piles of books and magazines all over the house - most subscription magazines are on the ipad, some daily news, too; books we used to have on kindle but we moved them to ipad, - it was not my idea- I'd rather have them on paper, but we do what we can to save the planet. So the house gets gradually cleaner, I mean less messy but you should see my computer, especially the desktop - now that needs someone with mad cleaning skills.:)

  17. I just found your blog, and I love it. This post, in particular, had a lighthearted charm that I absolutely adored!

  18. Vicki, thank you for posting those pictures! Like Bobbie, our house is a traveling mess. Once I get the kitchen immaculate (rarely), the living room looks like an explosion went off in there!

    I used to stress myself, my husband and my two boys by forcing everyone to clean for half a day sometimes on a Saturday, to get it (mostly) all done at once. But it just wasn't worth the unhappiness it caused all around.

    My wonderful mother-in-law came to visit a few weeks ago. I told her ahead of time that the house was a wreck but to come on anyway, because we wanted to see her. She is a gem because she always says, "I don't know how you keep up with everything that you do, don't worry about the house!"